Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lies I Believed About Motherhood

I remember the day I took that first pregnancy test quite vividly. I’d been having some subtle symptoms for a week and half or so but I’d convinced myself it was all in my head. I definitely could not be pregnant. And then I thought, “Oh what the heck, I’ll just take one.”
Lo and behold, two blue lines. I was pregnant.
It was both exciting and terrifying. There was a tiny, little human being inside of me! I couldn’t believe it. I was actually going to be a mom. All my life I couldn’t wait to have kids of my own. And then when it was there, staring me right in the face, I suddenly felt very nervous. Was I really ready to be a mom?
As my pregnancy progressed I felt less scared and more excited. By the end of my pregnancy I could hardly wait to have my little man. I just wanted him here in my arms. (And I was really done being pregnant)
And then, at long last, he was here. My beautiful little boy. (Okay, I admit when he first came out he was kind of weird looking) They placed him on my chest for the first time and I nearly cried tears of joy. It was incredible.
And then we brought him home. And that’s when the real work began. It’s strange how being a mom, and a parent in general, can be both the best job in the world and the hardest. With no pay. Actually it’s more like negative pay. Yet, despite the trials that come with being a mom, it’s all worth it.
Even though I haven’t been a mom for very long, I’m beginning to realize there were things I believed about motherhood that really aren’t true. Ideas I've believed for so long I didn't realize how it was effecting the way I view myself and the way I view motherhood. It’s been a slow process, coming to terms with some of these ideas. But I've realized by believing these lies my view of motherhood has been twisted. It makes me feel like a failure, like I will never be good enough mother to my son. I realized that the enemy was messing with my head, twisting good things into things that hold me back and make me feel inadequate.
So these are just a few of the lies I've believed, whether consciously or not, for a majority of my life. And I think it's safe to say that there are many women out there who've believed these lies, who've let society tell them what a good mom looks like. My hope is that by opening up about this issue I've faced that other mothers out there can also do the same. So these are the lies I believed about motherhood.

Lie #1.Being a wife and mom will completely fulfill me
Back when I was in high school I had such a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Did I want to be massage therapist? Did I want to be a teacher? Did I want to be an Imagineer for Disney? I bounced back and forth between this and that. Nothing ever really sticking. And in retrospect I can see why. It’s because even though I didn’t know what I wanted to be, I knew someday I wanted to be a wife and mom. It seemed a little silly to spend my time and money on college education when, in the end, my hope was simply to be a stay-at-home mom.
And then, shortly after I graduated my husband and I got married and three months later we were pregnant. It was just the sort of fairy tale ending I had hoped for. But just a few weeks after I had Levi I began to realize that motherhood is hard. I knew it would be, but I didn't know how much. And while I love my husband and son more than anything else in the world, I still didn’t feel completely fulfilled.
I know it shouldn’t have, but it shocked me. How could what I’ve dreamed of my entire life, not fulfill me? How could what God laid on my heart not fulfill me? It seemed crazy. I’d wanted this my whole life and now it didn’t feel like enough. And only recently did I begin to learn the truth.
Even though being a wife and mom is part of who I am, it is not solely who I am. My world had been revolving around being a wife and mom, even before I was either, when it should have been revolving around Jesus. I know that God put it on my heart to be a wife and mom, but idolizing my husband and son had left me bitter and empty. True fulfillment comes when I surrender my life to Christ. And by doing that I’ve learned to appreciate and love being a wife and mom even more. Go figure, right?

