It was the most common phrase people would say to me when they saw me pregnant with the first, and again with the second. “Your life is going to change when you have the baby.” “The second one is a game-changer.” Change was glaringly obvious as I felt the growing fetus sap my energy away, as I saw baby items invade my home, as I found myself thinking and reading about all things baby. I knew I’d be tired. I knew I’d be busy. I knew my home would look different. I knew I’d have tremendous responsibility like never before.
It’s the absolute shaking up of all my core fundamentals, though, that I never really saw coming. I didn’t expect to find myself so utterly exposed by becoming a parent – what I value so fiercely at the core of me; how I react when those values are challenged; how my seemingly calm demeanor can rise and fall like a tidal wave with deep love and deep resentment within minutes; what my own longings have been and still are as a child to my own parents; and ultimately where I place all my hope and peace for myself and my precious flesh and blood.
My fundamentals as an introvert have been shaken up. I love and need time alone to recharge. Beyond that, in my alone time, I need clarity of mind to explore and articulate my always-busy thought life, through writing and through deep conversations with trusted friends. But time alone now comes down to the kids’ nap times, and even then, it is typically overtaken by never-completed housework, bare-bones meal planning, or zoning out because I can’t seem to focus on anything to save my life. Deep conversations with friends are rare, as the majority of conversations are interrupted by “Oh C, don’t touch that! Oh honey, you want to open Mommy’s water bottle? Oh sweetie, you need a diaper change. Oh really, your blanket has Minnie Mouse on it?? That’s so exciting!” I’m sorry, friend, what were you saying? It’s ok, I’ve lost my train of thought too.
My fundamentals as a neat freak have been shaken up. Toys, poop, spit-up, personal clutter that I don’t have time to put away. I never knew how closely I tied a sense of self-respect with a clean home.
My fundamentals as the child to my parents have been shaken up. Becoming a parent brings to the surface all my memories and feelings about my own upbringing. I love my parents and will never fully realize all the love, sacrifice and hard work they poured into me. But we are broken people, all of us. We’ve all got our issues. And nothing brings them to light like becoming a parent myself.
My fundamentals as a wife have been shaken up. I thought I knew how to share life, how to love and joyfully serve my husband, how to receive his service towards me. But when I’m at the end of my rope after a long day of managing diapers and tantrums and meals and discipline and “Mommy Mommy Mommy” and picking up the toys that were just put away 20 minutes ago and 20 minutes before that, how do I really feel about the distribution of housework? I used to espouse all kinds of convictions about putting husband before kids, but most days, the practical reality is that I leave him to fend for himself and struggle to even give my leftovers because then what is leftover for me? The great irony is, he offers to serve me and give me time off, and then I struggle deeply to receive this from him. Did no one warn me of this, or was I just that naïve and oblivious?
My fundamentals as one who believes in and loves a gracious God revealed to us through Jesus….even those have been shaken up. Not in the sense that I doubt His existence. But in the sense that I used to measure my own convictions by how consistently I spent these deep times in prayer and worship and Bible reading, pouring out my heart of hearts and quietly, fully, receiving His love and encouragement. I used to measure my convictions by how active I was in social justice issues, being involved in caring for the homeless, the poor, the victims of human trafficking. These days, my prayer life is scattered because I hardly know where to begin, and once I’ve begun, my brief alone time is gone. My involvement in the world has shrunk exponentially to the walls of my home, for the most part. How deep is my understanding of the grace of God? He is pleased with me, not because I’ve managed to keep up all my spiritual disciplines and all my social justice involvement and all my perfect modeling of a godly Christian woman (please note the sarcasm!) to my girls. He is pleased with me because He loved me before I even knew Him, before I ever chose to acknowledge Him much less try to follow Him. He is pleased with me because Jesus has already taken all my guilt and shame, and doesn’t need my good works to ensure His favor. His grace and love abound here in all my shaken-up fundamentals.
Given all of this, it is an amazing and profound gift to be able to still say that it’s worth it. All of it. These little humans who can overturn all my fundamentals and make me struggle so deeply on a daily basis, they possess such beauty and wonder that they are still worth all of it. What a testimony to the love of God our Father for us. The Creator and King of the Universe coming down from His throne in Jesus to live among us, to feel all that we feel, to serve us, to wash our feet, to die a horrific death in our stead, because this is who He is, this is how beautiful and loving and gracious He is, and this is how much He felt we were worth it. How amazing. These little humans upheave all my fundamentals, and in doing so, they show me a greater glimpse of God. Yes, it’s worth it.