Here’s what you have to look forward to, the article said.
No sleep. Dark circles. Post-baby bodies and clothes that don’t fit. Tantrums and messes and no more vacations. Thankless hours, endless “whys”, painful play dates, a struggling marriage.
But be happy! the article says. Parenthood is worth it.
Somewhere in the negative narrative we’re supposed to find hope. Somehow, along the way, we came to see difficulty as a problem; we came to see “hard” as “bad”. The sacrificial life Christ calls us to is personified in the service of parenthood, but those who don’t see their life as an altar will struggle to give themselves up.
So it is with our world. So it is when all they tell us all we can look forward to is difficulty and pain, made only a little better by baby smiles.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to accept this version of parenthood. You can go into it with eyes wide open, arms ready to sacrifice, and the joy that comes from giving yourself up, even with no return.
There are days I am overcome by frustration; days I am angry with how my child behaves. Days I hate being pregnant and despise cleaning up a high chair. But these emotions do not define my motherhood, and they do not have to dictate me. I am above my emotions. And I choose joy.
I choose to remember – not the negative narrative – but the truth: There is so much to look forward to.
The surge of strength as labor ends and life begins.
First time fingers curled around your thumb.
Little blinks and newborn yawns, froggy legs and baby stretches.
Rocking at midnight to your mother’s songs.
Ruffly dresses, button down shirts, tiny shoes with impossible laces.
That first giggle, that first recognition, that first connection between baby and you.
Stroller walks as you recover from birth.
The pride in your progress as you work off the weight.
Her first show of personality and will.
Watching her clean up her toys on her own, the way you taught her.
Roadtrips to the zoo and the beach, playing at rest stops, eating chicken nuggets in his seat.
Her first word; her first “why”; your first chance to answer his curious mind.
Sloppy kisses and a little lisp.
Meeting new moms, making friends, building a community right where you are.
Watching two toddlers smile and hug.
A more refined marriage; a more balanced home.
A stronger, truer love.
This isn’t unrealistic. It’s not about rose-colored glasses; it’s about looking through the lens of intentional joy.
We decide what we look forward to; it can be negative, or it can be positive. We can let the experiences of others become our reality, or we can bravely set out to create a reality of our own. We can be overcoming mothers. We can live on a higher plane.
It’s not ignoring emotion. It’s rising on the strength of an Almighty God. It’s actually living with eagle’s wings (Is. 40). He promises to be enough. Do I believe him? When I do, I overcome – and this overcoming can be my motherhood.
The hard things beautify this story. Without them, the picture is incomplete. Without sacrifice, my joy would be muted.
So yes, there will be late nights and dark circles. There will be messes and diapers and difficulty. But you will still shower. You will still sleep. You will laugh and you will pray, you will cry happy tears, you will be strong and capable and utterly enough.
You have so much to look forward to.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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