Lie #2. I will instantly bond with my child
As I mentioned earlier it was one of the most amazing days when my little baby boy was born, albeit hard, but nonetheless amazing. When they laid him on my chest for the first time it was the best feeling in the world. After all of this hard work, he was finally here. We had a magical “golden hour” (or two if I’m honest). I felt elated. I was on cloud nine. Nothing could bring me down!
And then the epidural wore off. And the adrenaline died down. I was tired. I was in pain. And suddenly I had more responsibility than ever before. Levi had trouble nursing at first. I was struggling with breastfeeding. Oh, and did I mention I was exhausted and in a lot of pain? Suddenly, being a mom seemed a lot less magical.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Levi from the moment I met him. But I just didn’t feel that instant bonding that other women say they felt. I know it may not have really been the case but it certainly felt like Levi preferred pretty much anyone else to me. Unless he was hungry. In the beginning I just felt like a milk machine. How come we didn’t have that special bond that moms share with their babies? Was I doing something wrong?
Once again, in retrospect, I can see the truth. The matter of the fact is, even though I’d carried this little guy for nine months, we still had to get to know each other. Like with any relationship, be it your spouse or your sister or your friend, the more time you spend getting to know them, the more you learn about one another and the more you bond. Sometimes, even mom and baby relationships just take time. And that’s okay. (That being said, if after a long time you still don’t feel bonded to your baby that can be a sign of postpartum depression so you really ought to talk with your doctor.)

Lie #3. I have to be superwoman
This is one lie that still plagues me. I have been slow to really take this to heart. But I know in my head that it’s simply not true.
I was so naive when it came to motherhood. Even though I’ve grown up working with kids there are still some things that took me off guard. I had all these ideas about what I was going to do once I was a mom. Things like making homemade baby food, and nursing for the first year and keeping my house clean all of the time.
Boy oh boy, was I in for a shock. Guess what? When you’re a mom, you’re kind of tired sometimes. I know. Truly shocking. It’s amazing how some days I feel like I’m so on top of things. I’ve done the laundry and the dishes. I’ve played with Levi and given him super healthy, homemade baby food.  I’ve even showered, put on makeup and a cute outfit! Look out world, here I come!
And then the next day I’m chugging down coffee in sweatpants and it’s all I can do to make it til naptime. How could I be so awesome one day and so… not awesome the next? And why did I feel like such a failure for simply being tired?
Well I’m learning, very slowly I might add, that I don’t have to superwoman. Striving to be a good wife and mom is a very good thing. But trying to be perfect twenty-four/seven is impossible. Not to mention, absolutely exhausting. The thing is, kids don’t really care if you’re superwoman or not. At the end of the day if your kids are fed and loved, then you’re doing a pretty good job.

Lie #4. I will love being a mom all the time
This lie sort of goes back to the very first one, thinking that motherhood will somehow completely fulfill you. Thinking that you will love every second of every day of being a mom. The truth is, you won’t. I’m sure by now you’ve realized motherhood is no picnic. It’s hard work. Changing poopy diapers, cleaning up perpetual messes, finding mysterious crusty substances stuck to your jeans. (Is it poop? Is it spit up? Is it baby food? Guess we’ll never know..)
It’s enough to drive any sane person completely bonkers! And sometimes, I don’t love being a mom. Sometimes I long for the days when I could just leave the house whenever I wanted. Now I have to pack up a baby and pray that I can get my errands finished before he has a meltdown.
For a while I felt so guilty about this. I had always wanted to be a mom, why would I not love being a mom all the time? I’ve come to realize, it’s okay if I don’t love being a mom all the time. I was a person before I became a mom. I will be a person after my children grow up and leave. Sometimes, even the best moms, just need a break. And that's okay.

Lie #5. I’m Not Strong
This isn’t so much a lie I believed about motherhood, but a lie I believed about myself. I’ve never felt particularly strong either physically or spiritually. I’ve never been super outgoing or brave or courageous.
But perhaps the first thing I learned about motherhood; that I am way stronger than I ever knew. It takes strength to carry a baby for nine months and deal with all the lovely side effects of pregnancy. It takes strength to bring a baby into this world, regardless of the type of birth you have. It takes strength to get up at three in the morning, more tired than you’ve ever been, and nurse your baby while your husband sleeps soundly. (Seriously. So not fair)
Becoming a mom is learning that you are stronger than you ever knew or believed possible. Being a mom is not for the faint of heart. And yet, so many women I know are incredible, strong mothers. (My own being the best obviously;)
We may not be perfect moms. We will all make mistakes. We will all be tired. But to be a mom is a privilege and a blessing. And yes it’s one of the hardest jobs out there. But it is one of the best.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

