Becoming Mother

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

*Thank you so much for your heartfelt responses and emails. This post was hard for me to hit publish, as I knew it may not sit well with those who have yet to have their aching arms filled. Please know that I was very sensitive to your pain my friends, but felt very compelled to share. The responses I have been receiving really seem to indicate that it was God's will for me to share these thoughts to help those who are unsure of their future as a mother. Thank you again.

As a high school junior, I decided to get serious about my future. Putting pen to paper, I jotted out my life plan. It seemed lofty at the time and I thought about it often. It went something like this:

1). Maintain an above 4.0 gpa [Honors and AP courses allowed this] [accomplished]
2). Receive All-Conference [honorable mention]
3). Be named captain. [not in high school, but college]
4). Receive a soccer and academic scholarship. [accomplished]
5). Play college soccer. [all 4 years, even after tearing my ACL my sophomore year]

And that was my life plan. I kid you not. It wasn't a 5 year plan, it was my life plan. And no where in there did I include marriage or being a mother.

That second one might sting for some of you. Especially those who know just how serious I am. And for that I apologize. Those of you who've only been reading since Isaac's arrival, or even Ezra's for that matter, might be shocked, because you've only known me as a mother.

I can say with certainty that Tony was more excited than I was when we found out I was pregnant. That's not to say I wasn't, but he was ready. He had been waiting. He was the one who had been fighting back baby fever. 

It wasn't that I didn't want to give up my freedom. Or relinquish my selfish ways, because really, no one is prepared for the selflessness required to be a great parent, including me, now. But I, honest to goodness, didn't have that overwhelming desire to be a mother.

See, I didn't particularly care for children.

I wasn't the girl who flocked to infants.

Being that my Mom did daycare, I cringed to arrive home to find out that a daycare parent had requested I babysit for them . . . and my Mom had already agreed.

Our wedding was quite large, what with my mother-in-law's 12 siblings and my parents both being remarried, but we opted for a childfree reception. We passed on a flower girl and ring bearer as well. They usually just ended up being annoying and no way was I going to be upstaged by a little kid being fussy during the ceremony! [ah to be 21 again]

I once went to the bathroom in order to avoid a coworker bringing in his newborn with his wife. With all my being I wanted to skirt the awkward fawning over a child I felt no attachment towards.

So when I say that I didn't like children, I mean that in pretty much the strongest possible way.

This is why I believe God's divinity can be viewed through the transformation that occurs during pregnancy. In all ways, He knows what is best for us, His children. Pregnancy can be long and hard and difficult. Those 9 months take an established person and mold her into a mother. Those 9 months broke me down into a person who came together in very different shape, both figuratively and literally. [please do not take this as a slight for those dealing with IF or have endured or are enduring the long wait via adoption, a mother's heart is shaped through many routes]

When I wrote that I had "no words" when Isaac was born, it was because I was utterly shell shocked to my core. I had not been prepared for the life altering change. And I'm not talking about the diaper changes, responsibility or sleepless nights.

I hadn't prepared for the love.

I felt purposeful.

I abandoned myself to the role of mother.

I willingly lost myself, akin to changing my last name, because I felt like it was a trade up.

Becoming a mother, has made me a better person, without a doubt.

Tony has a repeat thought in moments like this that he shares with me:

He'll say "This is exactly how I envisioned my life."

But for me, it's more than I ever allowed myself to think of.

Are you living the life you hoped for? Or did you even allow yourself to dream?

ps :: all photos credit Gina Zeidler


Bethany said...

Oh Leah, this speaks directly to my heart. I actually loathed children when I was younger. I HATED to babysit and even had to walk out of a "Cheaper by the Dozen" because the amount of chaotic kids that it involved.

Than, the twins were born and something just snapped into place. & even 1000 times more when I became pregnant.

You hit the nail right on the head, God knows what is best for us. & for me, I am so glad now that my dreams involve 3 beautiful girls.

Thank you for sharing your heart.

Tess Weber-Popejoy said...

Wow. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. This is exactly how I felt before Asher. Kids just weren't my thing. We hadn't planned on having kids for several more years but then I had a pregnancy scare and when I found out I wasn't actually pregnant I was disappointed....

Amazing how things work out.

Chris | Team Sea-Squared said...

You wrote this post for me, right? I have never been a "kid person." I, like you, have never flocked to infants. Babies and kids are something I never thought I wanted any part of. That was until I found I we were expecting and then sadly miscarried in October. I never thought I wanted kids until our baby was taken from us. Since then everything has changed. I made it my mission to get pregant again right away and now I cannot wait to become a mother in August! Thank you for this post. It made even more excited for the adventure of motherhood ahead.

Amy said...

great post! It's amazing what being a mom can do to your life. That 'are you where you want to be in life' question gets thrown out all the time. I look at Brady and I think, yep, exactly. Nothing prepares you for motherhood. I was the opposite and loved kids, baby sat, nannied, taught preschool. NOthing could ever have prepared me or coudl have put into words the love that comes with being a mother. Nothing. It's the best thing.

Bekah said...

I thought for sure I would be the one traveling the world, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I could be this much in love with my two sweet boys. I never thought it would be like is SO much better than my little brain could have imagined

Molly said...

Yes, I feel exactly the same way, Leah. I was not prepared for the love at all. It shocked me to my core and I've never been the same person since. In fact, I would be so bold to say that I was not a Christian when I gave birth. But I became one within moments of Landon's birth. Becoming a mother made me believe again.

