I’m going to be real open in this post, because it’s time to let some skeletons out of the closet.
The truth will set you free, indeed.
This is my mommy redemption story.
When my first was born over twelve years ago, I wasn’t the greatest mom. I wasn’t even in the top hundred. I was 25 and selfish. I knew having a baby was going to mess with my life but I don’t think I was ready for just how much mess was coming. What new mom ever is?
I liked sleeping. She ruined that.
I had always been slender and lean with a smooth stomach. She ruined that.
I was spontaneous; I loved doing life on a whim. She ruined that.
And I actually liked working. She ruined that.
I wanted a baby but I wanted my life too.
I didn’t like sharing my “me” time. I didn’t like sharing my sleep time. And I didn’t like sharing my easy time. Having a baby complicated everything and nothing was convenient or simple anymore. And I was not handling that very well.
I loved my daughter, but there were many days that I didn’t like her. I loved her but I didn’t love her with grace. That’s really hard for me to admit, even now.
Looking back, I tried to justify this feeling with the fact that she was a rough baby from the very start. She wouldn’t sleep at night and she wouldn’t nap during the day. She was colicky from about 7 PM until 11 PM, screaming and crying nonstop for four hours. She wouldn’t nurse without a fight. She wouldn’t ride in the car without a fight. I constantly felt like I was engaged in a losing battle. And in a sense I was.
This is a rough adjustment for any new mom, but was even more so for me because I was still working full time and The Huntsman worked the third shift and wasn’t there to help through most of it. He would sleep during the day when we were awake and work at night when we were sleeping. We didn’t have weekends together. I felt like a single parent, very much alone and very much abandoned.
I would spend all night tending to Bunhead, then all day trying to parent her even though I had no energy and not much else to give. She would wake up at least every hour all night long and it didn’t matter to her that I had to be up at 5:30 the next morning to get us both ready for me to get to work by 7:30. I remember crying and pleading with her to sleep. She would just cry louder. Then I would get angry. And that is how it went for the first two years of her life.
There was one night, in particular, that I remember very well. She was eight months old. We were living in a one bedroom apartment. It was a tiny space. There wasn’t much room to live, let alone breathe sometimes. Most of the time I felt claustrophobic by the apartment and by my life.
That night, while The Huntsman got ready for work, I fought her to go to sleep. It took two hours of singing for her to finally close her eyes. I was hoping that she would sleep all night. But this night was looking to be no different from any other so my hope wasn’t very high.
At midnight she woke up. And for some reason that was the night I snapped.
She had been awake for three hours straight and I only had two more hours to sleep. I was beyond tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed. I remember laying in bed with a pillow over my ears, trying to block out her screams. I remember crying for relief that I knew wasn’t coming. And I remember in that moment hating her.
And it was that feeling that brought a darkness over my soul that I had never felt before and it felt like if I didn’t do something I would explode.
I remember jumping out of bed, getting up in her face and screaming at her. Over and over again. I remember at one point wanting to grab her and shake her and never stop but God was watching over her that night and I didn’t. It makes me cry even as I write this knowing that I had pledged to protect her the day she was born but it was from me that God was protecting her that night.
I screamed horrible thing after horrible thing. Curses that cut deep, probably more in me than in her. But it was enough. I had opened up Pandora’s box that night and it seeped a black cloud over me, her, and our relationship.
I never hurt her, physically. And I didn’t say all of the things I was thinking. But my thoughts were cruel enough. After a while I grew to resent her for putting me through this, and my husband for not being there. My heart was dark, black. I felt little joy and I was angry, mostly at myself for not being the mom she deserved. I didn’t recognize myself and that scared me.
But God, in His faithful Grace, was there, working even in those darkest days.
He is always been there.
She eventually grew up. I matured, mentally, spiritually, and as a parent. And many of the wounds that opened and festered in those long days and nights have healed over the years. Time has a way of doing that. But that chapter in my life has never felt completely closed.
I have repented for the anger I felt and displayed, and I know God has forgiven me. But my journey through mommyhood has never felt redeemed.
We have come full circle from our first to our last.
Baby Bee will not sleep. Even now as I write this she is awake. At 3:30 AM.
She won’t take a nap. And most nights she is up for hours. My friends with newborns are sleeping more than I am. I’m lucky to get two hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. And since she won’t nap during the day, no naps for me either. I am tired. I am frustrated. I am overwhelmed.
And worst of all I can feel so many of those old, dark feelings trying to resurface.
And that scares me to death.
Because I don’t want to be that mom again.
