Mothers talk about falling in love with their babies at first sight. Unlike when they met their husbands-to-be, falling in love wasn’t a process—love came immediately. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. However, that’s not always the case.
Those long nights of nursing every two hours, wandering the moonlit halls with a baby who seems to never stop crying, I felt shame wash over me as I wondered, Did I make a mistake? This isn’t what I thought motherhood would be.
When we see motherhood on Instagram, we see cute boys and girls dressed in floral dresses and sweet suspenders. We see giggles, and trim mothers with bright smiles holding their babes on their hips. We see the new smiling baby at church. We think, “How much joy could motherhood bring me? How sweet would I look with a baby in my arms? How delightful would it be to see my baby smiling back at me?”
What we don’t think about is the possibility that we may not always enjoy motherhood. That motherhood isn’t all bliss and sloppy kisses. Or how we will cope when the postpartum depression kicks in. Or how we will survive those endless days trapped in our home breastfeeding a baby going through a growth spurt. Or how we will make it through the colic.
I experience days like this, and I know the only thing sustaining me is the grace of God. If motherhood has taught me anything, it is that God will hold me fast.
I am tempted to believe my parenting methods will keep me going. I am tempted to believe my Bible reading plan will save me. I am tempted to believe my husband’s strong arms will be what holds me up—both physically and emotionally. I am tempted to believe keeping my house clean will keep me standing tall. I am tempted to believe that my daily shower is what will keep me sane amidst the screeching cries.
Though those things may be important, they are not sustaining me. They cannot be my refuge. They will ultimately fail me—and fail me hard. I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to the plethora of parenting methods. It’s a miracle if I can sit through five minutes of reading the Bible before Levi is crying for me to start walking again. Some days, my husband is just as tired as I am and needs sleep so he can go to work in the morning. Most days, my floors are covered in dust and hair (because I’m still in that postpartum hair loss stage). And sometimes my baby decides he’s going to skip the morning nap that I use to get my shower.
If motherhood has taught me anything, it is the worthlessness of trusting in anything but God. It’s shown me how I vainly trusted in these other things to get me through motherhood on those difficult days. I was the man spoken of in Psalm 52:7, “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” (ESV).
Motherhood is teaching me to be someone different, to be like the green olive tree.
“But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.
I will thank you forever,
because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good,
in the presence of the godly.” Psalm 52:8-9 ESV
Some days, I don’t love motherhood. Some days are hard. Some days I struggle to enjoy my chubby baby. But in every moment, even the joyful ones, I need to learn to trust in God, knowing he will hold me fast. I am learning to trust in God, not myself, not my methods, not my systems. But as my baby cries, to hold him close to my chest and sing,
“When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold;
He must hold me fast.”
It is God who will hold you fast, dear mother. Rely on him alone.
“He Will Hold Me Fast,” by Ada Habershon (1861-1918), Public Domain.