5 Permissions (and Commissions) for the New Mom

2013 January-Selah Paige Fox 147New Mom’s or Mom’s-to-be: Here is a bit of “sisterly” advice I gave to my own sister at her baby shower a few weeks ago. I gave her five “permissions” and five “commissions” as she embarks on the journey of motherhood. Enjoy!

5 Permissions for the New Mom
1. Permission to wear sweatpants. Every day. I always vowed I would not do this. But then I realized something: I can not be fully happy…until I am in my sweatpants. (Don’t worry, you will totally rock them.) (P.S. You can always change real quick into that cute [ahem: socially acceptable] outfit once your husband pulls into the driveway.)

2. Permission for Imperfection (in your house and appearance). Your house does not need to look like the pages of a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. And don’t think because you are not “working” you must be the Super-Organized-Clean-Freak you have always fantasized about being. It’s harder than it looks. I once saw a wall sticker that said, “Please excuse our mess, we’re busy making memories.” If you hold to this mantra, you will be happier. (P.S. If your house is making you scream, call your Mother or Mother-in-Law to come clean it for you. There’s nothing sweeter than falling asleep to the sound of her vacuuming downstairs while you nap.) And as for your appearance. Don’t expect to wear your skinny jeans home from the hospital. Freaks of nature do that. Once you are a new mom, you have limited time and energy to put into how good you look. So what if you only put mascara on one eye before leaving the house, and have spit up down the back of your black shirt? (Of course, you will be horrified when you later discover this in the bathroom mirror at Target.) But just remember, people won’t be looking at you as much as they will be drooling over your baby. Get used to having him/her steal the show. On some days, you will be truly grateful for it!

3. Permission to be late. No matter how timely you are (and any female blood relation to me is not very)–but no matter how timely you “were” you can just throw that out the window. No matter how hard you try, chances are, when you are loading Baby into his carseat, you will notice liquid poo has seeped through his pants. After about 37 baby wipes, and three peed/pooped on diapers, you will dress him in Outfit B, and run down stairs. He will spit up on you. You will run back upstairs and change your shirt. Once in the drive way, you will realize you forgot some “highly valuable” object (like the binky, cell phone, or for goodness’ sakes, the diaper bag!) and sprint back into your house to get it. This dash from your car to your house will happen about 3 times before you actually pull out and drive away. (Of course your neighbors will think you are psychotic, but maybe they already do.) Get used to this routine each time you try to leave your house. (And note: the more important the event (ie. weddings) expect even more delays. Your baby will want to show up fashionably late.)

4. Permission to open food at the store, (before you buy it!) You are a Mom now–go for it! Open the Teddy Grahams, the Goldfish, the Puffs! And don’t feel a drop of shame when you hand the cashier an almost empty bag as you check out. (So what if your baby doesn’t have teeth yet, and is only a month old?) Just look down at him, pat his back and say, “Hungry little guy!” Look straight ahead, smile confidently, and march that cart straight out of the store. (You gotta do, what you gotta do.)

5. Permission to Rest. Please. For the sake of everyone around you. Take. A. Nap. (If possible!) New mom’s feel SO GUILTY taking naps. Once the baby is sleeping…you do not need to remodel the living room, complete an Iron Man, bake a few pies, whip up a gourmet dinner, and appear helplessly gorgeous the moment your husband walks in the door. Get the rest you need. You will feel so much better, and be able to tackle your goals with more energy after that. (It’s amazing what soup sleep can do.) I assure you, your husband would rather have a sweet, well-rested, slightly messy house, than a Pinterest Perfect “Princess” who accidentally singes his eyebrows off the moment he walks in the door with dragon fire.

5 Commissions for the New Mom

On a slightly more serious note, I want to send you out into Motherhood with these five commissions: 

1. The Commission To Be A Kid Again. All of those things you miss from childhood, (you finally get to do again!) Building forts, crawling around on your hands and knees, snow angels, finger painting, wrestling, Play-dough, Disney movies, laying in the dark with a flashlight. A big part of becoming a Mom, is learning to have fun with your child. (And you don’t need to wait until your child is 4-years-old to start doing fun things–even babies like to have fun in their own way.) Be the kind of mom who gets down and plays, takes adventures, uses imagination, laughs out loud and dances wildly. You will impress upon this little heart more than you think. And your child (as all children) can always tell if you enjoy and embrace your life, or merely drudge along each day. Fill your home and atmosphere with life and adventure and joy.

2. The Commission To Not Fear Your Weaknesses. There will be moments you have no clue what you are doing. There are things that the “What To Expect Books” just don’t cover. And there will be days you aren’t sure if you, or your baby cried more. But where we are weak, God has promised to be strong. Isaiah 40:11 says, “He gently leads those that have young.” And He will give you everything you need to be a Mom.

