It’s very hard for me to communicate what it’s like to be a mother to my firstborn child (whom we affectionately call “Peanut”). She is so unique, and being her mother is unlike anything I’ve expected it to be. At the beginning, I would have said that it’s not a journey I would have chosen for myself. Now, after four years into the journey, I would not trade it for anything in the world. Here’s a summary of the roller-coaster adventures I have experienced with Peanut these last four years:
Surprise – The shock that came after Peanut’s birth was half my fault. I had dreamed of being a mother my whole life, but I never stopped to think of what it was actually going to be like. As an only child, I’ve been a “little adult” my whole life. I didn’t have much practice taking care of babies or children. I was used to so much freedom – doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, for as long as I wanted. I did not prepare myself nearly enough for how that world was about to change…drastically.
The other half of the shock was due to the fact that “easy going” was about the farthest phrase possible to describe my baby. God showed me from very early on that my ideal perspective of what it’s like to be a mother had to change dramatically.
Guilt – We struggled with breastfeeding for about a month. Even after it was finally mastered, my baby was very hard to please. I didn’t feel “connected” to her as I thought I should. I did not feel the instant affection that many other moms talked about. She didn’t seem particularly attached to me, and some days I didn’t feel particularly attached to her. With this realization came a large amount of guilt. What was wrong with me? I did not feel like someone whose dream had just come true. I felt more like someone who was daily trying to survive. As a toddler, she was very energetic and still hard to please. It was becoming very clear that she had a mind of her own and a strong determination. During both the baby and toddler stages, I welcomed any break I was able to receive from taking care of her. I relied heavily on the help of my supportive husband and mother. As if the feelings of guilt were not enough, I also felt very inadequate as a mother.
Battles – Ages two and three were filled with numerous battles. Her strong-willed nature manifested itself in full-force. Many of these battles involved heavy tears on both hers and my end. I constantly prayed for God’s wisdom. I often asked those closest to me to pray on my behalf (and I still do). There were many episodes, at home and in public, that made me think, “This cannot possibly be happening to me. I am not supposed to be that parent with an out-of-control child.” Once Peanut set her mind to something, she gave everything she had to fight for it. She had no reservation about taking a stand against me, and she also knew how to push my buttons. When her anger surpassed a certain level, there was very little I could do to calm her down or redirect her. Growing up, I was not used to being a part of any conflict, and at times her aggression scared me. I experienced more conflicts and oppositions with her in four years than I had in my whole life up to this point.
New Perspective – During these last four years, God has taught me so many lessons along the way. He taught me how to embrace life when it doesn’t turn out the way I pictured in my head. He taught me how to let go of guilt and insecurity, and instead trust in His process of molding me into the mother He has designed me to be. He taught me how to handle the tough battles with wisdom and calmness. Believe me, I’m far from where I can say I have “mastered” those lessons. I still struggle with disappointment, guilt, frustration, etc. But looking back, I can see that so much of my perspective has changed since four years ago. Instead of idealizing motherhood as a constant blissful season of life, I now see it as a huge opportunity to grow as a person. Instead of viewing my child’s strong-willed nature as an inconvenient trial, I now see it as an honor to be entrusted by God with this great responsibility of raising her. She challenges me everyday, and I continually discover the jewels hidden under her unique personality. She genuinely cares for others, especially when they are hurt. She is ultra sensitive; there’s so much depth to her thoughts and emotions. She is a natural leader; once she’s comfortable with the environment, she assumes the leadership role and takes charge (she just hasn’t learned to be tactful yet in her leadership). She is not afraid to stand up for what’s right, even if she has to go against the crowd. She loves to be helpful and get things done. She is extremely smart and pays attention to every detail. She has a great sense of humor. No two days are alike with her. She stretches me in every direction, but as I already said, I would not trade being her mother for any other role in the world. I’m so grateful for this new perspective God has developed in me during the last four years. My heart is full of excitement (instead of fear or doubt), as I think about the next fourteen years and beyond that I have with her.
This category of my blog is dedicated to my ongoing journey of raising my strong-willed child, Peanut. I will post some current adventures as well as my past adventures that I have written in my journals along the way…and how being her mother has taught me so much and helped me to grow as a person.