This Is Me

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go see the movie The Greatest Showman. It was, in my opinion, an amazing movie and I would highly recommend it to everyone. If you have not yet seen it I will try not to give away any spoilers but the story itself is truly captivating and extremely touching.
However, there is a particular song in there that really got to me. It’s the song called, This Is Me. If you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about, but if you haven’t I’ll give you a quick rundown. In the movie the song is sung by the bearded lady (yes, a lady with a beard) and she simply talks about how she spent her life being ashamed of who she was and she was done with that. It’s truly a heart rending song.
The first few lines of the song go,
I am not a stranger to the dark, hide away- they say, ‘cuz we don’t want your broken parts. I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars, run away-they say, no one’ll love you as you are...”  Later on she continues saying, “This is brave. This is bruised. This is who I’m meant to be. This is me.”
It’s an amazing song with such a powerful message.
And I remember sitting in the movie theater wanting to cry because how often have I been afraid and ashamed of who I am? How many times have I felt so broken that I thought there was no way anyone could ever love me as I am?
I’ve never been a super outgoing person. It takes me a long time to warm up to people and truly feel comfortable. I’ve always been the kind of person who sits in the back of the classroom or in the back of the church. I’ve always said it’s because I like keeping an eye on other people and because I don’t like the feeling of people watching me. But if I’m honest, the reason I stay in the back is because it’s easier to hide that way.
If people can’t see me then they won’t try to talk to me. I won’t have to be vulnerable. It’s easier to hide that way. Hide my sorrows, my scars, my mistakes. I mean, who could ever love the girl who used to cut herself? Who could ever love the girl who has struggled with depression her entire life? No. It’s much safer to hide. After all, if people don’t know who you are then they can’t judge you, right?
And I wonder if I’m not the only one who feels this way. The world can be a cruel place, full of judgement and hate and prejudice. The world doesn’t want broken people. It wants beautiful, perfect people living beautiful, perfect lives.
So we pretend. We put on a show. We hide. Don’t let anyone in. Don’t show the world your scars and your bruises and your mistakes. Nobody wants to see that.
But as Christians, is that the life God calls us to? To hide and be afraid and ashamed of who we are and what we’ve done? I don’t think so.
I remember when I first wanted to start this blog. I wanted to express myself, to step out of the shadows, so to speak. But honestly, I was terrified. I remember thinking to myself, “Why would anyone want to read or even care about what you have to say?” But I went ahead and put myself on the line anyway, voicing my opinions and being extremely vulnerable at times.
And the strangest thing happened. Instead of people running away in fear or throwing metaphorical tomatoes at me, people listened to me. With each new post I watched the number of readers rise.
Not only that but there were people who reached out to me and said they felt that same way, that they were going through the same things.
Because I had the courage to step out of my comfort zone, God showed me just how amazing it can be to be vulnerable and authentic.
And I wonder what would happen if we all did that? If we could all be brave enough to be authentic and in turn to love people as they come, not as we think they ought to be. Because at the end of the day we all have our bruises and scars, we’ve all made mistakes and we’ve all been hurt. And I bet everyone’s had that thought cross their mind, “How could anyone ever love me?”
But that’s just the thing. God calls us to love one another. He calls us to be a light in this dark world. And how can a light shine if it’s hidden under a basket?
So I pray that we can all learn to be authentic and real and love people regardless of their brokenness, that we would be who God has called us to be even when it’s hard.
I am not perfect. I have made mistakes. I’ve been hurt and rejected at times. I have scars, both physical and emotional. But I can’t let those moments define me. That’s not who God has called me to be.
I am brave. I am bruised. I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Getting Married Young Isn't Such A Bad Thing

