Surviving Parenthood

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Until his first smiles, I’m counting on funny expressions like this one to keep me endeared to little Sam.

So this is what it comes down to: if I want to write a blog post, I have to do it while lying on my side feeding my son, awkwardly typing with a crick in my neck. This makes me think of a humor book on parenting I read (Sippy Cups Are not for Chardonnay), in which the author joked that the new definition of “sexy” for mothers is just getting to wash their hair.

I won’t lie: after just three weeks, both my hubby and I are having doubts about parenthood. What did we get ourselves into? we’ve asked. And, Does our baby come with a return policy? I feel terrible even typing those things, but from all the parenting books I’ve read (blame it on graduate school), these seem to be normal enough questions. Yet I’ve rarely heard them spoken by friends and acquaintances who have kids. Have they just forgotten what the early days were like? If so, here’s a reminder.

My newborn son takes round-the-clock work, but offers not one smile in return. More like it, he cries, and he screams—morning, noon, and night. Although just a week or so ago all his crying made me cry, too, now I roll my eyes, pick him up again, talk to him in silly voices (perhaps desperate pleas), or, if all else fails, I lay him down to scream for ten to fifteen minutes. I can’t take more than fifteen minutes.

When I do get him down for a nap, it’s all I can do to grab a shower or a bite to eat, or, if I’m really lucky, get some laundry or dishes done. Yesterday I was able to sweep the mud room where our dogs constantly track in, well, mud, and that was a major accomplishment. Some days I also manage to get dinner made before hubby comes home, and that is always cause for profuse thanksgiving.

In the beginning (just a couple weeks ago), I remember laying Sam down for a nap and praying, Lord, can you please let him sleep for one hour? Now, with the wet blanket of reality smothering me, I have started praying, Lord, thank you for every minute—and I really mean every single minute—that Sam sleeps. Sometimes it’s fewer than ten minutes. Yesterday’s two-hour nap was a happy milestone. But no matter how long or short it is, it is always just long enough…for me to get at least one thing done. Maybe it’s just a shower, maybe it’s just washing my breast pump accessories so I can be ready to pump again after the next feeding. Stressed though I am, God sees to it that my needs are met. That’s life right now.

Right now, I’m only accomplishing the most basic necessities. For an overachiever like myself, this is near torture. But, sigh, it’s good for me. It’s good to remember how dependent I am on God for my most basic necessities: food, clothing, shelter. Little Sam has reminded me of this. Because he is taking his sweet time to regain his birth weight, I’ve been worried about my milk supply. I’ve been worried about him. When I’m tempted to resent him for “chaining” me to a feeding schedule, I am softened to remember that, with all these feedings, this little, helpless being is totally depending on me for his life. Suddenly, all these mundane feedings are hardly small or insignificant. Likewise, motherhood.

Lord, when I’m tempted to see my new “job” as merely frustrating, difficult, and insignificant, remind me what a privilege it is. Help me see my job as a miracle—I’ve gotten to play a small part in creating a life, and now I get a small part in sustaining it. I get to understand what your job is like just a little more. I get to experience your love just a little deeper.

So this is what it comes down to (after forty minutes of feeding): a sweet, helpless baby sleeping silently on my chest, depending totally on me for his sustenance, his life. How can I stay angry at a sleeping baby? It’s impossible. This must be one of the survival mechanisms God built in to all newborn babies—for them and for their parents.

 

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4 thoughts on “Surviving Parenthood

  1. Kate February 13, 2014 / 4:53 pm

    Thanks for such a real, sincere, honest look at motherhood. I hear it gets better and easier, and I’m sure you guys are doing a wonderful job. There are so many good days to look forward to, when he becomes a real little person with a real little personality. So many spiritual lessons…love reading about them! Keep them coming (as little Sam allows…:)

  2. Vinodhini February 21, 2014 / 4:31 am

    Awww… This post was like revisiting my life a few years back!! It’s really awful, but in my experience God taught me to view the our baby like “us” and put ourselves in the place of God… Its like we are just like babies we are helpless, but always crying.. We cry not knowing our situations, God’s big plan and we keep grumbling and crying all the time about so many many things in our lives… I personally feel motherhood, is Gods way of showing us how horrible we are! Apologies for having said too much at this time, when your already struggling…

    Here’s one post of mine about one of my experience with my daughter but this was when she was two years though – http://vinoreflections.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/parent-and-a-child/

    Sending you warm hugs dear new mom 🙂

    • lindseygendke February 26, 2014 / 2:24 pm

      I read your post…yikes! I’m sure all moms and dads can tell stories like this; it’s part of the package, isn’t it? Yet so hard! I agree that God uses parenthood to teach us so much about ourselves and about him. We definitely are “babies” in many senses, and God is our loving parent. Thanks for commiserating with me. This is one tough job, for sure, but I’m so glad to have so much support. Thanks for the hugs! Back at you!

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