You know that first appointment, when you’re almost sure you’re pregnant, when you say this to the doctor and they test you and show you that yes, you are in fact pregnant. They let you listen to the heartbeat (it can’t be your heartbeat because it’s coming from your belly) and they show you a little peanut on a tiny screen (that’s not a peanut!)
At my very first “I think I’m pregnant” appointment, I was already nervous. I knew pregnancy was a possibility because my husband and I had stopped preventing it a few months earlier. Still, I was thrown into it. “How exciting!” people would say to me, but I didn’t understand. “I’m supposed to be excited?”
I was told I was eight weeks along. You’ve got to be kidding, I thought. There’s been a baby inside me for two months?
Well thankfully the initial shock wore off and I was pretty even-tempered until right after our co-ed baby shower, when our dining room was suddenly taken over by millions of bags and boxes filled with soft, plush, pastel-colored things. People are so generous. We are truly blessed to have received so much support.
But my husband had to leave in the middle of our baby shower for an out-of-state funeral, so I was left alone with all our new stuff and no baby yet to make it useful. My mom and my sister were visiting and were so helpful, but I still suddenly felt like shutting all the curtains and shouting, “OMG!” like I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t even get all my words out. Does every first-time mother feel like this? I mean, it’s scary right?
Carrying life? Are we allowed to do that?
Then this came the next day, spoken at church where all the best things are: “I will never leave you or forsake you says the Lord almighty.” It’s in Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5, and Hebrews 13:5. That’s how you know it’s serious.
I thought, “Oh yeah! I’m never alone. God will never leave me. He will never forsake me. Not ever! Not even while I’m alone in my house with a bunch of new baby things reminding me that I’m going to have a baby soon and I have no clue how to care for it.”
I went home and painted this and hung it in the nursery:
I love to paint but I am not very good at it. Still, this is the most treasured thing in my boys’ room; though they never ask me about it and only seem to notice it when they knock it off the wall and have to ask me to hang it back up. But it stays there, a reminder that God is always and forever. He will never leave.
Now, I’m five years into motherhood. It seems like I’ve been a mom forever. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. As mothers, we are with our children more than we’re not. We think about them every moment of every day. After five years of that, we feel like it’s been forever because we can’t remember another life.
After five years, we’ve lost count of all the diapers, all the tears, all the nights of interrupted sleep. We might sometimes get frazzled. We might sometimes lose our minds. We might forget about those words in Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Hebrews.
I know I do.
I realized the other day that I am a way better mom when my husband is home. I don’t react so quickly. I don’t get so frustrated or emotional. He carries the weight with me. He always does, even when he’s not at home, but something happens every time he leaves. When I’m the only one around, I feel alone. I feel like I’ve been left, like I have to carry all three children on my back while dragging buckets of water in case one of them (or more likely, I) gets thirsty.
But I am not alone. And the necessary fluctuation of my husband’s presence shouldn’t affect my ability to mother. My husband is only a man. He is a good man, the best man, more than I could have asked for or imagined in a husband. But he is still just a man, and he cannot be present at every moment.
You know who can?
God. The Almighty Lord. The Best Father. He is my designer and my creator and the designer and creator of my children, and he is always available. He will never leave me or forsake me.
When my husband and I drove our very first newborn home from the hospital, we were beyond nervous. We had pretty much settled the fact that we were parents. But then we were driving our baby around on busy, icy highways. What!?? We decided right there in our little VW Golf, to say, “God, this is your kid. Thank you for giving him to us. Now, we give him back to you. We dedicate him to you because we can’t possibly know how to raise him. We can’t possibly know what he needs, without your help.”
God is our author and our children’s author, the author of creation itself. So even today, when our minds turn frazzled and all we want to do is scream (and sometimes we do, then we regret it), let us remember that we are not doing this alone, and it’s our own fault if we feel like we are.
Because God never leaves.
Let’s look for Him. I bet, once we open our eyes, we’ll see that He’s right there and He has all the answers. I bet He even has all the buckets of water we could ever need. So I can probably put those down and free up my arms for loving.