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I wasn’t sure about this mothering gig. I wasn’t the girl who dreamed of being a mom and had all my kids’ names picked out. I liked babies…in other people’s arms. Kids were fun… for short periods of time. Seriously, I was the one who got tied up with jump ropes when babysitting. I wasn’t exactly a kid-person.
Friends told me with stars in their eyes, “Oh, but it’s different when you have your own kids!” I watched them have babies and morph into mushy piles of jello with googly eyes and squeaky voices. I smiled, held their little ones, then handed them back. I was happy for them. Truly. I just wasn’t sure I was cut out to be a mom. I’m not an overly emotional person, and I thought mommyhood required googly eyes, baby-talk, and incessant conversations about bottles and diapers and the baby’s amazing achievements. I wasn’t sure I could stomach it all. Literally (get it, pregnancy…stomach…).
Then one day, after about 7 ½ years of marriage, long after our families quit asking for grandbabies, Kedron and I had a baby of our own. I was terrified, excited, but mostly terrified. I remember after the initial dizzying post-birth weeks ended, I came to the horrifying realization that she depended entirely on me for everything. I leaned over her pack-n-play as a wave of nausea brought me to my knees. Surely, the hospital should have required some exit exam, and I wouldn’t have passed! Why did they let her go home with me?
I put on a brave front, but for the first couple years of motherhood, I was certain that everyone around me thought I was an unqualified, unfit mother. I thought anyone could do a better job than I was doing. I over-analyzed every comment and was easily wounded by well-meaning people just trying to be helpful.
It wasn’t until our second child was born that I realized that I knew more than I thought I did and that I was more capable than I first thought.
When T-Rex was a month old he came down with a nasty cold. I had a hunch that it wasn’t just a cold. After three days of doctor visits, and being repeatedly told he was fine, I KNEW the doctors were wrong. My mother-bear instinct came into full-effect. If it weren’t for the fact that I had laryngitis, the doctors would have heard me roar. Instead, all they got was a mad squeak (probably best for their sake). I hovered over my baby. I didn’t sleep, I analyzed his every breath. And I prayed that his low grade fever would spike high enough that the doctors would be forced to listen to me. Day three, that’s exactly what happened.
His temperature hit 102, and as a one-month old, that means you go straight to the E.R. complete with a spinal tap and IV. I was scared, but relieved. Finally, they were listening to what I knew from day one. It wasn’t just a cold. He had RSV, and spent a week in the hospital. With our families 1,200 miles away, Kedron and I were thrust into the thick of parenting. We weathered it together, standing firm as the waves of uncertainty and fear beat against us. We came out stronger and more confident.
I realized what mattered most wasn’t some fuzzy feeling about motherhood and gushy baby talk. Rather, I discovered a fierce mother’s love — the ability to advocate and fight for my child, even when the professionals weren’t listening, and the tenacity to never give up. I learned to believe in myself and trust my God-given instincts.
If you’re insecure and certain that everyone around you thinks you don’t have what it takes, or if you’re in that mode of fiercely fighting for your child – you are stronger than you think you are and more capable than you ever believed. YOU are the parent God called to raise this child. You are not alone. Keep believing, keep fighting, keep speaking up.
If you’re terrified of becoming a parent – know that your stereotypes of what parenting involves might not be accurate. In fact, your parenting will be as unique as your fingerprint. And that’s a good thing, because there never will be another child on earth just like yours.