3. The Commission To Enjoy Your Baby. Any mom can tell you how fast the time goes. It really happens before your eyes. Like a flash. The days coming may be tired, but they are so very happy, in a new kind of way I doubt you’ve ever experienced. Enjoy this little person in front of you. At the end of your life, you won’t care if you finished the dishes every night, or had a floor you could eat off of; you won’t care about the clothes you wore, or how many projects you completed, (or even how great your blog was;): you will be glad you cherished time with the ones you loved. They are the ones entrusted to you, they are the ones that matter. And this baby, who stares into your face with wonder, you have so little time to enjoy, before he or she grows up, and flies away.

4. The Commission To Know Your Worth. Our world doesn’t make much of “just being a mom.” But God does. Realize you are shaping another human soul, and no one can replace you, or substitute for you. You are his mother. The only one. You are completely unique, and God knew exactly who this little boy would need for his mother. He chose you. It doesn’t matter how unqualified or weak you think you are. He will give you everything you need to be his mom.

5. The Commission To Trust God. Thanks to the Internet, there are a billion things to fear, and you can look them all up on Google and WebMD. But before you do that, know: He loves you and loves your baby. And you are about meet your baby for the first time, but God has known him by name from before the foundations of the world. And whatever happens in this life, God loves him even more than you ever could, and will hold him long after you are able. He will care for him forever. His eyes saw him in the secret places of the womb, and spoke his being into existence. Therefore, God is stronger than any threat, wiser than any doctor, and more loving than any person. Every day, keep placing your trust in the God who made this child and will love him forever, and never stop loving him, even in the world to come.

 

 

[Readers, what other permissions or commissions would you give to a new mom? Or which permissions or commissions did you find helpful when you began motherhood? Please share in the comment section!:)]

The Man Who Sleeps Beside Me

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It’s early morning, when I wake and feel him next to me. I lie as still as possible, careful not to wake him. I look over through the pale blue morning light, the quiet prelude before dawn. The beeping will sound soon, and he will wake and rush with the rest of the world. But for these few quiet minutes I lay here, hearing nothing but the sound of his breath.

This man.

How did he come to me?

I remember the day I met him, I remember the way his hand greeted mine. The touch of his skin. The only skin I would ever touch or be touched by, again. I had no idea then, that we’d be lying here together, eight years later, like this.

I remember the way his fingers moved with careful fretwork up the neck of his guitar. And the way his voice soothed a part of me I never knew needed soothing.

I remember the first time he kissed me. The gentle flush in his cheeks. The steady green in his eyes, like the sea after it’s rained.

What happened to the wonder? The wonder of…

Of…him?

How did I get like…this? Love-less. And demanding. And more interested in making dinner than making…

Love?

Could I be still enough,
to take him in?
To drink deep and long of love again?

Too many words are spoken, broken, spilled. There are expectations and disappointments, and flaws and failures, and real sin, and real pain, and real…

Grace.

That word, that thing that Jesus came to show us. And poured out His blood for. So we would know what real love looks like. That it sweats, and cries, and bleeds. That it gives up self. And makes itself low.

And is gentle. And is kind.

And is not rude.

Do I see him the way God sees him?

Because: God sees him as precious.

Precious.

Fearfully and wonderfully made…by God Himself.

I have him for only such a short time. I do not even know how short. And I wasn’t chosen just to be his housemaid, or his business partner…but his wife. His bride. His friend.

To have and to…

hold. 

I look over this morning. His chestnut hair falls across his forehead. He is so still. So quiet. So handsome. It all seems so simple here…before the beeping.

But it’s a choice: Who will I rise to be today?

Today, could I bend a little lower,

speak a little softer,

wait a little longer

kiss a little slower?

To fall in love. To fall like leaves, in surrender. To fall to my knees, becoming tender.

For I am his, and he is mine. And the banner over us is Love.
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[Your turn! I am challenging you to participate in the”Fall In Love” challenge. All you have to do is to share in the comment section one thing you love about your spouse. Or, if you are blogger, you are doubly challenged to write a post endearing to your spouse and leave a link to it in the comment section.]

Don’t Waste Your Barrenness: 10 Things to Do While You Wait

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It can feel isolating. It can feel like everyone notices that your belly is flat. It can feel like everyone reads “Not Pregant” like a tattoo across your forehead. At the baby shower, questions start to surface: Why her, and not me?  Is there something wrong with me? Has God forgotten me?

The answer is:

                        No,

                                    Dear One,

                                                  He hasn’t.

Barrenness, in some ways, is like singleness. For many, it is a season, not a lifetime. For those who have a God-given desire to parent a child, whether through natural, or adoptive processes–will most likely be doing just that one day. The problem is, you don’t know when, or how long you will be waiting to do it.

