It seems to come so easily and instantly for other moms…the “warm and fuzzy” feelings.
I’ve heard other moms describe the feeling in the following ways:
“It’s like my heart jumped out of my body and started walking around.”
“The feeling I have for my child…I never knew I was capable of having so much love for another human being. It’s like nothing I’ve experienced before.”
“When I think about how much I love my child, I’m finally able to understand God’s great love for me.”
They all sound so…blissful. So motherly.
Let me give it to you straight: I just didn’t have it when my firstborn arrived. Of course, I loved my child. But it wasn’t this overwhelming, never-felt-like-this-before, I-love-you-so-much-I-can’t-stand-it kind of love. It was more like…I love you because you’re my child. God gave you to me as my child, and I am your mother. We are off to a really rough start. This was not what I expected at all. But we are in this for the long haul. Let’s keep learning and growing, together.
Far from all that’s said in a Hallmark card.
Feelings of guilt started to creep in…what is wrong with me? The other moms seem to have this natural affection instantly, but I don’t. Am I a bad mother?
I then had another daughter. This time we were off to a much better start, but I still didn’t get to experience all the warm and fuzzy maternal relationship with her (mainly because I was so overwhelmed with my strong-willed toddler).
I then had another daughter (yes, there is a theme). Another difficult start, another shattering of my expectations (I will write more on this later). This motherhood journey was going in the direction that’s opposite of what I was hoping for. It’s going from hard to harder. Again, the same questions arose, only this time more intensely. What is wrong with me? I must be a bad mother.
I then had a son (notice the change in theme). What do you know – I finally had it. All of it. The warm and fuzzy feelings. The instant, over-the-top affection. Everything all the other moms quoted and more. My heart was completely captured by this tiny creature. I didn’t want to blink my eyes and miss one moment. Three years later, I am still captivated by him. I love experiencing every new stage with him. I don’t think I could love him any more, yet as he grows older I love him more. It’s so natural and it’s just…there.
I believe there was a mixture of factors involved. Obviously, he’s a different gender. In my humanity, I think I naturally have a softer spot for the opposite sex. He’s also my last baby. Last time I had a newborn baby before him was five years prior (our third daughter came by way of adoption when she was 2), and as I already mentioned, I was overwhelmed with my firstborn toddler at the time. With my son, I was a seasoned mom, my girls were older, and I was actually able to relax and enjoy the baby stage. Instead of stressing about little things like I did with my first, I was able to just soak in the blessings.
Here’s what I learned from my contrasting experiences: The warm and fuzzy feelings don’t make you a good mom, and the lack of those feelings doesn’t make you a bad mom. It’s just dumb luck if you have it or you don’t (well, I know God’s hand is involved in all, but you know what I’m trying to say). And it can easily vary from one child to the other.
How do I know this? Because I was far from being a good mom when my son came. In fact, it was a season when I felt absolute worst as a mother. Then, in His infinite grace, God chose to bless me with these motherly feelings when my son came. I had zero part in it.
So I hope this encourages some moms who may be experiencing the disappointment (and the guilt) I felt with my first and third. Every motherhood journey is different (even with multiple children in the same family). With my girls, the affectionate feelings are building over time, brick by brick. With my son, it was instant. That’s just how God saw fit that it should go; I had no control. God has a unique design and purpose for every mother-child relationship. I have four very different relationships with my children, and each one is constantly evolving.
Back to my firstborn. Lately, we have the best conversations at night. They’re often very heartfelt and deep. Yesterday we had a rough interaction. We both did/said things to each other that we regretted. At night, we apologized to each other, and it was so real. We both knew it, we both felt it, and we both expressed it. It was a true soul connection. I love that. I’m able to appreciate it more, because our relationship took (and still takes) a lot of work. But it’s so worth it. She amazes me in so many ways. I don’t know anyone like her…and even though she often drives me crazy, I can’t wait to see all that God will unfold in her life. There are still thorns involved, but our relationship is starting to bud in a beautiful way. I have grown so much as a mom because of her…and we will continue to grow, together. And this shared growing experience…it’s something unique about our relationship that is not shared with the other children. No one can take this away from us.
God gives us emotions for many purposes – simply to enjoy, to grow closer to Him and one another, to cause us to act, etc. But love is never just about a feeling.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
–1 Corinthians 13:7
If it said, “Love is having the most affectionate feeling,” I definitely would have given myself a big fat “F” on the subject of loving my child.
But this – never giving up, never losing faith, being hopeful, and enduring through every circumstance – this, my love for them can do.