becoming a mom · finding my way

Before I Became a Mom: Then and Now

Before I became a mom, the thought of motherhood caused me anxiety, doubt, and overwhelm. I knew some general things about motherhood but I didn’t know some of the most important things. I could visualize changing diapers endlessly and dealing with cranky babies but I had no idea how vastly my children would enrich and color my world.

Back then I didn’t realize that preparing my heart for a baby was just as important as preparing my home.

Now I know that the best preparation for a baby isn’t the things I buy, the experience I have or how ready I feel. It’s more about how much I trust God to see me through whatever challenges lie ahead and how much confidence I place in Him to lead me and my family. Time with God and time spent reading Christian childbirth books that challenged and deepened my faith while provoking me to face my fears with faith were life-changing.

Back then I thought at least some preparation for labour and postpartum was important. I hoped a couple short classes would suffice.

Now I know better what kind of preparation is truly needed. In addition to preparing my heart, there’s something to be said for preparing mind and body for childbirth and postpartum realities. Learning about the natural process of birth was empowering. I also understand more fully how wonderful a free schedule and a freezer full of food are in the weeks following birth.

Before I became a mom, I was overwhelmed with the multitude of purchases to be made and the scope of options and so-called necessities.

Now I wish I could tell moms-to-be that they can go with the basics–a very few basics–and if they truly need the extras they can buy or borrow them later. Better to stock up on the necessities so you don’t have to go shopping for diapers right away then obsess over an expensive gadget you rarely use.

Before my daughter was born, I was excited to set up her nursery.

Now I know that what a new mom really needs–even more than a beautifully painted baby room and matching accessories–are opened, readily available packages of diapers and wipes, sleep, food, and a mom, sister or friend to help.

Back then I had no way of knowing how much I was capable of with God’s help.

Now I see more clearly that although I had very little experience with babies and found them more intimidating than interesting, God is always perfectly able to give me everything I need. He called me to be the mom to these babies. He has especially prepared and equipped me. Yes, many women have more experience and wisdom. I, however, have a unique ecosystem in which to raise my children–made up of my temperament, our home routines, my own and my husband’s preferences and my relationship with God.

Back then I understood that prayer was good and important and necessary.

Now I understand that better, although still imperfectly. Prayer for an unborn child, for older children, for myself, for my husband, for health care providers and others during pregnancy, birth, and on throughout our children’s lives is an amazing privilege we all can and should make use of.

I never used to understand the importance of community, particularly in regards to child rearing.

Now I know that a loving, close-knit community is a wonderful gift to both me and my baby. It’s a precious blessing to have sisters who come bringing all kinds of gifts of food and love and welcome so generously. In a sense, my baby is their baby too. These women are happy for us and want to get to know my baby. See, every baby brings a little heaven to earth. They teach preschoolers about new life, give children a chance to interact with someone tiny and new, allow girls a glimpse into motherhood, remind grandmas of their young mom days and show us all how precious each one is.

Before motherhood, I had no inkling how severe the temptations would sometimes be to compare myself with other moms, whether it’s comparing to the things they choose to do or use for their children, how they manage their homes or how they train their children.

Now I know what a giant comparison can be and how it can show up when I least expect it. To combat it, I’m learning to recognize and accept my limitations better. As Sally Clarkson says, I “find freedom in Christ to do and be myself within the ideals of His biblical design.” God hasn’t given us a check box system to follow–unmedicated birth, cloth diapers, read the right books, researched the best stroller, color-coordinated the nursery, good clothes always laundered for important social functions, never forgets diapers at home or lets the baby fall off the bed. God uses my unique strengths and talents, carefully weaving something beautiful around and through my broken and weak places.

I had a lot to learn back then. I still do now. But I’m grateful to God for giving me the gift of motherhood back then, even when I was perhaps least qualified.

Now I want to remember to give others the gift of my confidence and encouragement even when they may be least qualified. Thankfully I’m not in charge of matching babies to families but sometimes God does ask me to share a smile or a helping hand.

If there’s something I’ve learned over these few years of motherhood, it’s that God may not use the best or the brightest but He does a fantastic job of transforming a reluctant woman like me into a grateful mom.

What has motherhood taught you? What do you know now that you didn’t before you became a mom?

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