My husband and I got engaged when we were just 18 years old. It was one of the happiest days of my life, even if didn’t quite go according to plan (long story there). And then, nearly ten months later we got married at just 19 years old. Most people were very happy for us and encouraged us and were Godly examples for us to follow.
Others, well, not so much. No one ever told me outright that it was crazy I was getting married so young. But there were a few occasions when I told people I was engaged and they definitely gave me funny looks, possibly questioning my judgement or whether I happened to be pregnant. I wasn’t.
So why on earth would I go and do something crazy like marry my best friend? (Gee I dunno, maybe because we were in love?) Why would I miss out on my youth and settle down so young?
Maybe because marriage isn’t about ME. Maybe it’s about making a life with the person I love more than anyone in the world. If I get to spend the rest of my life living for someone else, caring for their needs and their happiness, is that wasting my youth?
It seems that the past several decades there has been this strange taboo on getting married young, even when fifty or sixty years ago people got married right out of high school all the time. In fact, both of my grandparents married their high school sweethearts and had marriages that lasted more than fifty years. Fifty years people!
Interestingly enough, I’ve realized recently that I know A LOT of people who are rebelling against this cultural norm and getting married young anyway. And who doesn’t love a rebel?
And I’ve started to realize that us “crazy kids” getting married young have several things in common. Things that actually aren’t that crazy.

For one; We don’t want to live together before we get married.
I know. Absolute, utter nonsense. I remember when I was engaged both my parents got a ton of flack for letting their 19 year old daughter get married. “Why don’t they just live together?” People asked them, as if somehow that was a better alternative. But what is the difference really between getting married and living together, except that in one case you’ve made a lifetime commitment to another person and in the other case there will always be one foot out the door. Just in case.
But in marriage, there is no, one-foot-in, one-foot-out. It’s all or nothing. Which brings me to my next point.

We understand the sanctity and commitment of marriage.
We don’t want to date around. We don’t want to party. We value things like marriage and family and commitment.
Most of the people I know who don’t want to settle down are people who like to drink and party and mess around. They don’t want to be tied down. They want experiment. They think marriage is a piece of paper and it doesn’t mean anything.
We disagree. We believe there is so much more to life than partying. Like serving our spouse, even when we aren’t “feeling the love.” We want a family, and to raise our children in an upright manner. Most of all though, we aren’t afraid to settle down and commit to one single person for the rest of our lives.
I wonder who is really more mature?

Lastly; We want to start our lives with the person we love.
I’ve never actually seen the movie but I’ve heard the quote, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” (When Harry Met Sally)
I’m not sure I could really say it any better. If you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, whether at 19 or 39, why wait?
Because age equals maturity? I think everyone knows that’s not really true in the long run. Some people are ready to be married at 19 and others not until much later.

But, I digress. The point is, getting married young is not such a bad thing. Every morning I get to wake up to the man of my dreams. And fall asleep next to him every night.
We get to build a life together. My husband and I never lived together, so when we moved in together after we got married we got to enjoy the newness of getting married. We learned more about each other (for better or worse). We figured out how to work as a team and do things together. We weren’t stuck in our old ways like some people are when they enter into marriage.
But one of the best things about getting married young; we get to be there for all those big milestones in life. I got to be there when my husband was accepted into his program. I’ll get to be there when he graduates and when he gets his first job as an ultrasound tech. We got to experience the joy of having our first child together. We will get to go through life together, enjoying the ups and downs together.
I can’t imagine anything better than going through life with my favorite person by my side. Sure there will be (and there have been) storms along the way. We’ve been thrown more than a couple of curveballs. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies and happy young love. Sometimes it’s really hard. It takes work. But it is always worth it in the end.

So yes, getting married young isn’t a bad thing at all. And though some people might find it a little crazy, I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all. It has been the greatest adventure, and I look forward to many more.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

No Social Media - One Week In

January 7th my husband and I set out to essentially “fast” from social media, tv, and video games for 30 whole days!! (I know, crazy)

We’re a little over one week in and it’s crazy how much our lives have changed already. Both in ways that were expected and unexpected.

Suddenly, without the distraction of facebook or pinterest or whatever, I have time to workout. (yay.) My husband and I have been sitting down at the table to eat dinner, instead of in front of the tv. We play with Levi more and read books and spend more time in the word instead of zoning out on our phones. Our house has stayed cleaner! Because when you’re free from distractions you suddenly have time to keep your house clean. Funny how that works.

