I remember back to having my first son, and what strikes me now is how much more peaceful I was when I had my second. I have spent countless hours and days thinking about why this is. Yes, I’m more experienced. Yes, my second is a bit of a dream baby who rarely fusses and is usually smiling. (That was not my first experience, let’s just leave it at that.) And, yes, I am already used to managing a million things at once. Those could be considered factors, but it is something else. It isn’t that my life is in a better place this time around, because quite frankly, a lot of the things that were stressors then continue to be present in my life now. Some things are even more challenging. So why, with two little boys, am I so much more at peace then I was when I had one?
First, God has been doing a huge work in me and has led to me authors that have spoken to my mother’s heart and inspired and encouraged me more than I can say with words. Let’s just say there have been a lot of tears and reflection, praying and meditating. If I could sit and look at Sally Clarkson, for example, and tell her how much she has influenced the way I mother my boys, I may just end up a blubbering mess. I am thankful. I adore that woman and could just sit there reading and soaking up her wisdom non-stop. What a blessing she is to the mommies of the world! Growth. Maturity. Wisdom. Those are gifts God has given me in this season when I so desperately needed it. She was the main vehicle, besides the Bible, that delivered it.
Secondly, and this is the biggest one for me because it encompasses everything. I SURRENDERED. With my first, I was trying so hard to hold on to some form of my pre-baby life, just to feel like ME. Because “ME” was missing! I lost “me” in that first year with a baby, and I just wanted to get my footing. I needed to have something of what I was before to ground me where I was because I was seriously floundering. I went from working to staying home with a little fussy person who needed from me constantly. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and I rejected the idea on a certain level that my lifestyle had to change. I was trying to fit the baby around my life. I was miserable from the effort, and then felt horribly guilty for not thinking every single moment with my new baby was bliss. Being a new mom was not as easy and soul-filling as I expected it to be, and that reality hit me like a gale force wind. Talk about unprepared.
Fast forward to my second pregnancy, and as I was preparing for the delivery, I spent a lot of time talking to my doula friend about the process and how I wanted things to be different from the first time. She said something I will never forget. She said, “When you think you cannot handle it for one more second, literally say, or sing if you have to, the old hymn I Surrender All. Then do it. Fully surrender to the pain and know that you will survive. It hurts more when you are fighting the pain, so release that.” At the time, I thought that was great advice to think of while laboring. It wasn’t until I was trying to get my crying 3.5 year old down for a nap while holding my crying 1 week old when everything came into crystal clear focus. Instead of panicking, stressing, and just crying myself, God blessed me with an overwhelming sense of calm, and He brought her words back to me. I simply thought, “I can do this. Breathe. Figure it out. Lord, help me. I surrender all.” Once I got them both down, I just kept thinking about those words. They rolled around in my mind for weeks until they just manifested themselves there as my mothering motto. If I let go of my selfishness, and if I let go of my how it should be mentality, and instead, just move with the rhythms of the day – interruptions, blow out diapers, tantrums, colds – whatever comes my way – ALL of it, I find the previously de-railing elements to be annoyances – yes, but manageable. Instead of snapping at my 4 year old because he is taking so long to get out the door, I just know it is going to take me 15 minutes longer than I want it to. That’s okay. My pre-baby self wants to grab my keys and purse and go. My surrendered self knows that my firstborn is going to want to put on his own shoes, and that he’ll remember a couple of toys he wants to take as I am already heading out the door, and that he will have to go potty again, etc…Any annoyance I have at the time that this takes just means I didn’t plan accordingly, and it is not my sweet boy’s fault. Here’s another thing: I don’t need to manage everything. I surrender all. Messes will be made, dinner may be late sometimes, and bedtime may not run like clockwork every night, and that is TOTALLY OKAY. I don’t need to keep everything in boxes. What child wants to live that way? Life requires that we color outside of the lines if we are to truly engage, explore, and create. To totally surrender, is also to just BE. To REALLY live, EVERY day, ALL in…regardless of what comes your way? That is a picture of the life I’m trying to create. Surrendering control for this control freak can only be accomplished by the working of the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful for a God who doesn’t give up on us or grow weary of waiting while we learn, stretch, fail, and ultimately grow.
I want to feel that peaceful spirit, that deep-rooted joy every single day – and live my life fully surrendered.