When I was in my mother’s womb, it was all about me. Her body protected me, fed me, kept me warm and helped me prepare for my grand entrance to the outside world.
When I was born, I breathed on my own, but I depended on others to feed me, clothe me, bathe me, house me, protect me and nurture me. It was all about me.
As I grew, I was taught to become more independent, meeting more of my needs myself. I could tie my own shoes, pour myself a glass of milk and roller skate over to Hendel’s Market (before it was transformed into a charming café) to buy a treat, but life was still very focused on me.
One day, I received my introduction to the concept of community service with the assignment of my first chore. I can’t remember if it was wiping the table or watering the plants, but the important thing was that I was doing something to benefit my family.
In stretching myself and thinking of others, I found a new freedom. Even though I enjoyed rocking babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, serving on Florissant’s Youth Advisory Commission, running the games at our parish’s Vacation Bible School and cleaning up some rundown homes, life was still mostly about me.
After college, married life introduced me to a new level of self-donation. Becoming one has been hard work for a woman as independent as I am. Rather than see compromise as a win-lose battle, my husband and I complete each other and consider the other in every decision.
While we maintain our individuality, our lives are fused. Daily, we are challenged to conquer our selfish tendencies and pick our clothes off the floor, call when plans change, stop staring at the computer to listen and apologize when we fail. We choose to love.
Soon, the “us” of two had grown to an “us” of three (and later four and five). Although this new child did a great job breathing on his own, any other needs that arose made inconvenient demands on our time, energy and sleep.
There is no scheduling sleep, poopy diapers and trips to the ER. This was a new way of living--no breaks, no sick or vacation days, no clock-in or out, no paycheck. Not even a “thank you” until they are older.
Motherhood requires us to give our lives in service to our families. To meet the challenge, we give not only of our control, our time and our body (especially breastfeeding moms), but also our ideals, our plans and sometimes our showers.
After many attitude adjustments, I have learned to be flexible, expect the unexpected and stop waiting for life to get back to the “normal” that will never be. I embrace a new normal every day.
For a little support as you are adjusting to the uniquely selfless role of mother, consider connecting with one of these local groups:
MOMS Club of Florissant: Various Meeting times/locations. Contact Jessica Lener at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stroller Friends/Baby Boot Camp (First class is free!)