Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Falling Sometimes Takes Time

When I fall in love, it will be forever...
~~Nat King Cole

At the birth of my first child, when the nurses finally let me hold that precious little baby whose arrival I had so anticipated, I felt a rush. But not the rush one might expect from a new Mommy. Not the overwhelming and unconditional love that a Mommy is 'supposed' to feel upon meeting her child. No, for me, it was relief. Just the relief that he was here in the world and not in my belly. That I could watch his chest rise and fall. That I could check on him and see with my own eyes he was okay if I didn't hear him rather than the torture of waiting for the next appointment or kick because he was being 'quiet' in my belly. And awe. Who could look at a baby and not see the miracle of life that only God could create?

And that about summed it up. Relief and awe.

Day Two felt odd, and I chalked it up to just being tired after what I know now to be a hard birthing experience. Day Three still didn't seem right, and I knew, knew, at that point that there was something wrong with me.

I refused to think it 'out loud'. It had to float around at the back of my conscience because to give it real estate as an actual thought process would be admitting The Scary Truth to myself. And if I allowed myself to treat this truth as real knowledge, then I would have to confess this terrible thing to someone else. To expose myself to the scrutiny of someone else who was no doubt an excellent mother and would judge me until the day I died!

You see, I knew I wasn't in love with my baby. Oh, I loved him, but I didn't feel that all-encompassing infatuation that the mother of a new child was 'supposed' to feel. Everyone that I had met was given to droning on about their child and how wonderful they were and how great motherhood was.

Just thinking about it made me want to pull my hair out.

I wasn't feeling it. I dreaded having to face people on Sundays (the only time I got out) and pretend that this child was the coolest thing since sliced bread when I really didn't feel that way. In fact, even though I loved him, I was rather frustrated by him. Nights stretched out long and lonely, despite the help from Joshua. Days were nearly as bad until, finally, I got to go back to work.

And I harbored guilt about that, too. I felt as though work was an escape from the slow trip to the padded room that being home was for me.

What about those unbreakable bonds? Where were the apron-strings? Was this my cross to bear for being upset, feeling cheated even, when we first found out that, less than two months into marriage, we were expecting?

Then, one day, it vanished. I was fine. I was ready to accept this little baby as a part of my every-day-from-now-on-he's-mine-and-depends-on-me life. Suddenly, I was in love with him. Suddenly, he was wonderful. Suddenly, I was the one droning on about how wonderful life was!

And I was a bit surprised but completely ready to be in love again when we found out that Sarah Grace was on her way. After all, those feelings, or lack thereof, had to come from a place of selfishness, and now that I was past it, I was good to go, right?

Then it all came crashing down again when she was born. I knew it immediately. It tugged at my heart, causing a sense of panic. Again, I wasn't in love with my baby.

Oh, no! What if it is one of those things that you only have room to love one child that way? What if I never love this one the way I do the first one? Will she always be second fiddle, never understanding what it would be like to have all of her Momma's affections directed towards her? Could a child live that way? Certainly, one could not thrive with that kind of emotional detachment from her very own mother.

But it came. The day when I looked into her lovely eyes and realized that this one was my child, too. That she was wonderful and perfect in every way. Well, you know, perfect apart from that whole born with a sin nature thing. That was the day I fell in love with her.

By the time Elizabeth was born, I wasn't nearly as concerned. I knew that I just needed to give myself time. With Anna, I expected it. I all but threw a party for myself the day I realized I had finally arrived, and that The Scary Truth was behind me. And it really wasn't all that scary, now that I knew myself better and knew what to expect.

I have never been a love at first sight kind of gal. I have a hard time meeting new people, making friends. I have to get to really know a person first. It was kind of that way with my kids. I mean, I loved them from the moment I knew they were growing inside of me, but it took a little while with each of them before I was just head-over-heels in love with them.

Is it that way with all women? I have no idea. This is the first time I have admitted to anyone, other than myself, how shallow I felt those first few weeks of Mommy-hood. How terrified I was that 'this was it'. That I would be nothing more than a care-giver and never deserving of the title of Mommy.

Sure, people told me all kinds of things about motherhood. But they left so much out! The craziness of those sleepless nights, the feeling of slowly going insane, the need to just let someone else deal with the baby while you go out...guilt free! Ladies joked and rolled their eyes and laughed to make light of these situations. Girls, I am here to tell you that they are for real. Really, real for the real, real. Sometimes the need to gauge out my eyeballs or lop off my ears was overwhelming. Combine that with the fact that I didn't feel as though I was measuring up to the Love Standard, and I was nearly a crazy woman.

But, ya'll, I am there. I love those precious, sweet, funny, sometimes pesky kids inside, outside, sideways, backwards, forwards, up and down. I am 100% in love with each and every one of my kids. I know I will be in love with any others that the Lord blesses us with. I may not like them as much some moments as I do other moments, but I am in love with them.

And I'm gonna love them forever and ever, Amen!


HisTreasuredPossession said...

Girl, this is so.good. I think there are a lot of women who would say the same thing if they wouldn't feel condemned by those who are the opposite. (not even that the other would even think of seeming condemning...but still, hormones and all)

I was one so happy to have a baby but not a clue about being in love with one. I was in survival mode; how to do things "correctly" to feed, sleep, stimulate, etc. But as each has grown, I cannot imagine my life without them (except when sassing me with attitude. ;) ) My 3rd was unexpected timing and I took a LONG time to wrestle with "God's will be done." Now I see some of the blessing. But it's hard, embarrassing, and even a little humbling...

thanks for sharing your heart!

The Bouldins said...

I had the roughest time with Dax. His timing was a little earlier than our plan so I had to get over myself first and then I could embrace the blessing :)

Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae said...

Well said, friend. Love the honesty.

Anonymous said...

It is different and the same for most of us. During my first pregnancy, knowing my rotten temperment, that I would fail in every way. I may have lacked in parenting skills, but never in loving my kids.

MeesheMama said...

Yes. Yes.