Thursday, April 22, 2010

Learning to Love: An candid look at my past month as a new mother.

I fell in love with a squirming 7 lbs 6oz of slimy wailing baby the second she was placed into my arms. A few hours later as night came and I was up alone with this new little stranger, I was suddenly acutely aware of the enormous responsibility that had descended upon my life. She was utterly dependent on me for everything. Warmth, nourishment, comfort, security... usually all at once every few minutes. Learning to nurse with her was an exciting task that night, but as the hours wore on and her fascinated little eyes continued to remain open, exhaustion of the past several days came crashing down. There in that hospital room I began to realize what loving a baby means.

5 weeks (nearly 35 days, or 840 hours, nearly 240 feedings and countless diapers) later, I am still learning what it means to love a baby. It starts with discovering the hopeless mess your character has gotten itself into. You are a ball of nerves, devoid of faith and patience clinging determinedly to the accustomed selfishness. Exhaustion intensifies this nasty soup of soggy tears. "Why wont this baby nurse right? She is so tired! Why won't she fall asleep? How miserable it is to hurt and ache and be subject to every whim of a person not two feet long." Gripe, sigh and focus on self. Fatigue and physical discomfort without the ability to relieve oneself adds additional charm to the tearfully frustrating time that you find yourself in often as a new parent at night.

I have realized that the majority of my struggles so far come from one wrong focus. The focus on myself, my time and my comfort. Spending 98% of every day focusing all of your effort, stamina and time on another person is exhausting. It is my selfishness that tells me that there is something undesirable about this situation. I am not patient with the innocence that struggles with learning how to be a baby in this huge new world. She fusses for hours trying to grapple with the conflicting needs that press her: hunger, fatigue, gas, a soggy bottom, and the confusion that results from all of these making themselves known at once.

I have discovered that I need to learn how to love. To love like Jesus does. Not the falling in love kind of love, but the love that decides to love. I am learning that this kind of love is not located anywhere inside of myself. I utterly lack the patience and compassion I need. But my Father said He would give it to me, and so slowly, and am being shown how.

Every night and most of the day, I must choose to put myself down and pick up my adorable and fussing "refining fire" and say "honey, take your time. Take as long as you need. I am here and I am not going anywhere." As I have prayed, sighed and occasionally shed frustrated tears at night, I am learning to breathe deep, and pick up patience along with my baby. I am learning to lay myself down as I lay her down and pat her back as she wakes up yet again. I am humbled every time I look at the perfection that my Father has given me. Humbled that He sees my utter lack of Him and says, "Lets work on this, dear. I am here and I am not going anywhere." As I once again fall into my selfish attitude, He lovingly picks me up, gives me strength, and keeps on loving.

Often, the tears change from tears of frustration, to tears of realization, then to tears of thankfulness and then tears of love. Those quiet moments, holding my baby, letting go of me, are gifts from God. I am learning to love.

"He must increase and I must decrease."
-John 3:30

"This is Love, not that we loved God, but that HE loved US."
-1John 4:10

1 comment:

  1. It is really true, and I find it is like that in not just with our children but with the people we marry and our familys as well. Our familys you can argue we dont have any choice but we still have to choose to love them or not. ohh this is becki by the way, my blog is The Life of a Nursing Student if you want to check it out


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