Guest post by Sarah Joy. I often joke about “guest posting” in the comment section of blogs, and finally found an excuse to turn someone else’s comment into a guest post! Thank you, Sarah Joy!
I was never supposed to have children. The doctors said so.
After being told this for many years, I retaliated with the thought that I didn’t want them anyway.
Then, one day, two lines appeared.
I found out I was pregnant in the midst of big deadlines at work at the bank. I didn’t even tell my husband I had bought the test. Why should I? It would be negative anyway.
I took it after work, still wearing my snappy navy dress suit and classic leather heels.
My expensive woolen executive armor didn’t shield me from the truth in the urine.
I shrieked in disbelief. I stormed out of the bathroom, waving the plastic encased stick it in the air as if it was a piece of overlooked contraband I had found, like a lacy pair of panties wedged between couch cushions. I wanted answers.
I was angry.
My husband, the bouncer-framed German-Italian, whose boys obviously can swim quite well, laughed in a way that patted me on the head.
“What am I going to do about this?” I said spitting mad.
“You’re going to have a baby…” he said confidently; matter-of-factly.
I realized I wasn’t angry. I was scared — for the first time in my life — of a baby.
My tough exterior broke and I threw myself into my husband’s strong arms. I cried until my black mascara smudged onto his gray t-shirt. He ran his fingers through my red hair, ignoring that it had been tied in a neat knot. I was an undone mess.
“…and I’m going to take care of you,” he whispered in my ear gently, holding me close.
Nothing could have prepared me for motherhood. I had plans on top of plans for my life, and they did not involve children.
God’s plans were bigger than mine, though.
Within a few short years, He gave me five children — more than the number of hands that my husband and I have combined. It takes a lot to humble a hard-ass soul like mine, but I was defeated by children.
Parenting is not easy. It challenges the heart in ways that cannot be fathomed. It is not what we expect or even what we think it will be. Books, videos, and even the testimonials of friends cannot prepare us for the change that takes place in us when we cross the bridge into motherhood.
When a child who is part of you becomes your world, and you realize that there is nothing you wouldn’t do for them, even give up your life for them, you cannot help but change. We change when things closest to our heart are at stake.
For me? Becoming a mother was one of the best things that ever happened to me. My children have taught me much about life, love, and about myself.
I am eternally thankful.
You can follow Sarah Joy on Twitter @mrsalbrecht
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Beautiful!! I love this so much.
I hope this post is of encouragement to women, especially those who are unexpectedly expecting.
Much love from Japan,
Sarah Joy Albrecht
What a beautiful post! I love it!
Awesome post! Thanks for sharing it!
Thank God for good husbands!
Sometimes I marvel at the one God picked out for me
Thanks for adding me on Twitter. I look forward to reading your tweets!
This is very touching. As someone whose mother was told to she could never have children – and then that she would never have a second after me – it is so encouraging to see someone else with the same news!
Aw! It’s a total reversal of the mind. Glad you’re here
Psalm 139 reminds us that it is not earthly doctors who determine our days or our formation, but the Great Physician.
Oh my goodness. What a beautiful post. I’m one of those people who thinks that I don’t want a baby…mostly because I’m scared, too. It requires change, surely…but this post makes me feel that a child should be thought of as a gift, instead of a burden or a scary thing.
It definitely helps to think of things as gifts — children, husbands, our beating hearts, etc.
When we look at ourselves as stewards of life and the things entrusted in our care, we have a mindset of strength.
There is no fear in love.
Rae, I have been following your posts on motherhood & expectations with interest. Reading through has caused me to try articulate (to myself, mostly) the changes in me since my own (somewhat unexpected) journey into motherhood. Although I had not ever thought that I was someone who was attached to their career plans/ideals, I had much the same reaction to my first surprise pregnancy as Sarah Joy.
When it became clear that my best–and really only–option would be to “stay home” with the new baby, it took me quite awhile to adjust to the idea. I had hoped to reconcile my (secular) feminist ideals with the vocation of marriage, and in some ways it worked and in some ways it didn’t. As Sarah Joy expressed, the dependence on one’s spouse is accentuated with pregnancy and that was hard for me to swallow–at first. And the dramatic change to one’s C.V., well…that’s also somewhat humbling, too. Mostly, though, the reality that what is best for one’s family might require personal sacrifices for a woman that are not required of a man–that was the toughest. No, this is not always, but sometimes it is.
In my case, the division of labor (domestic and professional) has followed the so-called “traditional” path, and it is something that my younger, unmarried self would have had a pretty difficult time coming to terms with. (my current one still has moments of teeth-gritting. hee hee.)
Mostly, when I think about my own expectations, happiness and disappointments, I am struck again by how parenthood–and perhaps specifically motherhood, although I don’t know—is a vocation of particular weakness. I mean that it is so very ordinary, and yet it involves so much daily heroism, and that it is entirely overwhelming and exhausting to the point where no single individual could ever perform at their best ALL the time, and that it causes you to want to be your best and also just curl into a tiny ball and hide…
Some of the weakness that are exposed are a result of failure or personal inadequacies, and others a natural part of living in a body that is so very limited. Infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, recovery–these are things that enrich women’s lives but that women rarely really control. And all the “issues” involved with those only begin to come to the surface once they have bound themselves to a man, because they only exist in relationship…
I guess one of the main things I have realized in my own journey of having to adjust my expectations of what motherhood/marriage would be like is this: I need to uncover the ROOT of my hopes and dreams. I am not alone in this, I know. It is not really that I thought I would have a career that now I may not have ( I am young and I may very well go back to school at some point). It is the sense of being wronged that I felt that first year of staying at home with an inconsolable infant that is what I need to address: why does that make me unhappy? Did I really need to be in school (and eventually have that job) to be happy or did I need parenthood to be easier so that I could feel more competent?
In short: what are the conditions on my happiness that I still hold on to? Given that life is full of small and big upsets, can I use them to uncover what my real priorities can and should be?
The truth is that when I examine my life’s goals–where I would like to be at the end of it, what I would hope to have learned– these are already being met now, although in a way completely different from the route I would have taken to achieve them. And this path is much harder because it is so boring, and so ordinary. Service to the most helpless and “poor” in society? Check. A chance to live each day contemplating the intersection of the divine and the human and meditating on the life of Christ? Right here. Learning about love and gift and selflessness and diving headlong into it, even though it exposes my deepest fears and inadequacies? It’s all here, if I choose to acknowledge it.
Thanks for the thought-provoking material, ladies.
_Thank you_ for taking the time to leave your comment!
To add to your thoughts –
Many women do not have husbands – literally, or because their husbands are not the sort that present even if they are in the same room :/ Let us reach out to our friends and neighbors who need a shoulder to lean upon
Just want to encourage you and other women who might be reading this that women need to support one another. Childbirth and parenting are selfless acts. Sadly, I find that it is women who tear down other women who do things differently (working women tearing down SAHMs and vice versa) (talked about it a little bit here in this video http://www.youtube.com/momswhomakeanddo#p/a/f/0/Izil2JiPRjI ) — not typically men tearing down mothers.
Maintaining hopes and dreams (realistic ones… most of us will never become real princesses! ) is an important part of motherhood…. womanhood… PERSONHOOD. I often talk to my friends about the importance of taking time to do creative things and to relax. We are of no use to our families and to our children if we are burned out. The same idea applies to being on an airplane — put your own oxygen mask on first. You’re no help to your child if you’re dead.
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great post and great comments!! Thanks Rae, Sarah and Claire
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