Going into this challenge I was a little worried that I might get lonely. After all, when you live far from home, like we do, facebook is one of the few ways you can stay connected to friends and family back home. But strangely enough I didn’t really feel that lonely at all.

In some ways, I actually felt less lonely. Here’s where the unexpected part comes in. I realized a very harsh and bitter truth about myself: I look to social media for approval.


This challenge has been at times, very easy and yet very hard. Staying away from my phone wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it might be. The hard part was realizing that I wanted to post things sheerly for the approval of others. I wanted people to see me in a good light. I often post cute and funny pictures of my son, so that people will think I’m a good mom. (how that makes sense I’m truly not sure) I want people to think I’m funny and nice and that I’ve got it all together!
But if I’m honest with myself; I definitely don’t have it all together. I only ever post the good parts of my life. I don’t post pictures of a sink full of dirty dishes, or a picture of my messy house. I don’t post that I feel lonely or that since Levi’s been born we eat way more fast food than ever before. And whether I post the good parts of my life to convince others or myself that I’ve got it all together, I really don’t know.

But I wonder if I’m not the only one. I wonder if other people scroll through facebook feeling like everyone has it together except them. Ouch. That’s a tough pill to swallow. And it’s hard not to feel inadequate when see that super fit girl posting a post-workout selfie. Or the mom who seems to have mastered motherhood, making homemade meals, taking her perfect angels to the park everyday, all the while volunteering at the homeless shelter. Okay, I exaggerate, but still. How many of us post things that make it look like we have it all together when really, maybe we don’t?
And it’s not that I think we need to post every hardship or every depressing thought that comes into our heads on facebook. I simply wonder if we spent less time on facebook and more time truly connecting with people, if we’d be a little less lonely. Less depressed. Less of a need to put your best face forward and convince the world that you’re superwoman (or man).
Real, authentic people who care about one another. I wonder what would happen….

Monday, January 8, 2018

Politicians Are NOT Going To Save Us

Ugh. Politics. My least favorite topic in the whole world. So much passion on either side. So much… fighting.
I don’t know about you but anytime politics of any sort get brought up I dread the oncoming conversation. In fact, I’m dreading posting this at all because I know someone is not going to like what I have to say. And the thing is, it doesn’t even seem to matter whether I agree with them or not. There’s always arguing, disagreement, name-calling, hurt feelings… No. I’d like to stay as far away from that as possible.
However, this year it seems to be worse than usual. With the presidential election last year I’ve witnessed more political tension and strife than I ever have before. Every way you look someone is angry about something. And someone else is angry with them for being angry about whatever the first person was angry with!
Anger. Fear. Tension. Strife. Quarreling. Name-calling on Facebook. It’s all too much for me sometimes. So often I’ve wondered why we can’t just calm down and talk things out civilly, like adults. Because I’ve worked in a daycare. I know a temper tantrum when I see one. And these days it seems like there are an awful lot of toddlers trapped in adult bodies.
Now I don’t want to say all of this to make people mad. Heaven knows that is the last thing I want.
But a few weeks ago I came to a realization. I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across some political piece criticizing something or other. It was one of those people who is constantly posting political things. (It doesn’t really matter who but we all know that person) Normally I just scroll on. I tend to avoid controversial fighting on Facebook (and real life too if I’m being honest).
But for some reason I paused and read this particular little ad. It was something about the president being a nazi or some such. Now I don’t know if that’s true or not (and that’s not really the point) but it made me stop and think.
This person, for whatever reason, truly believed our president was acting like a nazi. It was in that moment that I realized I had a hope that this person did not have. The hope of Jesus.
For a moment I saw the world as they saw it. They believed the people in power did not have the people’s best interests at heart. They thought they were nazis, tyrants, the big dogs on top. Whatever you want to call them. And they were scared.
And I realized I would be scared too if I had to put my entire faith into a human being. Let alone a human being that I didn’t think was a good person.
And suddenly my heart broke.
All of these people, left to put their hope in no one but a human being. A faulty, broken human being. To be honest, I don’t know how they do it. I don’t know how someone could live without the hope that Jesus offers.
But I do know one thing.
“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding…” Daniel 2:21
I don’t pretend to know why God does the things he does. I don’t always like the people he puts in power. I don’t always want to follow where he leads. But I do know this; Politicians are NOT going to save us. Human beings are NOT going to save us. The nicest, most honest person on the planet is still NOT going to save us.
Because people will always let us down. Even the people who care about us most will let us down. Because none of us are perfect and we’re all more than a little broken.
But I’m not afraid. This world can be a scary, dark, cruel place, but the light of Jesus will be my guide. Because in the end, he is the only one who can truly save us.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

