Today Lisa-Jo’s book, “Surprised by Motherhood,” releases! To celebrate the release, a bunch of bloggers are writing about how we were surprised by motherhood. This is my contribution to the celebration.
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Motherhood always comes with surprises whether you are expecting them or not. Surprises came for me even though I had been preparing for motherhood all my life.
My sister was born when I was 7 years old. I started helping out a mom down the street when I was 10. By the age of 12 I was babysitting, and it wasn’t long before I had regular babysitting jobs 10 hours every week. I worked at summer camps as a teenager and in my early twenties. Throughout the school year, in both high school and college, I was involved in various children’s ministries.
By the time I was 18 I had been peed on and vomited on. I had cleaned up poop, blood, and other bodily fluids. I had caught the baby who tried to nosedive off of a changing table. I had cared for children overnight on numerous occasions. I had taken care of children with fevers and sprained ankles. I had worked with children with Down Syndrome and children with autism. I had cared for children from 2 weeks old to 17 years old. I had been yelled at. I had been a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. I had taught and loved children well. I was very comfortable with children and knew that I wanted to be a mom with a large family someday. I didn’t think motherhood would surprise me very much. I was wrong.
Will and I were married in December of 2002, and in the spring of 2003 I had my first miscarriage. This was not what I had prepared for. I never thought I would be the mom who would lose a baby. By the time two more years went by, I had lost multiple babies. This was a surprise. This was not the motherhood I had prepared for. I didn’t know if I would ever be able to carry a baby to term. I was the quiet mother on Mother’s Day who grieved with empty arms and an aching heart.
In the spring of 2005 I was pregnant again. I made it past 8 weeks…10 weeks…12 weeks…. Now this was a surprise! I made it all the way to 41 weeks and 3 days! Then our precious 9 ½ pound William came into the world. What a joy to hold my own child in my arms. He was a true gift from above. I thought he might be the only child I would hold in my arms, but four years later God blessed us with the precious gift of Adelaide.
I am grateful to have two beautiful children to hold, children who were hoped for by us and planned by God. William and Adelaide are my little friends and an absolute joy to be with. And in a way I even have the big family I had always dreamed of. It’s just that half of my family is in Heaven. I look forward to meeting my other children someday.
Even with two children now in my arms, motherhood is so different than I had expected. I’m not the healthy, active, and busy mom I had hoped to be. I am the home-bound and very quiet mom who cannot care for her children the way she wishes she could. It is hard. I have had to learn to let go of the dreams and desires I had and embrace the life that God has given me.
I have had to learn a lot about being a mother with a disability. It has been challenging! I had to learn to care for an infant while lying down in bed. I had to learn to let my three year old care for me. I had to change my plans for making Christmas cookies with my children. I had to learn to make it through not just the good days, but the bad days too, while caring for a child. I have had to learn to trust others to care for my children when I am unable to do so.
When I was pregnant with William I worried that he wouldn’t like me when he grew up and realized that I wasn’t like other moms and couldn’t do many activities with him. But you know what? William and Adelaide love me just the way I am. There has never been even a hint of resentment on their part. They adore me, and they absolutely love being with me, even if it is just talking and snuggling together in bed. They are sad when they can’t be with me or when I can’t go places with them, but it does not change their affection for me at all.
There are good things that come for William and Adelaide as a result of having a mom who is chronically ill. I can see that God is teaching them patience and compassion through my illness. He is teaching them to love and serve others well. These are valuable lessons that help to grow them in maturity and prepare them for future service to God and others.
Motherhood has not turned out the way I had hoped or the way I would have planned it. It has been full of surprises. Though different than I thought it would be, it is wonderful. This is the life God has called me to as a mother, and I am grateful for it. I am thankful that God is sovereign over all these things. He has a plan and a purpose for my motherhood. I pray that I will be faithful to serve Him well in this role so that He may be glorified.
Photo Credit for the first two photos: Lisa-Jo Baker. Used with permission.