Thursday, July 07, 2011

Lessons from Motherhood

When you have your own child, everyone tells you, you will know. You'll know their tired cry from their hungry cry. You'll know their routines and preferences. You'll even know their stool pattern.

It's a comforting thought, this idea of knowing. It sounds so clear, so certain, so confident. It sounds like the kind of parent I want to be.

But I have to say, that so far, three months into motherhood, I don't really feel like I know much of anything. Ellie's hungry cries sound pretty much the same to me as her tired cries. One night she sleeps nine hours straight; the next she is up every three hours. Somedays, she eats ravenously; somedays, she refuses to eat for hours on end. And stool patterns? Don't get me started.

The other day, I was telling my good friend Rachel, who used to be a roommate of mine, about how Ellie is so inconsistent and about how frustrating it is to me that I can't figure her out. She just laughed. "Sorry, Abby," she said, "I just think it's so funny that God would give you that kind of child."

This is, after all, the same Rachel who thrives on not having a schedule, the same Rachel who used to repeatedly move a flower arrangement in the bathroom we shared, just to see how long it would take me to put it back into place (not long, in case you're curious!).

Having a roommate like Rachel was good for me; she taught me to be a little more spontaneous, to worry less about having everything perfect and to spend more time enjoying life.

It's still too early to tell if Ellie's inconsistency is just part of her being a baby or if it's part of her life-long temperment, but either way, I am trying to trust that all the things I can't figure out about her, that which I don't know, is for my good, in the same way that having a roommate like Rachel was for my good.

Already, Ellie is teaching me too. She is teaching me to persevere, to keep trying when a particular approach or schedule doesn't work immediately. She is teaching me to find the middle ground somewhere between the two extremes where I tend to live - either adhering perfectly to my goals and plans or quitting altogether. And as a result, she is teaching me dependence on God, for this middle ground is not a place I can stay on my own strength.

As I work with Ellie, I am beginning to realize that my desire to know is really pride and self-reliance at their finest, my heart screaming to be able to manage, predict, and control - all by myself, thank you very much. Instead, God is asking me to cry out to Him for wisdom as I walk forward into this task of parenting, full of much which I may never know.

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