30 Days - No Social Media

 Yes. You read that correctly. Thirty days. No social media.

Why would I attempt such a strange and arduous task? Well. Here’s the thing. Have you ever thought about how much time you spend just scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram?
Personally, I try not to. Largely because, well, I know I spend WAYYY too much time on there. I find myself getting on to just check one little thing, really quick, and suddenly, an hour has gone by just scrolling. And usually by the time I realize I’ve wasted a precious hour (or two or three) of my life and logout, I find that I forgot why I even got on there in the first place!
To my dismay, it has become a vicious cycle. It’s made worse by the fact that to certain extent we need our phones and laptops. We need to get a hold of people. We need them to be able to get a hold of us. We need to answer emails and texts and check assignments online. Our world has sadly made it nearly impossible to live without modern technology.
But what if, for thirty whole days, we said no. No to Facebook. No to Instagram. No to Pinterest. It sounds so dreadfully hard!
I don’t know about you but I wonder how our lives would change. Would we have more time and energy to do the things we actually wanted? More time to spend with our friends and our families? More time to spend reading God’s word?
For me, I know I tend to make excuses when it comes to having the time to do things. I don’t have time to workout. I don’t have time to read my bible. I don’t have time to do homework or laundry or dishes!
But if I’m brutally honest with myself, I do. But isn’t it so much easier to pull out our cell phones and just mindlessly scroll? We can spend hours watching videos about cats or food or fails. We can spend hours pinning and stalking people we used to know on Facebook. It’s just so easy.
But is it really life fulfilling? Uh oh.
The truth is, we have a lot more time than I think we even realize. I can (and often do) spend hours on Pinterest looking for the perfect workout, when I could really just.. Go work out. The sad fact is, I’m only just beginning to realize how much time I do waste. And if there’s one thing we can never get back, it’s the time we have on this earth.
The reason my time has suddenly become so very precious to me is because, well, I have a baby. He’s growing before my very eyes and before I know it he’ll be all grown up. I don’t want to miss that.
So for the next thirty days my husband and I are abstaining from social media. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Pinterest. (because my husband is the pinterest addict obviously…) We’ve also decided to include television and video games because those are other big time wasters for us. We will still be using our phones for texting and calling, but that’s pretty much it.
Along the way I plan to write and blog about our experience with this “Thirty Day Challenge”. For me, writing is life fulfilling so I don’t see that as wasted time. But I don’t want to just stop wasting time. I want to fill my life with the things, the people and the God I love. And I know I just can’t do that sitting in front of a screen.
So tomorrow, January 7th, is Day One for me. The last day will be February 5th. If you would like to join me that would be amazing and I'd love to hear all about it! If not, I completely understand. But it’s never too late to make a change

Thursday, January 4, 2018

The New Year as a Young Mom

           The past few days a lot of people have asked if I did anything fun to celebrate the New Year, to which I laughed and responded with, "No. I have a baby." But in all reality this New Year's one of the most special I've had the privilege of celebrating, and probably not for the reason you think.

