Becoming A Mommy
You know how some people are just born with the gift of nurturing and loving little kids?
I remember that trait in my first, real, best friend, Amy. Even at five or six years old, she seemed to gravitate towards the babies in the church nursery every Sunday.
But me? I didn’t like the nursery. It always smelled weird. Like a musty combination of dirty diapers, saltine crackers and juice. And the babies and toddlers? They were okay. But most of them smelled too. And they were usually sticky, smelly, or crying. No thank you.
I preferred to be in the sanctuary, listening to the pastor preach while I could draw or write, dreaming about my future fabulous life.
Don’t get me wrong. I dreamed of having a family. I knew I wanted four kids. I grew up in a family with four kids. We had our great moments but mostly, I wanted a do-over. My older sisters were on-again-off-again in my life. I longed for their affection and never felt like enough. So in turn, I took control of what I could. I bossed my younger brother around incessantly, telling him what to do until he would finally refuse to be my slave. And his independence didn’t go over very well. My dependence on my sisters’ affections weren’t healthy. I escaped into my dream world. So, we were a little messed up- us four siblings.
In my dreaming, I told myself someday my four kids would love me and they would definitely love each other. The end.
Oh, and they would for sure come home for the holidays.
The funny thing is, and I’m sure I’ve shared this before, I never actually dreamed of RAISING those four children. Neither did I imagine, what having a little kid would be like.
Instead, I just knew what I didn’t want.
For one, I would NEVER allow my kids to go out in public looking like hot messes.
For two, my gorgeous house would NEVER be taken over by toys or kiddie clutter.
And three, I would NEVER EVER be buying the sorry excuse for a vehicle that is a mini van.
And finally, my children would one day DEFINITELY arise up and call me blessed.
Proverbs 31. Of course they would. God bless them.
I’m laughing because that’s really what I played in my head.
Nearly fifteen years ago, I married a man who loves children and is excellent with them.
Because after being married for a couple years to my real man, of course I wanted us to start our dream family.
And that’s when the dream took a significant detour.
Two heartbreaking miscarriages, one year of infertility, and a round of invasive fertility tests, and we finally had a pregnancy that made it into the second trimester.
Talk about stuff getting real.
I felt scared, emotional and helpless. I had no control. And all I could do, was pray.
And then the day came, the scheduled C-section.
We listened to Toby Mac’s “I Was Made To Love” on the way to the hospital. We had two names picked out. Our boy name was “Caleb Joseph.” Caleb means “Faithful” and Joseph means “God will increase.” It was also my Dad’s prayer that we would have a healthy baby in time for his 65th birthday just two days from then. And my Dad’s name is Joseph.
I was so scared, but I was also anxious to see our baby. It was nothing like in the movies. My mouth was parched. My heart was pounding. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My swollen body was exposed to a room full of medical experts. My tummy was being excavated by jovial doctors talking about the weather. But I’ll never forget Brian joyfully announcing his son’s arrival as they pulled all 9lbs of our healthy baby boy out of my body.
I remember stroking Caleb’s head with a soft puppy blanket, thinking I never felt this kind of love before.
But then, in what only felt like a few days later, I was all alone with my son. Just him and me.
I was terrified.
Babies scared me. What if I dropped him? What if he choked on something? What if I fell asleep while he needed me? What if?
In those early days, I was especially exhausted, hormonal, and insecure. I called my mom and my older sister so many times. On the weekends, we drove up to their homes so I could feel less alone. I think I fell in love with my mom and sister more during that time, too. They knew what I was going through. And they didn’t judge me.
I fell deeper in love with my husband. Watching him with our son was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my life.
It was a sweet time in my life.
But it was also hard. So hard.
But what made it easier was the love I felt for our baby.
I stopped being scared of him and learned how to hold him. I learned how to feed him with confidence. I learned how to change a blown out poopy diaper and not throw up. Slowly, I learned how to be a mother.
Through trial and error, we learned it’s probably not prudent to take the baby to the urgent care doctor for a sunburn. We learned diapers look like Michelin tires when they’re soaking wet. There was that one time, three year-old Caleb escaped early in the morning and went for a solo walk around the neighborhood cul-de-sac collecting newspapers from people’s driveways. Thankfully, he came home and rang the doorbell so we could let him back in. We had never even known he’d been gone. There were some frantic phone calls to poison control. Questions like, “Can hand sanitizer consumption make a toddler drunk?” And admittedly, I sometimes forgot to put shoes on Caleb when we left the house. Speaking of the house- it became overran with toys. Toys and little clothes and accessories (no one tells you about all the accessories that come with parenting) were everywhere. We eventually bought (horror of horrors) the dreaded minivan.
We had more miscarriages and then we had more babies. None of whom are perfect or always get along like I dreamed they would. Four, beautiful, precious, individual children.
The jury’s still out on whether they will arise and call me blessed like the Proverbs 31 woman.
But today, as my baby boy turns ten, I have to say, I am blessed.
I am blessed to have had this reality- a reality of sticky fingers that have wrapped around my neck, mornings that have been interrupted with yelling and crazy, a messy van that seems to inadvertently litter whenever its doors are opened, a cluttered house with ABC magnets and crayon drawings, and chaos- it’s been hard. But so full. Each season in life is so temporary. And this one with little kids- it’s quickly starting to fade for us.
And Caleb, to you, on your tenth birthday, I hope you know how much you’re loved. How thankful we are to God that He gave us you for this season. We love your sensitivity, your quirky sense of humor, your hunger for knowledge, your kindness, your faithfulness, your heart for serving others and doing the right thing. We love that God has allowed us to be your parents.
And while I’m still hopeful you’ll come home for the holidays when you’re older, I’m so thankful that this season that I never dreamed of, is part of our story. You make me laugh. You make me smile. You are my sunshine. And I am so proud to have been your mommy. I will always remember these ten years as nothing less than a dream come true.