Eventually he arrived after 2 long days of contractions and false-starts. But he arrived in the end. And we loved him so. I was 28 and my husband was 26; not that young, really, but we were the first to become parents among our peers, and so this wrinkled newborn was in the hands of amateurs. Complete amateurs. I’d never even changed a nappy.
In those early days one person helped me believe there was light at the end of that seemingly endless tunnel. Two years older than me, and with a bucketful of wisdom, my sister phoned me every single day for those first few weeks. Every day. At least once a day. And when the pain of feeding was excruciating she offered grace. And suggestions… “Have you thought of trying this” or “This used to work for me” and “I know how hard it is”. Her words were water to my weary soul. And then there was another woman. Her kids had flown the nest. But she hadn’t forgotten. She hadn’t forgotten about those early days when newborns cry and mothers despair. She didn’t need to say much. Just a few words of “I know. I remember. It will get easier.”
And so I vowed when I was out of the muddle of early motherhood not to forget. Not to forget those hazy first few days and weeks when the world of new parents is tuned upside down, never to be the same again. I vowed not to forget how those first few weeks are marked both by indescribable joy and great bewilderment.
And then there was someone else. She cheered me on in those toddler years. As my first-born grew more “creative” in his mischief she would reassure me. As a mother of three boys she would say “This is normal. It happens. You’re doing a great job. Keep going.”
You’re doing a great job. Keep going.
And then she’d give me hints and tips on how to manage behaviour, what had worked for her, what hadn’t, and why.
And then, of course there was my mum, who patiently and quietly listened and empathised on the days when I could see no way out and no solution. She would nod, smile, and quietly clean dishes, sweep floors and take home huge piles of clothes from the ironing basket.
There were many others. But these ones stood out.
These were the women who trained and discipled me in the ways of motherhood. These are the women who cheered me on. And boy, did I need those women.
They passed on their wisdom and their ideas at different stages of my mothering life. They never judged or tried to belittle or minimize the challenges. And maybe most importantly, they hadn’t forgotten. They hadn’t forgotten how perspective goes with sleep depravity. They hadn’t forgotten just how painful breastfeeding can be. They hadn’t forgotten how a temper tantrum could cause even the most patient of women to blow. They just chose to get alongside me and pull me out until I could stand on two feet again.
And now all, around me, I’m seeing a new generation of young mothers and mothers-to-be. And for this new generation I want to be one of those people “who hasn’t forgotten”. Just recently, the first baby was born in our “extended family”. Though they’d moved to another city I tried to pick up the phone in those early weeks and be one of those who hadn’t forgotten. Just as others had done with me I tried to be one who said to her: “Keep going. It’s hard, but you’ll be ok. Hope is around the corner. How can I help?” I want to keep doing that.
Jesus showed us a model of investing and pouring His life into those around Him. So, as I follow Him, I want to be a mother who pours into those new mothers around me. Just as others have chosen to invest in and pass on their mothering heart in me, I too want to pass on the skills, character and heart of mothering. Not because I have any more skills or qualifications, or because I’m anything more special than any other mother.
But just because I’m a mother and I haven’t forgotten.