So I find myself once again crying out and pleading to God to just make her sleep. Then the next moment, correcting myself, scared that that thought will translate to sleep forever. (Lies, all lies.) Because there is a deep part of me that believes this would be a righteous consequence for what I did those many years ago. (Lies, all lies.)
But that is not Truth and that is not God. And that is part of this humbling journey He has been taking me on over these past twelve years. A journey to freedom from anger, guilt, selfishness. A journey from me.
So last night, I found myself once again at the mercy of Baby Bee’s unwillingness to sleep. She woke up at 2 AM and for the next four hours I fought her to go back to sleep.
I tried the “broken record” technique. She got up, I put her back. In and out of bed, up and down the stairs. Over and over again.
I tried the “sing every song we know” technique. Old MacDonald, Jesus Loves Me, I See the Moon, even Christmas songs.
And I tried the “mommy will lay with you if you lay still” technique. But nothing was working.
By the third hour I had had enough. I finally planted myself outside her door, warned her that if she got out of bed again I would swat her little hinnie. I shut the door and cried right there in the middle of the dark hallway, because I knew I was standing close to a cliff and that just one little move would send me over.
By the time Mister Twister woke up at 6:30, or correction, Baby Bee woke him up at 6:30, we had been awake for over four hours, my head was spinning and my whole body hurt.
But mostly my heart ached.
Because the dark thoughts were once again making their way into my head and I was having a hard time ignoring them.
When The Huntsman tried to help I snapped at him. When Mister Twister tried to hug me I pushed him away. When Bunhead or Alley Oop tried to engage me in conversation I replied back in terse, sarcastic tones. I didn’t want to be around anyone. I was grumpy. Baby Bee was grumpy. My day was turning sour before it even began.
So I stood at the sink, staring out the kitchen window and did what I never did back then….prayed. First for forgiveness, then for relief. I pleaded with Father to take this season away. I told Him I couldn’t handle it and, honestly, didn’t want to. I have been dealing with toddlers non-stop for twelve years and I am done with all of it, the tantrums, the sleepless nights, the whining. I wanted Him to make time move forward. For the toddler years to be over.
Then I started asking why. Why was this happening again? Why did I have to go through that horrible, awful, season again, when I was so far past it? That was 12 years ago. I couldn’t handle it then and I obviously couldn’t handle it now.
That’s when I heard Him speak. Because if there’s one thing I have learned from this humbling experience of mommyhood it’s that God is ever faithful and I desperately need Him in every moment.
That is a lie. All of those dark thoughts you are allowing in are lies. You can handle this. And you will. Because this is your redemption story. Together we are going to redeem what was lost that first year. I am going to once and for all redeem your relationship with your first daughter through the fire of this last daughter. You weren’t walking alone then. You aren’t walking alone now. The difference is, this time you know it.
You see, sisters, mommyhood isn’t about making us happy. It isn’t about making us whole. It isn’t even about making us better parents. It’s about making us holy. And the only way we become holy is living broken at His feet.
I didn’t understand this those first years of being a mom. I didn’t understand that this journey isn’t about raising the perfect child or me being the perfect mom. I didn’t understand that love isn’t a feeling, it’s an act done in grace upon grace upon grace, day after day, moment by moment.
Mommyhood isn’t meant to be a journey that perfects us. It is meant to be a journey that humbles us.
Redemption doesn’t happen because I make a choice to be perfect. Redemption happens when I surrender my inadequacies, my failures, and my brokenness to the One who can redeem everything that is lost, broken, and hopeless.
Maybe your story looks like mine. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe mommyhood, or even life, hasn’t come easy to you. Maybe it has. Maybe most days you wake up wondering how you are going to get through another day. Maybe most days you don’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter.
Because the truth is, to be the best mom I can be-a mom full of grace, love, compassion, patience, self control, kindness, gentleness, and joy-I have to be a mom that lives every moment, good and bad, perfectly broken before my Father.
Romans 12:2 says,
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
I used to think this transforming and renewing of my mind was a one time thing.
Not even close.
We are not being called to renew our minds once, twice, or even three times. We are being called to renew our minds in every situation, within every thought, and out of every word we speak. My transformation from broken to whole isn’t a one and done. It is a constant process of breaking, humbling, transforming, renewing.
And that is grace.
I can’t even imagine being on this parenting adventure without grace now. I wish I had lived broken in God’s perfect grace those first few years, instead of trying to to be perfectly put together on my own. But I am so thankful that Father can and is willing to take what was once broken and redeem it.
We all have a redemption story.
This is mine.