I remember my unruly emotional heart weeping all the ugly tears at church as we celebrated my first Mother’s Day. I couldn’t believe it. She was finally here. After months of growing her and feeling her twirl and twist and kick my insides from every which way, she was swaddled and still in my arms. I couldn’t stop staring at her dark brown hair taking the form of a mohawk as the choir sang. Her lips would pucker and eyelids twitch in deep slumber. She was magical. She was mine and I was her mother.
I remember the praise of parental veterans, welcoming my husband and I into the big leagues as we walked from the back gravel parking lot towards the main sanctuary. I was the rookie with so much to learn, feeling exhausted and overloaded with information and pride and emotions for this newfound position.
I watched as other moms passed by with their trophies of multiple diaper bags and badges of “We Made It Through The Teen Years” pinned to their pastel sweaters. I had no idea how to parent outside of a nursing cover and swaddle blanket. Every day was new and nerve-inducing.
As we walked back to our car after service, a friend of ours asked what Eric had planned for my first Mother’s Day. I felt giddy. He had this in the bag. There were gifts and cards and adornments galore, just waiting for me. He had a plan. I was sure of it.
Eric looked at me, then back to our friend, and with shrugging shoulders he said, “I’m not really sure. Whatever she wants, I guess”. Those words shook me, whatever she wants. Didn’t he know I had no idea what I wanted and was leaving it all up to him? As we walked along, me holding our three week old daughter, all I could manage was a forced smile. Didn’t he love me and appreciate the full force of womanhood I just went through to bare this child?
Wasn’t he supposed to love me like God loves the church? Wasn’t he placed on his earth to serve my every whim?
Our oldest daughter just turned six last week and I laugh remembering who I was in those primal days of motherhood. We now have three daughters, ages 6, 4 and 2. The raw expectations for myself and of Eric were outrageous! I remember driving home from church that first Mother’s Day, convinced he didn’t love me. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to now plan an unforgettable Mother’s Day.
What did I want to do? Surely there were celebratory brunches and parades in town to attend. There were special desserts to order and movies to watch at the local theatre. What did I want to do? Friends, full disclosure- all I wanted to do was sleep. And cry without justifying the reasons. And shower for more than 2 minutes. I wanted to eat a large flank steak without the repercussions of our daughter’s sensitive adversity to red meat and breast milk. I wanted to lay in bed for a minimum of 20 hours, binging on medium rare steak smothered in garlic butter, Gilmore Girls and coffee ice cream without any interruptions.
I only have six Mother’s Days under my high-waisted mom belt, and still, to want feels decadent. It feels lush to ask for rest. Or food. Or to use the bathroom sans children. It feels selfish to admit any want or need that takes me away from the focus of my family. And then there’s Jesus. Who, in the midst of relationships and service and healing, went away to rest. He sought prayer and comfort from the source of all rest. He made it excusable and necessary for us all.
There is no award for sleepless nights or terms of breastfeeding. There is no badge of the bottle, or praise for the pace that will conquer the value rate of rest. In Matthew 11, after he introduces John the Baptist, Jesus declares that rest is found in him through the Father. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (verse 29).
Motherhood is a constant learning curve. And it’s not always gentle. Rest is an active pursuit. Some days rest looks like a short walk with our labrador. Some days it’s laying in bed writing or reading while the girls craft and watch their fourth episode of Sofia the First. Other days, rest looks like running the playground circuit with my daughters to tighten our bond and bellies from laughing. But every ounce of rest is restored by Jesus. He allows it. He encourages it. He is rest for you, my fellow weary mom.
4 IDEAS FOR THE DADS OUT THERE TO LOVE ON YOUR BABY MAMA:
- Surprise her with time to herself. Get a bath going for her and take the kids outside or offer to put them to bed so she can sit in silence.
- Snag something off of her Amazon or Pinterest list.
- Schedule a family photo session.
- Prep coffee the night before and thank her all the live-long day!
MAMAS, HERE ARE FOUR PODCASTS FOR YOU TO ENJOY WHILE YOU REST:
- Risen Motherhood with Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler
- The Busy Mom with Heidi St. John
- Kindled with Haley Williams
- The Shauna Niequist Podcast with (dun dun dun) Shauna Niequist
Happy Mother’s Day! xo