Less than one week was all it took for my life to drastically change forever. Though I had no idea for a few days, I began to have a sneaking suspicion earlier than most would believe. I gave my hand in marriage and, within the week, was carrying life. I remember flying home from our honeymoon writing in my diary, “I wonder if I am pregnant!” and then laughing at the thought. But, on March 12th, I recieved the biggest shock of my life: a positive pregnancy test. I had been married such a short time that my gut reaction was, “My parents are going to kill me!” But, quickly, I adjusted to the idea and grew excited.
Because of our honeymoon surprise, pregnancy was the norm for our marriage. Married life was synonymous with being pregnant. Queasiness, baby kicks, a growing belly, preparing for the birth of a child–it all was what we shared as husband and wife from the beginning.
I thought I had figured out life. See husband off to work, clean house, do shopping, greet husband coming home from work, cook dinner, relax. Be a wife. End of story. Weekends were our time, two days I relished beyond description. We would sleep in till nine, wake up, I would make a fresh breakfast and we would have the day to ourselves. We traveled, visited family, and came and went as we pleased. Of course, we had the sinking realization that our days living this lifestyle were numbered. But, what we acknowledged even further was that they had been numbered from the outset.
My daughter was born and I find myself feeling at times inadequate and completely unprepared for motherhood. I am up at all hours of the night, rise early in the morning and live my life completely centered around a child. Diaper changes, feedings, burpings, naps, the cycle then repeats itself. I have been attempting to recover from childbirth, one that was particulary difficult since it lasted over seventy hours, since our little family came home from the hospital and am still not my “old self.” I am a person that, if my schedule is thrown off, I felt I have lost all control. Elizabeth didn’t throw any schedule off; she completely destroyed it. And that has made me, at times, feel like a total failure.
It’s been weeks since I have cooked a meal for my husband. I struggle getting him a decent breakfast of eggs in the morning. His lunch is made in time for him to leave for work, but only barely. I had visions of baking this Holiday Season, visions which were never realized.
In the first weeks of life as a mother, I waited for it. The Epiphany. My mother knew all: how to set up a feeding schedule, the signs of colick and hunger, when it was appropriate to feed the baby a little early, and when to increase her formula amount. She made it all sound so easy: combining the role of wife with that of Mother. I would stand there, in total awe. When would the Knowledge of Motherhood occur to me? Please spare me your laughs. Maybe it was drug-induced or the cause of complete physical and emotional exhaustion, but I expected all the Knowledge of Motherhood to finally dawn on me. I just knew the bouts of complete self-doubt and inadequacy, realized in occasional episodes of full-on sobs, would end in the sudden epiphany of the knowledge my mother knew so well.
Then, one day, it hit me. I was snatching one of those five minute showers only a mother could truly appreciate, contemplating how much life had changed and once again marveling at my mother’s knowledge. Then, the epiphany came, but not the one for which I had been waiting. Rather, I suddenly realized with a sinking feeling that this infusion of Motherly Wisdom would not come because there was no such thing. The only reason my mother seemed to know everything about newborns was only because she had already experienced that stage. For me, it was all guesswork. My mother had her own guesswork as she is currently living with two teenage daughters still at home. Everday of motherhood will be a series of guesses; I will never know it all.
With this simultaneously comforting and horrifying thought, I understand that all I can do now and each day is pray I am making the right choice, saying the right word, making the right decision for my children. In moments of doubt and question, I can fly to my Father, seeking His wisdom and help. That is all that I am expected to ever know. But, the thought of ignorance is terrifying, too.
Each time my daugther looks up into my eyes with those incredibly innocent, peering eyes of her own, I feel so incredibly inadequate and unsure of myself. Here is this soul, lent to me from God, expecting me to know everything and always have the right answer to all her problems. I cannot fault her. Until recently, I expected the same of my own mother. I now understand that she is only guessing herself. Someday, when Elizabeth is grown and holding her own child, she will tearfully reach for the phone and call me. I will be in bed, about to turn out the lights in my own home. She will beg me for answers. All I will do is look heavenward and pray to tell her the right thing.
Right now, however, I will attempt to begin and end each day with a prayer. I will find solace, comfort, and help in my Father. I will look to my earthly mother for suggestions, not expecting solid answers. In my Heavenly mother, I will look to her life, attitude, and maternal wisdom. Somehow, God willing, I will send my children forth into their vocations as successful, faith-filled persons. They will, I know, return to me for help and comfort. I will give it freely, for I will remember a time when I was a young parent and felt lack of knowledge. Eventually, they too will have the same parental Epiphany I did. And, like their mother, they will carry on, with Faith and Hope.