Bree said...

I actually relate in so many ways. I wrote in a similar notion in my pregnancy announcement post on my blog.

My husband has always been the one who has had no doubts about having a family. Even when I asked if he ever wondered what it would be like just the two of us...he said he never even considered it. We dove in head first into starting a family last summer and were doubly blessed. I am still apprehensive as I sit here with mere weeks to go, but I am reassured that the love I will feel when I meet my son and daughter will be life changing.

I also have faith in and trust my husbands unwavering stance on having kids :)

Noe said...

What an amazing post,Honest to God,I understand your point in so many ways, that if you asked me just two years ago if I was ready to be a mother, probably my answer would have been "No Way" as I was building a career and hoping to become one of those very succesful women in the corporate world. until I resigned one day and never looked back.
Now? I am so ready for it. You have no idea!... Baby fever has been kicking my b.. for a few months already.
But God's timing is always wise.
Thank You for sharing this beautiful post.

Adrienne said...

WHAT an awesome post. You're so right, God does have a perfect way of changing hearts and molding lives.

Julia Goolia said...

beautiful post, Leah. You've just grown up and love the life God's given you. Love to see that happen. :)

Kier said...

And to think it was me with the plan to have three kids before I was 30. To give up my 1st major and life dream to become a doctor because it wasn't suitable to family life. Ha.

Now at 29, who knows if I will have kids - to give up my freedom, my ability to travel, to run whenever I want, to work however much I want, to do what I want when I want, - yes, I am still very selfish. And that future, my current reality, seems just fine to me.

Although, if we decide to have what I am sure will be beautiful children, I am sure that future will be just fine (and maybe even more than fine) to me. Some days I long for and dream of a relationship like I have with my mom with a daughter of my own. Some days I dream of travelling the world with my own kids. I dream of future siblings meeting up with each other on Christmas Eve in Paris - like I've been able to do with Ike and Maddie.

Oh look Leah, making everyone become so philosophical on a Tuesday afternoon. Let's bookmark this post and come back to it in 5 years.

Meredith said...

This is so weird...I was just thinking about this last night as I was laying in bed. And I *so* relate to most of this--I cried when I found out I was pregnant with Lizzy, and not happy tears! On the other hand, Justin would have been THRILLED to have a baby years before.

I am always amazed and humbled with the life God has planned for me--it is *so* much better than anything I'd planned for myself.

Ginger said...

Beautiful post Leah and your write a mother's heart is molded and shaped.

Anonymous said...

I was so far opposite you, we would have been on different planets. I LOVED babysitting, I worked at an ECFE center for about 5 years, I volunteered in the nursery at Church & I spent my weekends babysitting and I couldn't have been happier.

With that being said, I always knew that I wanted kids. I'd think about what I'd be like as a Mother and I knew I'd cherish every moment. I wanted to be done having kids by age 30 (three kids, preferrably).

I'll be 27 in October and I've never even so much as had a positive pregnancy test.

It's hard but I know that I need to trust that God has a plan.

Rose said...

I love this.

Rebecca said...

I relate to this SO much. I really can't see myself having kids, but everyone tells me that when I meet the right person that I'll change my mind. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Michelle said...

I just became a mother almost 2 weeks ago to a beautiful baby boy. I wanted him so much. I am 35 and had feared this wouldn't happen for me. My life- none of it- has turned out like I planned.

I think it is such a beautiful statement from your husband to tell you this is exactly how he envisioned his life. How fortunate to feel that way.

I love your commentary on mothering and your photography. Yours is a favorite blog of mine. Your posts often inspire me to think about things in a different way or appreciate the moment more and they have definitely made me feel less nervous about being a mother to a son. I would have never guessed you didn't like kids before you had them. So interesting! You are clearly a wonderful mother and it's been quite a transformation! Thank you for sharing, as always.

Erin said...

I'm late to comment (tough to write a lot from an iPhone, and my computer time is limited right now!) but I just wanted to say I can definitely relate, as you may have guessed :) As I've said on my blog many times, I really don't like children, but I LOVE my own and am often surprised just how much - it really does feel like I'm in the giddy new stage of first dating someone every single time I see them and I had NO idea it would be like that. When I was in high school, I too proclaimed I may not ever have children. I remember my mom crying about that one :) So glad I changed my mind! THank you for posting this.

Karen said...

Thanks again Leah for another great and heart felt post. I too had no desire to have children. I even wrote a note to my mother when I was a child that said "I was never going to have kids". She saved that note in the cedar chest.

When I found out we were expecting in August 2008, it wasn't happiness. Even though we weren't not avoiding I definitely wasn't prepared for the 2 lines. I even swore when I took the test alone.

But having said that my little boy Caleb who will be 3 at the end of April is the best thing that has happened in my life. Granted he is strong willed and can be a very determined kid I love him more than anything and would trade him for nothing.

Julie S. said...

Oh, Leah, I have tears in my eyes. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Always. But nothing, nothing can prepare you for what motherhood really is. Not the sleepless nights, the diaper changes, the marriage changes, and the LOVE. The crazy amount of love. Nothing is the same. I can't watch certain things on TV like Dateline or shows with missing kids anymore. Hurts too much to think about that happening to my babies. My entire outlook was changed. It's incredible.


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