by Andrea Mingledorff
Life can change in an instant. This past June, mine did. What a joy--an overwhelming joy--to welcome a new life into this world.
We spent hours, days, months, preparing for this one moment. The crib was assembled, nursery decorated, diapers bought, and our arms were outstretched, ready to embrace our son. If you’ve walked this road before, you know exactly what I mean when I say that all of the preparation, all of the excitement, all of the anticipation will never prepare you for the days ahead.
I thought I knew a little about babies. I thought I knew a thing or two about love. I thought I was beginning to grasp life. What more is there to know? This was just supposed to be an addition to our family, our life, our love. Oh man--I was in for a surprise. Those tiny little hands reached out and turned it all upside down; but the funny thing is, it feels like things are finally right side up.
God has used my tiny human to teach me so much. If I could sum it up in three points, here’s what I’d pass along to the next new mom: (1) You don’t need sleep to be happy; (2) you don’t need a four course meal to be full, and (3) you don’t need perfect pictures to see what is beautiful.
You Don’t Need Sleep to be Happy
My husband and I joke a lot about the first few weeks with our new addition. They felt less like weeks and more like one continuous day, broken up only by cat naps and diaper changes. But I read a verse that brought me some encouragement...
Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Without a doubt, moms everywhere are rejoicing over this wisdom. Not only satisfied, but with carbs. Okay, but seriously…
I know what you’re thinking--“Girl, you should have expected that.” Believe me, I did. But I dreaded it. I’m a sleeper. Like, I REALLY love my sleep. NEED my sleep. How was I going to survive? Will I ever have brain function again?
Now, I’m not trying to sugar-coat it. You mamas know, it’s tough to be strong when you’re feeling weak. It’s tough to smile when all you want to do is close your eyes. It’s tough to change a diaper efficiently at three o’clock in the morning. It’s part of the territory. And I’m just getting started with this. But I’m glad to know that the Proverbs 31 woman had to arise while it was still night, too (v. 15).
Somehow in the chaos, to my surprise many times, I still smile. I look in those sweet blue eyes and my world melts. I kiss those tiny fingers and time stands still. I snuggle him close with a prayer that he will always be his mama’s boy. I’m tired, but I have never been more alive.
You Don’t Need a Four Course Meal to be Full
Let’s get real for a minute...food. Food is my friend, and (most days) I love my kitchen. I’m a wife and a mom. It’s my duty and joy to make sure my family is full. No one should leave my house hungry, or empty.
She...giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
Pre-baby, I made dinner every night. Main course, sides, desserts.
Post-baby, do you really think I’m giving up these snuggles to spend an hour in the kitchen? Ha! No way. And besides that, I’ve got to plan my cooking between feedings, and he’s usually hungry as soon as we make it to the table. Not to mention, I’m full-time “mom-ing” and part-time teaching (all at the same time!). So my home-cooked meals have turned to faster options, and we’re adjusting.
Yeah, some nights I’m worried. Do we have enough? Should I make anything else? Will my family be full?
I have to slow down sometimes and allow God to show me, we are full. We’re overflowing. We can’t even measure our blessings. We’ve been blessed with a healthy baby. We’re together. Our bills are paid. We may have less meatloaf, but we have so much more joy.
The Lord is teaching me how the virtuous woman is able to “...rejoice in time to come” Proverbs 31:25. I’ve heard it just gets sweeter from here.
You Don’t Need Perfect Pictures to See the Beauty
Instagram and Facebook can be great tools. I’ve got family and friends seven hundred miles north. I love my social media accounts! But I can’t ignore the urge to compare my life, my pictures, with yours. Do I have the perfect angle of the baby’s face? How does my skin look in that picture? Is our hair just right? Does he have on his cutest outfit? Can they see just how cute his chunky thighs are? Is my baby weight showing? Yeah. Those questions and oh so many more.
But I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s admonition of those who got caught up in the game of comparisons. He had this to say:
But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
-2 Corinthians 10:12b
I want to make sure our life looks as beautiful as it is. But it’s not the pictures that make it. It’s not the filters that make it.
When I stop stressing about making my life beautiful for everyone else--I can see the beauty God put in it just for me. I can love it because it’s what God gave to me, not because it measures up to some arbitrary standard.
I love the picture of my baby with his out of control curls, hanging out in his diaper because it captured one of his first smiles. I love the picture of my husband reading to our baby as he drifts off to sleep because it shows their bond so profoundly, even if there’s clutter on the floor. I love the pictures from our newborn session, because even though it was by most standards a catastrophe, it will remind me that there was once a time in my little one’s life that all he needed was his mama’s cuddles.
Throughout my life, I’ve thought I needed a lot of things. There are still a lot of things I want. But here’s what I know without a doubt: I have my Jesus, my family, my beautiful, messy life. Right now, I have everything I need.
So mama, newlywed, college student, teenager, senior saint, empty nester, are you struggling with your vision today? Are you having a hard time seeing past what you thought you wanted, to see that in truth, you’ve been given everything you need? I’ve been there.
As I look at what the Lord has been showing me through this crazy, wonderful journey, I’m reminded that I can’t see the beauty in it on my own. I need Him. Only Christ can turn the mess into something that can bless. He stepped down from His throne, walked among the broken, healed the diseased, died a cruel death, and rose in triumph all so that we could be brought into His redemption plan.
It’s because I’ve been redeemed that I can see how He’s redeeming my story.
If you’re struggling today, I encourage you--give it to Jesus.
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