The Thankless Year

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Look how happy we look sitting on my rocking chair! To be more accurate, look how well rested my little ladybug looks! Would you have guessed that I had spent a better part of that week crying and praying she would get over a brutal ear infection and finally fall asleep? Or that I had spent most of my nights sleeping propped up with a baby on my chest because that was the only way she would sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time?

That first year of motherhood is really brutal.

It wasn’t the extensive sleep-deprivation or raging hormones of being a new mother that really bothered me. It was the monotony of my routine. Every two hours I would feed, change a diaper, and rock baby back to sleep. It was a thankless, overlooked job and there was never any indicator to tell me whether I was doing this whole mothering thing right. So I was constantly stressed and frustrated and hoping that I was doing something right.

But then it hit me last night while I was gently rocking my toddler in my arms.

How many hours have we spent, both night and day, rocking together while I held her? How many days was spent with her cradled in my arms while I watched time slip past me? Hours turned into days which turned into weeks. And yet, we stayed still. Rocking back in forth in the same chair.

I hadn’t realized how exhausting it would be to sit in a chair and wait. Wait for baby to fall asleep finally. Wait for baby to wake up from a nap. Wait till she was old enough not to need my rocking to nod off into sleep. Wait till I could have “my” life back finally. Or so I thought.

Of course I loved and cherished every minute spent snuggling with my daughter (snuggling with babies is more addicting than crack cocaine) but failed to see any real significance to this time we spent together. It felt like stolen time from me because I had become so unproductive. Drowning in this routine, I felt like I was losing sight of my identity as my own person. Beat down by the constant waves of exhaustion and demands. Everything revolved around baby’s needs and wants and schedule now.

But maybe that was the way things were supposed to be. I didn’t own myself anymore. There was no “my” life to get back to.  Similar to the promise I made when I got married to give myself to my husband (and vice versa), I made a promise to this baby girl the day she was born. I was hers now and she was mine. Getting up every 2 hours to care for her or spending hours in the early morning rocking her was my life now. There was no other option. No Plan B. No room for failure.

This is who I am now and I like it.

I am the one who steps up to the role of nurturer . I am the one that pours myself into this small, helpless child all day every day and still has enough to do it all again tomorrow. I am the one that this littling depends on.

Because my seemingly fruitless routine was building something much larger than I knew. All those hours we accumulated were strengthening a bond that we can only see glimpses of. I see it when her face lights up when I come home from work now or when she wants nothing more than to curl up in my lap when she is looking for a safe place. While she won’t remember the nights I spent rocking and soothing her, they are among some of our most fortifying moments together bonded as mother and child.

And that serves as a sliver of hope for me. I like this new life.  It’s taught me that even the moments I would consider small and feckless lay the foundation for the big moments in our relationship together. It’s matters what you do in those seasons of waiting and stillness more than how long you linger in them.

Be deliberate and grateful with the time you have with your little ones. Those “little” moments don’t seem so little to them.

 

 

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