Motherhood is sneaky. It gets crazier and more challenging by the hour, yet exponentially rewarding as it dominates life with no warning. Even in those early hours of becoming a mother, when my baby was still under the supervision of doctors and nurses; when the congratulatory balloons in the corner haven't lost their deflation, and neither had my belly, the idea of becoming a mother was still comforted by the ideal that "my maternal nature is sure to kick in now".
The early days of motherhood are sacred. This new creature overwhelmed my mind, body, and spirit, and what was a concept growing inside my body mere moments ago suddenly became a tangible expression of unconditional love. The idea of this agape started as soon as that pregnancy test first glowed with positivity, yet it wasn't until actually holding the person that embodied this ideal that made me first step back and gasp at my arrogance: How could I have ever possibly thought I knew how to do this?
The only thing that can prepare you for being a mother is having a child.
Now, it's been a little over four years since I first held my eldest daughter in my arms, and I continue to look at both my girls with giddiness and fear. These are MY children? How do I do this? Motherhood does not come naturally, no matter your background, training, experience, or expectation. It boggles my mind every single day.
There's nothing natural about putting my body through excruciating aches and pains to deliver a new person into the world. There's nothing natural about getting up in the middle of the night a dozen times to feed, change, or just want to stare at this little human. There's nothing natural about worrying irrationally about new fears I never even knew I had simply because my new responsibility to another can be too much to bear.
There's nothing natural about craft parties at 5 in the morning, about watching Curious George on my cell phone in the middle of a grocery store, about owning 14 tutus and 8 princess dresses (estimate), about getting irrationally angry and punching the wall because I stepped on another lego and just about broke my neck. There's nothing natural about washing sippy cups, carrying crayons at the bottom of my purse at all times, or making up songs about poop.
There's nothing natural about getting screamed in the face, thrown-up on, snuggled to a suffocating degree, and then wanting to be around this same person with a nearly unhealthy compulsion to kiss her cheeks right off her little face.
There's nothing natural about wanting to meet the needs of someone who literally follows behind my every step deconstructing and destroying the efforts of housekeeping, laundering, cooking, or cleaning that I exhaustedly repeat with no end.
And most of all, there is nothing natural about willingly, uncomfortably, growing and changing into a more selfless person each and every day. But, that's the mystery and beauty of motherhood.
Motherhood makes no sense. It's a perfect reflection of God's magical, perfect, insanely irrational love for us. There is nothing natural about it, because every maternal instinct I have in me - to love, care, and give beyond myself - is absolutely the love of Jesus seeping through my body out into the open world.
I mess it up all the time. I yell at my kids, I keep them in time out too long, I feed them pita chips and fruit snacks for breakfast, I strap them in their car seats and take them for a drive cause I am too frustrated to want to chase them around the house or peel them off the walls one more time. And, each and every time I am reminded how ridiculously wonderful and scary it is that I'm given the opportunity to be Jesus to these little humans. I'm so grateful to worship a God who gave us His Son and His Word to turn to when I feel so out of my element.
There are so many incredible aspects and gifts that come out of motherhood. When I see my girls giggling or sharing or singing, I'm glimpsing at bits of heaven here on earth. But, one of the greatest parts of motherhood I never saw coming: laying down my ideals for what I thought would come so naturally, and accepting the amazing truth that what comes unnaturally is so, so much better.