Selfish Mommy

You would think that being home all the time allows me to write whenever I want. But when the words start coming to me, I am usually curled up in the dark bedroom or caught without a free hand. This results in hastily adding notes to my phone when I can. Having a newborn is hard. 

I started this post last Saturday. As in, September 24th. I was excited because I had something to write about and I was writing and it felt superb. However, having a newborn means making tough decisions: do I sleep, or eat? Do I shower, or step out onto the balcony for a few minutes of fresh air? When you have to decide between vital things that make you sane (and alive), writing keeps getting pushed back. 

I didn't get it, this being a mom full-time thing. I never gave a thought to how tough it would be to simply have to feed her all the time. That breastfeeding means learning how to do six different things with your one free hand and surviving on what feels like no sleep and forgetting to eat because all you want to do is sleep.

And when the baby falls asleep on your chest and you cannot move, your feet become an amazing resource (I've used my feet to nab a notebook, pens, my water bottle, the remote...).

Mastitis happened this week, too, and that turned sleep into my number one priority (as if it wasn't before). I fed her, then tried to lay down whenever she did. Everything hurt. Which meant that even when she was asleep I sometimes couldn't fall asleep myself.

Then 2am would roll around, time to feed her again; and I end up hunched over her little body, trying to keep her awake enough to eat even as my own eyes are refusing to stay open. It was in these miserable seeming moments that I began to search for something. Anything. A distraction to keep me awake, a crumb of encouragement that would make me not want to sob.

In reality, I should have taken a deep breath and prayed. I should have picked up my Bible and let His words be enough. But I am stubborn. 

As it turns out, He met me in those mornings anyway. God's love is reckless and oh-so-relentless and He won't let me go. He used others to rescue me from the dark pit of fear and self-pity. And while He gets all the glory, I'd also like to thank the ones that He used. They both humbled and encouraged me during these dark, long mornings.

Firstly, there is this post. Jen over at Our Little Sweet Nest shined a piercing light of honesty into the darkness of my thoughts that morning. I needed to hear what she said. Why?

Because I have been an ugly mom.

I have cried because I am mad at my baby and it scares me.

I have sat like a zombie on the couch not knowing how to do anything normal anymore...and hating that fact about me.

Somehow, I have managed to allow myself to feel burdened in being alone while I parent. To get upset - even angry - when my daughter is hungry again and I just don't want to breastfeed her. To lose it because I'm tired and I know that I will basically be tired for the rest of my life. Because I am a mom now.

I have had so many ugly mom moments already...and I've only been a mom for three weeks.

I love that I can breastfeed and bond with my baby girl that way. It is a natural, beautiful, amazing thing. But because I am the only one who can feed my daughter, I have allowed myself to sometimes wish that "burden" away.

It's too much pressure.

I'm not really that good at it.

Why can't I have a break from it?

Why do I allow these thoughts to enter my head? I get to be Roxanne's mom, teach her everything, spend every day with her instead of going to work and leaving her with a nanny. I get to witness every coo and smile and flailing arm. Every peaceful sleeping face and every intense cry.

Jen reminded me that there will always be a stage that my daughter is going through. Always something good and something hard. That means that each phase has an end: a hope-light at the end of the tunnel. But that also means that that tunnel is a staging area for the next phase of life. A never-ending cycle, one that I should not waste any time trying to change.

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The second thing was this post.

Short, simple, to the point. Obvious, even. And yet just what I needed to hear:
"We need to take the time to start treating our loved ones and friends the way we treat strangers.  It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, get stuck in your routine and just assume things go without saying." ~ Lindsay Wride

You cannot assume. When quick words of anger and frustration are always around because you're tired and everything grates on your nerves, you cannot assume that those around you know you still love them. You cannot assume that they love you back - you need to hear it, or you feel like you may cave in a little

My mom visited me for a week, taking care of me while I take care of the baby. She washed my laundry, bought groceries, run errands, helped me find a pediatrician, made meals, held the baby while I ate and slept and showered, listened to my joys and woes, and changed countless diapers. There's nothing quite like a mom, is there? I hold my own daughter in my arms and realize that nothing else really matters anymore. And it is then that I begin to see how much my own mom must have sacrificed for me. Every. Single. Day. How anytime I speak poorly to her or push her away or forget to call her back I am hurting her mother's heart because no one but God can love me more. She has and continues to do so much for me - even when I am in Colorado and she is in Ohio. I can never thank her enough, can never return exactly the same love to her. But I can say that I know now, a little bit, what this mother's love must mean.

Have I thanked her? Yes. But I have also spoken to her harshly at times. I have made demands. I always had something else that I asked her to do, instead of simply sitting next to her on the couch, enjoying the sight of her playing with her granddaughter.

Then there is my husband. Out the door by 6:30 every single morning, he works hard all day doing manual labor so that I can be a stay-at-home mom. And then comes home and asks me what I need. He takes the baby in the middle of the night when I wake him crying because she just won't sleep. He changes her poopy diapers (she saves them till he gets home, haha). He plays with her while I get ready to breastfeed. Lets me watch my silly show he doesn't care about while we eat dinner. Never raises his voice when I become irrationally weepy or angry with him.

Have I thanked him? Some days. Others I am too self-involved, too sure that I am doing all that I can take and it's his turn for once. How incredibly selfish. It is my new goal to pray for him every day and vocalize my love and gratefulness so that I do not take this amazing man for granted.

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The third thing that got to me on this one particular morning was one of my good friends. She shared a few things that God had spoken clearly to her about while she'd been listening to a sermon. The things He told her were hard to hear. But she listened. And she accepted them for what they were. This woman has been my friend since I was smaller than a beanpole and I am constantly amazed at her passion for Jesus. No matter what she goes through, God just leaks out of her and touches everyone around her.

I immediately realized how little I have wanted to hear God's voice lately. I'm afraid of what He might say about my life. I have huge chunks of time in quiet darkness while breastfeeding that I could be in His word, in prayer, in podcasts...that I waste because I just want to "get through it" and go back to bed.

Simultaneously I saw that I have been utterly caught up in the physical lately. Sure, it might make sense, with a new baby that has specific and constant physical needs that I need to tend to, leaving me uncertain what my own physical needs are. But this is no excuse for ignoring the spiritual.

Anytime I am physically under pressure, I find myself being spiritually attacked in miniscule ways that I ignore. I start to drift into myself more. I try to do it all on my own - super adventure girl will keep stumbling until she falls. It's unhealthy and it puts extra  strain on the people trying to help me, when I could have saved us both stress and energy by letting them help me in the first place. Here's to accepting help and acknowledging that I can't do this on my own. I can't. I need God. I need people.

A few quotes from this time that have made me laugh in spite of it all:

"You're the best mom Roxy is ever going to have." ~my husband

"After all, Moses survived in a river in a basket for a period of time. I'm sure Roxanne can survive for an hour while you eat and watch a show." ~my older brother, Curtis

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