It's something that I've craved and longed for. It's also something, I'm quickly learning, that will challenge me and break me. And for good measure, I should probably forewarn you that this post might be all over the place, a bit random, and jumbled as there's so much I want to put to words that just haven't settled into place quite yet.
Before I was pregnant, I dealt with a slew of issues…mainly anxiety. I was a perfectionist at heart. A planner. A go-getter. I thrived off of staying busy and having a hand in everything. At first I thought these were my strengths, but then I quickly learned that these were my greatest weaknesses. When things didn't go the way I had planned or expected, I was inconsolable. It was as thought I was constantly trying to prove to the world that I was good enough. The ability to just "go with the flow" was not a concept I had grasped nor wanted to.
It's a beautiful thing when you see God reach down and make a transformation in your life. For me, that was my therapist. Oh bless her. Things got so much better and I finally started digging into why I was striving so hard for everything, and never taking care of myself. My anxiety and desire to have everything done just right slowly started to lift. It was still there a bit, but just not as present. When I was pregnant, my term "self-care" took on a whole new meaning as now I had someone who automatically was affected by my ability to take care of myself. And through the process of trying to get pregnant I learned to let go and just trust that things would work out. I thought I had it all figured out.
And then I had a baby. It's almost as if having a baby brings about every past issue or weakness you ever had and magnified it. If you compared yourself before baby, oh just you wait…it's a whole new ball game now. Not only are you thinking about how your baby is doing compared to another's, you compare your body, how much sleep you're getting, how often you exercise, what activities you're doing to get out of the house, if you're staying home instead of returning to work…and the list goes on.
Having a baby took my anxiety to a different level and I started to question everything. Was he getting enough to eat? Was I creating a bad habit by letting him sleep on my during the day? Are we doing enough tummy time? Is he supposed to have baby acne for this long? I think that it is the largest part of motherhood- this constant worry that infiltrates us. And so I would read books to help me better understand why my baby was being so fussy all. the. time. And I'd read how to get your baby to sleep better through the night. And I'd read how much he should be sleeping during the day now that he's not a newborn. And all of this reading would increase my anxiety because now I was comparing everything the book said to what Nathan did. And if Nathan was "off" or not doing what I had read, oh dear-I would be so thrown off.
And then God did something amazing. He showed me that all of this worrying was adding nothing to my life. And he surrounded me with amazing women who reminded me that it's alright to just let your baby do what they want to do. It's a pruning process, where all of these weaknesses and struggles are slowly getting pruned so that I can be the mother and woman God has intended me to be. I'm learning to put down the books and take their information with a grain of salt, because every baby is different. And I'm learning that it's okay if he sleeps on me during the day because at least he is sleeping, and it forces me to prop my feet up and rest. Anxiety and worry will always be there, but the biggest thing I'm learning is to not let it control every aspect of my life. I'd much rather get down on the floor, look into Nathan's big blue eyes, and see him smile back at me. I'd rather be involved and invested in his life than constantly worry if I'm doing enough.
There's so much that I've learned, and I know that this is just the beginning. And if I can encourage anyone who might deal with anxiety and worries like I do, it would be to trust that everything will work out! We can't add anything by living in fear or worry. We won't have everything together. We will have days where ugly mom tears are strewn across our faces and we will have days where all we do is smile over how amazing our babies are. Motherhood will take any weakness you ever had and magnify it. But I'm also learning that motherhood will also show you that you're much stronger than you ever thought you were.