This being the week leading up to Mother’s Day, I decided to spend it focusing on the mothers in my life. I only have one that I call my own, but there are several other mothers who matter to me. Today’s letter is to my daughter, as she prepares to give birth to her first baby–a daughter–later this month.
Some people will tell you that motherhood is like frolicking in a field of wildflowers. They’ll only speak aloud of the days that are warmed by the sun and carry with them the lasting fragrance of lilacs. Others will take a different approach, offering a perspective from the muddy trenches. It’ll be all sleep deprived, chock full of diapers that explode and vomit on your favorite shirt. Still others will paint for you a picture not of either extreme but of urgency. Enjoy every second because it’ll all pass in the blink of an eye. Who am I to contradict any one of them? All of it is true–in doses.
I want to paint for you a portrait of the motherhood I know. It’s like taking a train trip. You hold a golden ticket for the first class car. As you board and find your seat there is nothing but excitement-eager anticipation for all that is to come. The rush of steam from the engine and the train’s whistle leave you on the edge of your seat. And then, finally, the train pulls away from the station with a slow chug, a labored push to start the journey. You look out the glass panels and see the most beautiful countryside creeping by–sights that even in your wildest dreams you never fathomed. It’s exhilarating and terrifying all at once because quite suddenly you realize that you’re merely a passenger. You can no more control where the train goes than you can hold the stars in your hands. There’s no going back, though; you’re all in. Somewhere along the way the train gains momentum and when you look out the window again it’s impossible to tell one thing from the next–a cottage or a church steeple or a bicycle–all of it whirs past in a blur. It goes on like that for miles but every so often the train pulls into station. Some will leave you wanting to get off and explore a bit while there will be others you can’t pull away from quickly enough. You settle in and you learn to anticipate the bumps, but still you never can quite steady your footing on so fast a moving train. There’s always a twist in the tracks when least you expect it. Eventually you get there: where you set out to go all along. And only then does it occur to you that you missed some sights along the way. There is some regret in considering what slipped by unnoticed. But moreover there is quiet contentment because all in all, it was such a beautiful ride.
I guess the train ride metaphor is somewhat misleading because it implies that there comes an end to motherhood when in fact there is no end. When I no longer walk this Earth will you suddenly forget me? No. Motherhood continues.
Here are some other things I’ve learned about it:
- Sometimes it’s hard to be a mom, but never once have I wished I wasn’t one.
- There are very few absolute rights, but plenty of absolute wrongs. Go with your gut.
- Get to know your Creator. You’re going to need Him.
- You’ll do and you’ll say things you regret, but if you’re giving her your best, she’ll appreciate it someday.
It won’t be long now until you’re holding that babe in your arms and your entire universe tilt-shifts towards her. I know it will because mine did towards you on the day you first lived outside of me. There is incredible power in becoming a mom. She will quiet at the sound of your voice–in the curve of your arm. She will suckle and you will sustain. She will need you like nobody has ever needed you. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting. It’s worth every second.
Over these next few weeks, I hope you’ll fondly consider the fact that you come from a long line of first daughters. I pray that you will seek and find what the first daughters in our family before you have sought and found: the One True God. There is never anything beyond Him but especially when you are mothering.
Call me whenever. Call me when she won’t stop crying–or when you can’t. Call me when she first smiles on purpose. Call me when it hits: the awe of being somebody’s mom. Call me because you matter to me and she matters to me and even if I’m busy when the phone rings I always want to hear from you.
I can’t put an age to it, but I remember at some point feeling as though I’d learned it all. I was at least waist-deep in motherhood before I learned how much I had left to learn. I don’t know where you’re at but I think it would be beneficial to you if you accepted right here and now that there is a lifetime of lessons ahead. Motherhood stretches you and opens your eyes to crazy truths and questions without definitive answers. Posture yourself accordingly.
I have a pretty good hunch of who you are, and of the kind of mom you are going to be. For what it’s worth, you’ve got this. I know you do.
I was never whole until I became a mom.
I pray that when Charlie Rae comes along, you’ll know what I mean.