You see, here’s the thing about becoming a parent; your life never really goes back to the way it was. Sure your life settles down eventually, you get into a rhythm and a routine, you learn the ins and outs of parenthood and find a new “normal”. But it’s never quite the same.
As a parent you suddenly find yourself devoting a good chunk of your time and energy to keep another sweet, adorable, sometimes seemingly possessed, little human being alive. You feed them, change them, lay them down for naps (or die trying). You soothe boo-boos and temper tantrums. You clean up vomit and blowouts and other messes resulting from bodily functions you didn’t even know about until you became a parent.
No. After you have kids your life is never the same. But it’s not just because of the endless pile of laundry you seem to have these days (who knew the tiniest person in the house could up the laundry exponentially?). It’s not because everywhere you go now you have to lug a giant car seat or corral a bunch of toddlers into your new, sweet, minivan. It’s not even because a new, little human changes the entire dynamic between you and your spouse.
The biggest thing that changes is that, in a way, your life is no longer your own. Somebody’s very life is placed into your hands. You literally have the power to shape someone’s entire existence, for better or worse. You nurture them and care for them and help them grow. It’s difficult and amazing and challenging and wonderful and at times… lonely.

There. I said it.

Because when you have kids, you give up nearly everything. And it’s worth it. SO worth it. But suddenly you have to make sacrifices and put someone’s needs before your own desires. It’s very similar to getting married, except that you’re marrying an adult who can (hopefully) take care of themselves and survive perfectly fine without you.
But when you have a baby they’re quite literally dependent on you for EVERYTHING. You sacrifice your sleep, your freetime, your hobbies, date nights, girls nights, showers, vacations, and much, much more.

And at times, it’s really, really hard.

And it’s made harder when you feel like no one else really gets it. You see, I didn’t really get a typical “teenage experience”. I started taking college classes at sixteen and got a job a few months later. Then I graduated, got engaged at eighteen, married at nineteen and after three months of marriage learned that I was pregnant.
It was exciting! And fun! We were having a baby! But here’s the thing about getting married young and having a baby, you kind of feel like the odd one out.
I’ve realized the past few months that a strange sort of resentment had been building up inside of me. My and husband and I don’t exactly fit the mold. College age students who are married with a baby are just not something you find much these days. Sure we have married friends with kids, but they’re several years older than us. And we have some younger friends who are married, but most of them aren’t ready to have a kids yet.
And then there are the friends who aren’t married at all. The ones who are going to school and traveling to other countries and having fun 21st birthday parties. Just living life and embracing their youth!
And sometimes I scroll through facebook and can’t help but feel like an outsider. Like I missed out somehow. I didn’t get to go to a university. I didn’t get to study abroad and travel. I didn’t get to have a fun night out with my friends for my 21st.
And to be honest it took me longer than it should have to realize what was going on. I was jealous. Jealous of the friends who can go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Jealous of the friends who’ve decided to wait on kids and now get to travel with their friends or spouses. Jealous that they could sleep whenever they felt like it! (Seriously though. Sleep is a luxury these days.)
And when you’re one of the only people your age with kids it’s really easy to feel completely alone, like nobody gets it. After all, there’s a reason people are waiting to have kids. I realized I’d been begging some of my friends and family to have kids not because “It’s the best thing ever!” and “Levi needs friends and cousins!” but mostly because I didn’t want to feel so alone in motherhood.

Then it hit me the other day like a ton of bricks. After church my husband and I loaded up Levi and decided to go for a hike. We strapped Levi into his carrier and started walking. It was a beautiful day. A little cold, but the sun was shining and we hiked along the lake. And I realized, I loved my family.
I know, shocker.
      But it was more than just realizing my love for my family. I’ve always loved them. It was realizing that I loved them so much that I’d looked to them for complete fulfillment, when I should have been looking to God. I love my husband and my son. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. But they will never be enough for me. At the end of the day God is the only one who can truly fulfill me.
In that moment, it was as if he whispered into my heart, reminding me that I love the life he has given me, that he has placed me where I am for a reason.
God has placed me in my life as a wife and a mother. He hasn’t placed me in a big university. He hasn’t placed me overseas traveling. He hasn’t placed me at some party. He’s placed me right here, right now as a wife and mom. It’s tempting to feel like I missed out somehow. But if this is the life God has called me to, am I really missing out?

And later that night, while other people were ringing in the new year with parties and events and fireworks I was sitting in a rocking chair holding my sweet, sleepy, baby boy. And for the first time in along time I realized I wouldn’t have it any other way.