Recently I was asked to share a devotional at a baby shower for a first time mommy. I kept remembering the most asked question I got as a new mom – But…what do you do at home all day? I started writing and this is what came out. Not your typical devotional. There might be a cuss word and I might talk a little too much about boobs. Enjoy. Also, you were warned…
3:28am. I heavy sigh loud enough for what, I hope, will wake up Husband so he can burp and cajole our sweet newborn back to sleep. There’s no movement. I do this a few more times, before reaching over to push his shoulder. Instead, my arm finds the knee of our preschooler who has crawled into bed with us sometime in the wee hours, then reaching further finds the body pillow Husband has cleverly used to barricade himself from said preschooler knee. New baby’s cries are growing louder and neither her baby dragon noises nor my sighs are waking him up. The king sized bed makes him too far to reach. So, in what I consider to be a very charitable act, I tug a corner of his pillow until his head’s within reach and give him a moderate whap on the back of the head. He’s awake now. I pretend to be in deep REM’s.
It’s 5:07am. I’m breastfeeding the newborn (again) and will myself to stop calculating how many hours of sleep I might still get before the others wake up. The double-puddles of escaped breast milk on my side of the bed have turned icy, but I flop back down anyway, too tired to care.
6:02am. My husband kisses me on the forehead as he leaves for work. In my mind I wave a hand out of the covers, and send him away with the loving encouragements only a wife can give. I’m told later what really happened; I sleep-swatted him away, rolled over, and emitted a slow, gurgling exhale that sounded somewhere between a low growl and a dying elephant.
6:47am. I open my eyes and my heart is immediately both running sprints in my chest and dropping to my stomach. There is a preschooler standing beside my bed, inches away from my face. Who knows how long she’s been silently staring at me. I congratulate myself for only gasping and not lapsing into an “oh sh–!” There’s a reason they put little kids in horror movies. This is terrifying!
6:49. Can’t convince the preschooler to get in bed with me. The two year old is shouting for someone, anyone, to “Get me out MINE CRIIIIIIIIB!” and the newborn wants to eat again. I make a few mental calculations and wonder how much coffee I can drink before my milk factory becomes permanently contaminated. I recite the Mother’s Creed, “Dear Jesus. Thank you for today. Help me get out of bed. Sustain me. Amen.”
7-9am. We take that entire two hours to prepare for the day. It’s pretty much a blur, but I do know there are multiple snacks made, boob feeding sessions, diapering, and re-diapering. Somehow we all make it into the car.
10:32. Having already trekked to the Mecca for all mamas, Target, we’re at the park. My left eye is taking on properties equal to an iguana as I keep watch over the preschooler in my periphery while simultaneously hoisting the toddler into a swing with just my left arm. Meanwhile, I clutch the newborn to my right nipple. Helpfully, my nipple is so stretched out after the cumulative years of feeding babies that this maneuver isn’t a problem. I consider offering it to the kids to jump-rope with later.
12:58pm. Everyone is napping. Correction. Everyone is in a bed and that’s good enough for me. I’m sitting on the couch watching The Voice and wondering how I can creep “totes cool” and “supes presh” into my vocabulary without feeling like a complete phony. There is a swaddled baby against my chest looking like the most beautiful burrito bundle I’ve ever seen. I lean my cheek against her downy head and breathe in that cheesy newborn smell. I need to pee and I really want to sneak some chocolate, but I’m not gonna get up and disrupt this perfect moment in time.
3:42pm. We’re driving home from our afternoon adventure and the preschooler is pointing out the window telling me what is nature God made and what things people made. She asks me questions about Jesus and the mystery of the Trinity. I summarize the book of Genesis and dissect Romans 6:23 using words a four year-old can understand. These are the transcending moments of parenthood. Thirty seconds later she and brother are locked in an arm pinching battle over a book they don’t want to share. Ahhhh, I think. This is more our zone. But it was good while it lasted.
7:25pm. We made it through the afternoon witching hours, dinner, and bedtime routine. The kids are in bed. The laundry bin I’m about to attack is tucked under my arm. Babes is slung close to my chest. I love feeling those little flutters of breath on my neck. I’m walking down the hallway and overhear my oldest daughter giggle and ask questions about what Kindergarten will be like and what ice cream is made of while her Daddy cuddles her in a night-light lit room.
10:39pm. Husband and I are flopped on the couch trying to build up the energy to go to bed, but neither of us is willing yet. Partly we’re just too tired to move and partly because this is the little time we have to spend together. Babes is eating again. Husband looks and acts a little jealous of this child’s boob-domination. I remind him that there is a season for everything and quote some Ecclesiastes, but there’s nothing more annoying that having someone quote Bible verses at you when you just want to honk a hooter without opening up the lactational flood gates.
12:02am. The lights are all off and we’re in bed. We pray as extensively and fervently as possible. It goes something like this, “Please. Help. And thank you.” I think we started a conversation when we got in bed, but we keep falling asleep then waking up to say one word or a muffled phrase, so we let the conversation go. The baby is snuggled in between us, having just topped her up & sent her into a milk coma. She stays there until she sinks into a deep newborn dreamland of wombs and darkness and wobbly fluid before we move her into her own bassinet. This is discouraged in most parenting books and we pinky swear to both lie to the pediatrician about the sleep habits we are creating. There are some things we disagreed about today and some family business we haven’t come to a conclusion on, but we know when to call a spade a spade; or in this case, a day a day. We squeeze hands and say goodnight.
12:12am. I wake up and realize that squeezing hands is sweet but also incredibly stupid. I touch his arm to wake him up. He finds the energy to move in for a real kiss. “See you in a few hours, babe.” “Yep. See you in a few.”
And then it starts all over again.
My point in sharing my timestamp of a typical day is this:
Sometimes being a mama feels boring. Sometimes (but rarely) it feels like you’re performing your own rockstar concert and crowds are cheering for you in all your awesomeness. Sometimes it is ridiculously hard. You may find that you can’t remember the last time you showered and that your mama musk has become so potent it’s your home’s new pest repellant. That’s okay. You might find yourself forgetting to eat all day then shoving a handful of goldfish and pre-mashed, browned banana in your mouth at 3pm out of desperation. This is okay too.
Secretly we’re all just doing our best and hoping we don’t mess up too much.
The Bible has a zillion things to say about parenthood and marriage and love and families. But there is only one you really need to remember: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ.
The Message says it like this:
Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
When you are awake (again) at 4:14am and have been for 2 hours; I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.
When your child is screaming in the car because she is hungry or tired or simply pissed that you aren’t driving through the red light; I can make it through anything in the One…
When you’re cuddling a feverish baby and on the phone with the night nurse unsure whether to stay home until office hours in the morning or rush to urgent care; I can make it through anything…
It’s a steep learning curve, but you already have everything you need. You have the spirit of Christ who dwells in you. So whatever you have, wherever you are, you can make it through anything in Christ! Even mommyhood. Welcome.