Surprised By Motherhood {my story}

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#SurprisedByMotherhood {My Story}

I didn’t expect to be surprised by motherhood. My little sister was born when I was almost 12. My baby brother followed 3 years later. I was an old pro at changing diapers and cooking dinner with a baby on my hip by the time the baby I was juggling was my own.

I knew it would be different actually being the mom instead of the big sister. But I thought I knew what to expect. I thought I understood how much having a child was going to change my life, our life. And in a few ways, I probably was better prepared than some girls who haven’t helped raise siblings and babysit cousins. But in other ways, the very fact that I thought I knew what I was getting into was probably the reason I found some things so very surprising.

I was surprised to have one child that followed everything the books said–followed by two who didn’t. If our firstborn had been an only child, I’d have smugly thought (for a year or two, at least) that I had motherhood figured out. Sleeping through the night from early on, I could set the clock by her wake/eat/play/sleep schedule. She quieted the moment she was swaddled and was potty trained at 10 months. And then we had our second. Who has never slept well a night in her life. And is so stubborn that everything is a battle. Followed by the third who had medical and dietary issues who made everything about his babyhood a challenge. I wish I hadn’t been so quick to judge other children by my first.

I was surprised that the discussion of parenting methods could become so dogmatic and emotionally draining. I suppose that ever since the Old Testament our offspring has brought out the “mamma bear” in us all. But I never imagined that in my eager and excited sharing of “this is what worked for us” I would enter into the fray of parenting style debates. Nor could I comprehend the way the pit of my stomach would feel when I read equally sure opinions from both sides by the time I was babywearing and nursing around the clock with my third child. I wish we could discuss the ways we comfort and care for our babies without becoming prescriptive. I wish we could grant as much grace to other mothers as we ourselves need.

I was surprised by the fear that so quickly gripped my heart at the simple thought of my heart walking around outside my body, without me being able to hover every second of every day and night. I knew how prone I was to fear for my husband–and he was a grown man able to take care of himself. But almost losing him two months after we got married had taught me how precious life was. And when it came to babies, the stories of friends’ miscarriages, infertility, and struggling little ones brought the truth home even more. To deliver life is to give birth to pain and the potential for loss. I wish that when we share our stories of motherhood we would help birth trust and peace in each other.

I was surprised by the fact that it wasn’t easier to be patient and loving when the children I was caring for were finally my own. I’ve never been a patient person, but I thought the natural mother’s love I would feel for my own children would make up for my lack of forbearance. God does give an extra measure of grace to mothers; I know He does. It’s the only way we can survive on so little sleep. But I’ve learned that there’s no shortcut to being a patient mom. It’s moment by moment leaning into grace. I wish I’d understood that I would need grace for my children and even more patience with myself in my journey of motherhood.

Lisa-Jo Baker’s book Surprised By Motherhood releases today. Throughout its pages I laughed for the memories and I cried for the lost moments and I healed from the hurts. I wish every mother and daughter could read this book and together embrace the surprises of motherhood.

Head on over to Kindred Grace to read my review and enter for a chance to win your own copy!

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  1. Gretchen- I love this. I think in many ways, we are so similar. I’ve learned the same lessons and I’ve been surprised by “motherhood” in much the same way, even though it wasn’t with my own children. I love how personal God is. How He teaches us each the same lessons, with different circumstances, making it possible for women like Lisa-Jo to write her story and have it resound with each of us, no matter what path we’ve journeyed on.

    And I love that you can write with such grace and humbleness and compassion. You’re one of my heroes. 馃檪

  2. You sound like me 馃檪 I was so ready for this whole mothering thing. I’d do it like a pro.

    Having 3 brothers and 3 sisters, 4 of those between 9 and 14 years younger then myself, I knew everything there was to know about babies.

    My first proved this. He was a ridiculously easy baby, until he was 18 months or so anyway. By then the second one proved I did not know that much after all, and the oldest started developing his hurricane-tornado-earthquake character.

    All at once I realized I better shut my mouth instead of advising people to do it the way I was doing it since that worked so well for me.

    Now I’m just realizing I can’t do it at all, and my only hope is Christ. So good to know I can really and truly trust Him in all this!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. I think sometimes the opposite of this is true… “I was surprised by the fact that it wasn鈥檛 easier to be patient and loving when the children I was caring for were finally my own.” Sometimes it is harder to be patient with your own.

    1. Very true, Lisa! Since I’d done so much care of my siblings, I think it was easy to excuse my annoyance with them because they were my little brother and sister. Little did I know it would feel the same way with my children sometimes! 馃槈

      1. Totally. I think sometimes its harder with your own because you know what they are capable of and also they are with you all the time! When you need patience with other people’s kids it can be easier because you are only with them for a limited time before you can go home or whatever. Siblings I think are a whole other story! ha! I still have trouble being patient with mine. xoxo

  4. Being the youngest, I knew I was unprepared and was! But was also surprised by how much the whole “mothering instincts” thing was true. I’m still learning to trust them.

    Thanks for the post. So Excited to read the book when it arrives. The first three chapters were wonderful and from all the posts I’m reading of others who’ve already read it, I know it’s going to be one of my favorites.

  5. I started reading the Bible as an 18 year old in college, and became a Christian shortly after that. I was thrilled to finally have a life plan! The Bible answered all my questions in life. I do distinctly remember the surprise in reading Titus 2 that older women were to teach younger women to love their husbands and children. I didn’t doubt the Lord, but I couldn’t imagine why He’s have to put that in the Bible. I thought that if only I had a husband and children I would love them without any help from an older woman. Like the rest of you, I was surprised by motherhood. Like you, Gretchen, I was experienced, coming from a family of six kids and being the top babysitter in the neighborhood for years.

    I’ve learned to value older women and younger women. Older moms are seasoned, younger moms are enthusiastic and still formulating ideas. We need both in our lives. Above all, we need the Bible. The Lord knew how much we’d need his gentle words of love and encouragement for the hardest job in the world.

    Blessings on your parenting journey.