We were all melting in the heat. My husband, me, and the little bundle of joy we brought home from the hospital a few days earlier, were all stripped down to our lightest clothing. We sat on our sofa in the coolest possible way. Not swagger ‘cool,’ but air-circulating-to-every-inch-of-skin, ‘cool.’ It was an uncharacteristically hot week for Seattle—record highs coincided with the birth of our first child. Like everyone else in Seattle, we didn’t have AC, or any of the other gear that might make the summer heat more bearable. We just sat there, ice water in hand, all the windows open with our one little fan pointed into the center of the room.
Wearing a thin white onesie and diaper, our new babe slept on her daddy’s chest, cheek pressed against his matching thin, white t-shirt. Her pouty, irresistible lips melted my heart from across the room.
Those first days were a blur of broken sleep, lots of tears (the baby’s and mine), learning the ropes of breastfeeding, diapering, soothing, and bathing. I’d read numerous books about pregnancy and birth, but not many about what comes after a baby arrives, and although I felt incredibly blessed to have a newborn daughter, I knew I was woefully short on the skills I would need to raise her.
It was a trial-by-fire situation. I was the first person in my friend group to get married (just a month after my college graduation ceremony), the first to have a baby (two days after our first anniversary), and the first of anyone I knew personally to stumble into the realm of parenthood. As the token guinea pig, I had no clue what was in store for me.
The first time I laid eyes on the little lass, I was smitten. I remember honestly wondering if they were going to let us leave the hospital with her. Surely, if they knew how little experience I had caring for babies, they’d hand me a manual or put me through a class before turning me loose as her primary caregiver…but no. They just confirmed we were able to properly strap her into an infant car seat and then sent us off with her.
My husband and I were on our own.
I’m really grateful there were no cameras around to capture my ungraceful baptism into motherhood. How badly I floundered through figuring out sleeping and feeding schedules! How many tantrums I, myself, had in the wee hours of the morning when my child was wide awake again when all I wanted was to sleep! How many years it took me to figure out how to consistently leave the house with both diapers and wipes in my bag!
She was about 8 months old when we went for a stroll at the mall. Suddenly, a familiar smell wafted my way from the direction of her diaper, sending me into Sherlock-mom mode. A quick search of the basket revealed I had an extra blanket, but nothing else. Leaning over my daughter in the stroller, I discovered that she had accomplished the epic feat of blasting poop clear up her back, all the way up to the nape of her neck near her blond little curls.
Panic started rising along with my heart rate. I couldn’t believe I left the house with no diapers, no wipes, and no extra clothes. Total rookie mom move. I had no idea how to get her back home again without the mess multiplying. I imagined smeared poop all over her, all over me, her car seat, the back seat of our car, and who knows where else.
We dashed into the family restroom, and I tried not to hyperventilate while planning my escape from this very unfortunate event. By God’s grace, my husband was there, and I sent him into the mall in search of a new outfit and to the car in search of a stray diaper, while I attempted to undress my perfectly happy baby and rinse her clean in the bathroom sink. I had hoped that would be the last of my public poop failures. It wasn’t.
In the beginning, I wasn’t confident in my ability to be a good mom. I mean, who is able to muster confidence in what they’re doing when they repeatedly hit the wall of inexperience—over and over and over? The truth is, I was brand new at mothering and I had a lot to learn. I was lost in the weeds of newborn needs, then toddler tantrums, then the next child was born. Then three… four, five, six, and seven babies! If you’re thinking, well that escalated quickly—yes. Yes it did.
I’ve now been a mother for 14 years. On this wild ride of discovery, there are some things I’ve figured out, and many things I am very much still learning. I’ve unearthed many things about each of my kids, and much about myself as well. However, as much as I’ve grown, there are still times I feel like that panicking new mom at the mall.
Very few things about motherhood are straightforward and simple. Nearly everything requires real-time assessment of the situation, piecing together clues, intuitive problem solving, and quick decision-making, all typically under time pressure. All of this must be done on sub-optimal sleep, and likely inadequate nourishment (leftover mac and cheese and your kid’s last two chicken nuggets hardly add up to a proper meal).
One thing I’ve learned is that God doesn’t expect me to have all the answers. In fact, He invites me to seek Him out for the wisdom, strength, and insight I need to make decisions and navigate the ups and downs of raising children. He wants to grow my vision and equip me for every challenge yet to come—not just the public poop experiences. My kids are growing, and so am I, and every day brings its own joy and trouble.
God says He is an ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46) and as I get further along in this journey, I realize He means these words—they’re not empty platitudes. They are His promise.
God doesn’t expect me to be completely proficient at motherhood. He knows my inexperience, limitations, and insecurities, and He is growing me day-by-day in discernment, follow-through, and confidence.
My confidence does not need to be in my own competence. My confidence is ultimately in God. I’m convinced He designed motherhood specifically to draw me close to Himself, that I might truly lean on Him in the midst of my weakness. I can surrender my burdens and worries to His care, and ultimately trust Him with everything that matters to me.
“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Trust is forged in the furnace of close, consistent relationship.
God hasn’t designed us to be self-sustaining. We are capable, brilliant, beautiful creations made in His image, but He always meant for us to be closely connected to Him as our ultimate Source of life and wisdom. Our limitations are there to drive us to the only place where we can draw on these truly precious gifts.
I have grown more confident as a mother as time has passed, but truly, my confidence comes from my connection with the Lord. I come to Him—daily—with my needs, and He faithfully supplies according to His riches and glory (Philippians 4:19). I’ll put all my eggs in that basket, because I know Him to be rich, glorious, generous, and merciful. My needs are met with God’s abundant provision, but only when I go to Him for what I need. I can be confident in His promise to help me through every bit of this journey.
Just like a flower has a long journey of growth before beautiful petals unfurl in their full maturity, so a mother grows. Stretching and learning the ways of a nurturer, she walks the humble road of an often uncelebrated servant. She pours into her family, all while the Lord gently tends, prunes, waters, and guides in His gentle way.
When the heat is turned up, and I feel the overwhelming pressures of parenthood, I ask God to meet me where I am—to speak truth to my insecurities and remind me I am well-equipped by an attentive Father. I can trust Him to give me what I need to get through this day and all its challenges. I can be confident in God and His steadfast love, His matchless wisdom, and His ongoing care for me and my children.
I’m convinced He knows what He’s doing, even when I don’t.
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