It’s daunting, being a mother. I think back to the first night in the hospital, after the frightening and traumatic birth; the moment I realized just how much he needed me.
I can’t remember what hour of the night it was. I was mid-much-needed sleep and he was across from the foot of my bed in the little bassinet. My husband was on the other side of the room, sound asleep on the couch. The newborn screams woke me instantly and I panicked — I couldn’t get to him.
My body couldn’t move; every ounce of willpower doesn’t move abs that have been cut open. I could start to wiggle my toes but my legs certainly weren’t going anywhere. The anesthesia had yet to wear off. I called for Josh. He didn’t budge. I called louder. Still nothing. I yelled — no movement. After a few minutes of me trying to yell [and throw pillows] at my husband in between screams from my newborn, I let the tears loose and frantically searched for the button on my bed to call a nurse. A nurse came, rolled the bassinet next to me, and helped me get my boy.
I can’t say I remember anything else about that night, only that panicked scene and coming to the realization that my baby was fully dependent on me. No one else was going to satisfy him. No one else could satisfy him. It was all on me.
That realization still hits me hard some days. There are things his daddy can do too, and he needs Josh just as much as he needs me. Yet there are things Josh simply can’t do.
Some nights as I sit in the dark rocking my little one I think of the dependence he has on me and how sweet and special it is, how God saw fit to design moms and babies this way. The baby grows inside and is nourished and strengthened by the mom – everything Mom takes in goes to Baby too. This provision is carried on longer than nine months; after Baby is born, Mom still provides the food. Baby is still dependent. It’s a weight, a big burden to carry. A stress if I let it be. And really, terrifying. But how precious at the same time; how incredible and what an honor.
(Please note, I understand not every mama-baby duo (or trio, etc.) functions this way – and that’s okay. This is simply an illustration.)
This dependency is so strong and intense. It’s a daunting honor to be entrusted with the life and well-being of a little human. To have what my baby needs when he needs it. I sit and watch him and wonder how the rest of his life will play out — if only I could always meet his needs so simply.
If only his cries could be satisfied with food or sleep; his diaper changed and body bathed and he’d be happy. If his problems consisted of things I could diagnose and fix. But it won’t always be this way. There will be situations I can’t intrude on and problems I can’t fix. There will be ups and downs and times of happiness and of sadness. His dependence will not always be on me, nor on his dad.
Little by little he’ll grow and mature, taking on responsibilities and becoming more and more independent. It’s a good thing; it’s supposed to happen this way. Josh and I get to lead him and train him and let him go out from under our authority and guardianship. We’ll always be his supporters, encouragers, and advice-givers — but the roles will change.
So for now, I want to embrace the dependence. Even when the nights are long and my body is sore and tired. The times I cry and wish someone else could just please do it for me. The countless diapers, the painful screams, the demands I wish could wait five more minutes. I want to embrace it all.
I want to be thankful that I get to be his mama, thankful that God equipped me to care for him even when I’m concerned I can’t. To recognize the beauty in the simple things and not take them for granted. Each day with my little boy is a gift I want to be grateful for. God provides for both of us without fail. He gave us each other, and He’s always faithful to sustain us.
* * *
“The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent.”