This week has been a roller coaster. Imagine me moping because friends and family finally pushed me to choose a baby bedding set; yelling at my husband because he “can’t do anything right”; panicking because we have less than two months to paint the room; sobbing because I can’t get Target’s baby registry website to work; and generally freaking out because “I don’t know how I’m going to handle this all!”
Yeah. It’s finally sunk in. I’m gonna be a mom. And suddenly, all my shortcomings are hitting me, smack dab, in the face. The necessity of dealing with the baby room, especially, has slammed me with bad memories from my childhood, where I never knew how to decorate my bedroom and was always dissatisfied with my pathetic attempts. My mom tried her best to make our shabby houses nice, with inexpensive touch-ups like a coat of paint and tablecloths, but decorating wasn’t her strong point, either. To this day, she and I both freeze at the prospect of even hanging pictures.
I knew this would happen. I knew having a baby would call on me to face my weaknesses: decorating a room, learning to be a better homemaker, learning to depend on others, and setting aside my own goals in favor of the family. In short, Baby Sam is calling on me to be less selfish.
But everyone knows that. It’s obvious that parents have to be less selfish. It’s also common knowledge that parenting calls forth people’s weaknesses. I knew this all along, and that’s why I put off children for my first eight years of marriage. I knew kids would test me, and until now, I wasn’t ready for that test. Instead, I subjected myself to lots of other tests, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, where all the questions were safely embedded in a two-dimensional world. There wasn’t much to mess up—at least, it would be hard to mess up someone else’s life. Now, the game has changed. Now, my decisions can make or break someone’s life.
Ironically, I know I’ve done some messing with my husband’s life by keeping too busy and being self- and career-absorbed over the years. It wasn’t really possible for me to live a self-contained life: our decisions always impact others. I just wasn’t ready for the mega impact of a parent-to-child relationship.
Good news, though. God is stepping in, like he always does. The verse I keep hearing this week is 2 Cor. 12:9-10. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Thank God for that!
One practical demonstration of God’s sufficiency (“my God shall supply all your needs,” Paul writes) has been a new friend, who enthusiastically agreed to help me with the baby room. She came over on Tuesday and helped me order a bedding set. She talked me through using the breast pump my other friend gave me. She went shopping with me to choose paint and other baby supplies. And she’s coming again today to help make some decorations for the baby room. Maybe these things seem trite to you homemaker women out there, but to me, they have been a godsend.
I don’t think my new friend realizes why this stuff is so hard for me—it’s fun for her. But that’s because she’s a hands-on woman; I’m a hands-off type (read: I like to work with words, ideas—basically stuff I can’t break). Amidst my wallowing that “I suck” this week, God has turned my sorrow (and raging hormones) into joy.
The beginning of the week was hard, but the end is getting better. So I know that homemaking is not one of my strong points. So what? God’s power is made perfect through my weakness, and through friends and loved ones he sends to make up for what I lack. I feel so blessed this week to be surrounded by friends and family who can help me. Generally I don’t like to ask for help, but this lack of dependency is just another weakness God is helping me through. It’s a weakness I intend to ditch, because I know if I hope to get through parenthood, I’ll need some help. It sounds corny, but that old adage is really true: the first step to change is admitting we need help.
Thank you so much, Lord, for sending help just when I needed it.