when life doesn't look like the pictures

Saturday, June 29, 2013

baby #4, his first day home
I need to tell you something.

I have birthed four beautiful, healthy babies.   I have rested four minutes-old infants against my chest, marveled at their minute fingers wrapped around mine, kissed their tiny fuzzy heads.  I am so thankful for my tiny newborns, and the chance to mother each of them.

But I don't love babies.

I mean, I love my children deeply, but I don't love the baby days.  I look at the Anne Geddes style newborn portraits that are popular right now, and I think, how long did it take that mom to soothe her newborn to sleep before very tenderly placing him in a little gauze nest, and how many shots did the photographer snap before the baby screamed again?  Because those peaceful, adorably decorated newborns?  Only exist in frames.

Real babies are hard.

They push you further than you ever thought you could go - into making parenting decisions on less sleep than seems possible, eating whatever is on the counter just to keep moving,  digging in the laundry basket for a clean onesie in the middle of the night. Or sitting with a toddler in your lap, feeding the baby while staring at Nick Jr., and realizing this is the most interaction you've had with your other children all day.  The baby days are hard.

I read a blog post recently by a sweet acquaintance who just brought her second baby home.  She is up to her neck in real life right now, mothering a newborn and two-year-old every minute of every single day.  She was lamenting her sinfulness, that she could be so easily angered with her toddler, or that she would miss life before baby.  Commenters voiced their agreement, that sin keeps us from enjoying the early baby days fully.  

looking a little shell-shocked after bringing home baby #2
Here is the part I need to tell you:  weakness is not sin.

Wildly fluctuating hormones, sleep deprivation, the demands of sustaining another human being - for a little while, you are expected to do something practically impossible.  When you buckle under the weight, you don't owe God an apology.  God created our bodies, and He knows their limitations.  These are naturally difficult and vulnerable days, and God is so gentle with us during them.  You don't have to love the baby days to please God.  You don't even have to love the baby days to be a good mother.  You aren't doing anything wrong.  Physical and emotional weakness is not sin.

Your only spiritual task in those early days with your baby is to receive grace.  Just ... let it be.  Let go of the image in the portraits, and be free from the things you are "supposed" to feel right now.   The chaos is temporary, your other children will survive.  God is pleased with you, even during the baby days.

Receive grace, accepting seasons of chaos and weakness as a natural part of life.  When you do, something beautiful happens.  You will have grace to offer the rest of your home.  Grace for your screeching, uncertain toddler, whose life was just upended.  Grace for your spouse, who is as exhausted and overwhelmed as you are.  Even grace for your tiny newborn, so helpless and beautifully dependent on others.  When you are free to be weak, so are they.  

I don't love babies, but motherhood is a long road, and I love my children deeply.  Slowly, slowly, the baby days fall into a more familiar cadence.  The fog lifts, hormones subside, toddlers begin to understand their new roles.  By accepting weakness and grace early on, we move forward in grace, too.  We grow together, each finding our footing in our life with a new baby.  

Sometime around their first birthday, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my baby.  I begin to enjoy being a mom again.  I get to see each of them grow into this little person, discovering the whole world little by little and building relationships with their brothers and sister along the way. 

And that is more beautiful than any newborn portrait.  


  1. I'm not even sure how I stumbled onto this...but I have felt starved for the grace your writing emits and reflects. Thank you.

    1. Gosh I know that feeling! I was starved for grace for a long time. I'm SO glad you found it here!

  2. Beautifully put. Baby days are tough !



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