Motherhood is a spiritual journey. Not a rainbow and moonbeam kind of journey. A journey that whittles away all the excess, that cuts back the branches of your egoic self, that leaves you raw.
I discover this daily. Layer by layer, moment by moment—except for last night. There was no gentle peeling back of layers. There was a cut right into the center of my growing heart.
Before last night, there was a day. No, more than a day. There have been months of me going a little crazy. See, you go a little crazy when you become a mother in a way that you could never understand before you become a parent.
You find yourself holding your sleeping child in your aching arms unable to put them down.
You find yourself staring at the color of their cheeks, the rise and fall of their breath, each eyelash, and perfectly formed mouth.
You begin to understand the phrase fearfully and wonderfully made, even if you had sometimes smirked shyly away from God and religion in the past—or at least I did.
Days are spent learning the hard work of worry. That’s 50 percent of what new motherhood is. Worrying about the mistakes you make, but doing the best you can each day anyway. Motherhood is learning how very wise and wonderful your own parents are, even if you parent differently than they did. You parent differently than you thought you would. You live differently than you did. You make mistakes, and try to mend them with faith.
Arrows of prayer are shot in short bursts, but with new fervor.
Meditation is done with a child attached to you, and you hope that the stillness will be shared. Presence is demanded from you and you are raw with answer.
Parenting is holy.
Parenting is holy and parenting is hard. And harder still when you are the kind of person who likes order, neatness, tidiness, and control. I am such a person. Also, I have had 35 years to organize my life in neatly folded piles.
There was teaching, yoga, breath, prayer, running, disordered eating, recovering from disordered eating, dating, friends, paying bills, falling in love, and family. I used my schedule as the thread to hold all of it together—even when I felt like things might fall apart.
There is no such schedule now. I am at the mercy of naptimes and diaper changes. To this, I have no choice but to surrender.
But still, there are things I try to hold onto and mold and shape into something I can make just the way I want it. I marvel still at the tiny hands that can reach out and grasp my fingers, and panic when those same tiny hands are touched by the hands of others—family and strangers alike. Random people on the street, strangers in the grocery store all have a story to tell you about birth or babies.
I never mind the story—I mind them reaching for my baby’s hands because I don’t know the last time they washed theirs, and I know his will go into his mouth.
I mind when friends want to hold my baby. Friends!
What if they don’t support his head? What if they pick him up by his arms? I allow these thoughts to spill out from my lips—or I cling even tighter to my little one. See—crazy! But crazy with love.
Except it’s not just friends that induce panic attacks. Since I can no longer control my schedule, my running, my weight, the time I have to make and plan meals, the days I get to take a shower, how much or even if I will sleep, I have started to exercise control over the way I think my husband ought to parent. This is where my control cut me to the core last night.
Evenings are usually a challenge. The witching hour is a time many parents know all too well. But I got a late start preparing dinner and my husband was on baby watch when he started crying. Crying! I dropped a half-chopped zucchini on the counter and ran across the room to scoop my baby from my husband’s arms.
Note: I said it-–my baby.
And while the transfer of our baby from my husband to me did make the crying stop, I saw the sharp, sad look from my husband’s eyes.
Motherhood is a spiritual journey. You go a little crazy with love, but you also need to recognize when you are crazy with wanting to control what isn’t yours alone to take in the first place.
Like the chance for a father to be a dad.
For a dad to learn to comfort his crying child. Like the chance for that child to learn that comfort can come from many places instead of just one.
And by handing our fussy baby back to his dad, I also gave myself a chance to see that he can quiet and calm and love our son just right.
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Apprentice Editor: Jessica Sandhu / Editor: Catherine Monkman