Going to a baby shower when you have a two year old and an eight month old is kinda like going to a wedding after you’ve been married a few years.
“Congratulations!” you say in your best and most sincere tone, while thinking in your head “Good luck, hold on tight, you are in for a ride!”
Of course the congrats are sincere. Being married is awesome. Children are a blessing. They are both gifts from God. But these gifts are from IKEA. They come in boxes needing to be assembled and the only directions you are given are a few little black and white drawings. Good luck.
The baby shower came at the end of one of the longest weeks of my life and thus I found myself biting my tongue about my child’s recent illness and the never-ending demands of motherhood.
The shower was of course, wonderful. Full of women, conversation, some sort of delicious raspberry champagne, cake, and fondu. It was great to see my friend and to celebrate this happy and exciting time in her and her husband’s life. Becoming a parent is like no other change in life. Bigger than going to college, than moving out on your own, and even getting married.
Something in the universe alters when you become a parent. This alteration, I’ve recently realized, is that you are no longer the center of your world. (Okay, as Christian, “you” should have never been the center anyway, but you know what I mean.) All of the sudden, everything you thought about life and how it should operate–your dreams, your fears, your loves–all become different because this helpless little life has just been given to you. And they are yours! Yours to raise, to feed, to clothe, to change, to discipline and to screw up!
One day, a few weeks after I had Landon my mother came to help me. I sat on the couch and looked at my mom cradling Landon in her arms as Jacob played on the floor. I sat there in daze, probably just awoken from a nap, and took in the scene before me. These are my kids, I thought. That baby she’s holding…he’s mine. And that toddler on the floor? Also mine. And then I thought: who let me have these two kids? Are they sure I can handle this?
Most days I can handle it, but being a mom is hands down the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. And that’s the truth.
Then came the stomach flu. This whole flu thing has literally catapulted me into a new phase of motherhood. The phase of “Oh my Gosh my child just threw up on the carpet, what do I do?” The worrying, the lysol, the laundry, the carpet and the sleepless nights praying to God that everyone would sleep through the night and no one (myself included) would wake up crying or making trips to the toilet.
It’s particularly at times like these that I think of my mother and end up calling her every day to tell her all the details she doesn’t want to hear and ask for advice that I already know. I just want to hear her voice to be reassured that I still have a mother. Someone who loves me and sometimes still takes care of me.
I remember as a kid I always wondered how she didn’t get sick as often as we did. Now, I am the mother bringing in the juice, cleaning the mess, and drinking ginger ale hoping and praying that I’m not next. Because who would take care of the kids? There are no sick days for moms, I’ve discovered.
So it’s no wonder I felt the way I did at my friend’s shower. Are you ready for this Becca? Ready for the worrying, the sleepless nights, the responsibility, the fears, the questions? And the sicknesses that will infest your household every year until they go to college?
But the other night, as I lay there aching and not being able to sleep I began to pray. I prayed for strength, for rest, and for no one else to get sick. And for some reason, Psalm 23 came to mind:
The LORD is my Shepherd
I shall not want
He makes me lie down in green pastures
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
And even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil
For You are with me.
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies
You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. *
It was exactly what I needed to hear. Funny how the LORD knows these things. I needed to hear that He is my shepherd and I am just a sheep. I’m not expected to have all the answers or be the strong one. He is. And He gives me strength—and rest and “restores my soul.” Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (aka the stomach flu) He is with me. And He comforts me. Thank you LORD!
The omnipotence, the presence, of God is something truly amazing. His love is wonderful, but unfathomable. His presence, however, is not. I can understand that. I don’t know how He is present everywhere all the time, but I know what it means to be near someone, to be present. I don’t know what it is like to love as God loves me. Remembering God’s presence gave me peace. A peace that surpasses understanding. It was an awesome thing.
I know there will be many more colds, flus, and sicknesses over the next 18 plus years, but I will try to remember the LORD is with us through it all, comforting, protecting, and looking for a green pasture where we can lie down.
That’s a nice thought.
*I wrote it from memory as I said it in my head that night, so it’s not an exact quote from the Bible.