You don’t know if your “infertility” will last another month, year, or decade. God knows. But He often keeps those secrets to Himself. And I think the reason He does that, is because He wants to give us something even better in the process. He wants to give us Himself.

However long the wait is, you don’t have to spend it with the posture of your head in your hands. This is the time God has given you (before parenting) to live awake, and alive. If you spend this time like you would in a doctor’s office waiting room, you will just..well, sit there. And maybe leaf through magazines waiting for your name to be called. But that is not a good use of your time. If you haven’t yet, start seeing this “waiting room” time as season of incredible adventure, possibility, and purpose.

Here are some practical things to do while you wait:

1. Recognize God May Have a Special Calling On Your Life. Instead of feeling overlooked by God, start realizing the truth: God has chosen you for a special purpose. Maybe you aren’t like everyone else. He has a unique calling on your life. He may have appointed you to do something or minister to people you couldn’t reach if you had children right now. Perhaps, through this “waiting”, He is wooing you, calling you, to step out of the norm and find Him. He may be about to show you something incredible, you would not otherwise be able to see.

2. Live Radically. Is there anything “dangerous” or “risky” you’d like to do? This could be something like going oversees for a mission trip, traveling somewhere foreign/awesome, or sky-diving. Pray about doing it now, and not then. Once you become a parent, you see everything differently. (Not that you can’t ever do anything crazy or fun ever again.) But life is a little more fluid now, and you have the capability. Don’t break your bank account, but consider that this might be a season God is calling you to adventure. (Plus, any future kids will love to hear your wild stories at bedtime.)

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I even got to climb a mountain with this stud.

3. Buddy Up with Your Husband. A chief complaint of couples who got pregnant before they married, or very shortly after is: we didn’t have enough time together! This “time” God has given you is a blessing, not a curse. Get to really be best friends with your husband. Really get intentional about listening to him, learning to love him more, and laugh with him. The stronger your relationship before you have kids, the more likely you two will be able to grow and communicate after having kids. Don’t make an idol out of him, but learn what he loves. And even be willing to participate in his hobbies that have never appealed to you. (This might mean doing things you never imagined, like: going hunting with him, watching (and cheering louder than him during) football games, go golfing, skiing, or yes…even PLAYING Fantasy Football. Whatever it is. I dare you.)

4. Develop a Hobby or Skill. So..I took violin lessons with a man I swear was Gandalf’s twin brother. It was awesome. (Can’t say I’m the fiddler on the roof, since my violin is stuffed in the storage closet right now. But it was a lot of fun to learn!) Right now you have time to learn to do something you have always wanted to do. This might be a hobby you will enjoy (like a musical instrument, or knitting) or it might be a skill you can later turn into profit (ie. learning photography, or graphic design.) Learning a marketable skill may be more useful than you think, and may help to keep you at home with your babies once God gives them to you.

5. Exercise. When I was not able to conceive, I remember thinking, “Hey, at least I still get to exercise! Some pregnant women are not allowed!” I loved spending that time going on long two mile runs outside (it’s long for me, okay?), lap swimming, or jumping into a volleyball match. I’m not saying that becoming a mom is a death sentence for working out…it can just change it. A lot.

6. Career Time. If you want to realistically stay home with your child(ren), this time God has given you to work a job is a great time to clear away debt. Keep that at the forefront of your mind. Really pray about making big purchases now, that you could be paying for later (ie. houses, cars, exotic vacations etc.) Sock away that money into bank! Private/and international adoptions are expensive, if the Lord should lead you to do that. And if not, it never hurts to be a good steward of the finances God has given you, trusting He will teach you how and where to use them.

7. Invest in Other People’s Lives. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. Wasting time on other people, is not a waste. Seek out ways to serve in the lives of your friends and families and church and develop the gift of nurturing people. (I had the privilege of mentoring junior high girls during my waiting time, and loved it!) But if you seek out practical ways to help or invest in people who need it for the glory of God, you will never be wasting your time. I remember telling God I was ready to have a baby because I had so much love in me, I was overflowing. I remember sensing the Spirit’s reply, “How well are you loving the people I have already given you?”

8. Turn Your Waiting into Worship. When we bought our first house, there were like three extra bedrooms. One of them was even decorated as a nursery when we moved in. Of course every time I walked past that room, a pang of longing came. When will we have a little person to fill that room? Months and months went by. And those bedrooms, though they began to fill up with odds and ends, seemed only emptier and emptier. One day, I decided to make the “nursery” a room for worship. I cleared out some of the junk and would go in there and just worship God, often on my knees, or on my face. And you know what? After worshiping my God in that empty room, He would come and fill that space with His presence. He would come fill my empty heart, as a dwelling place for His Spirit. The “waiting room” became the “worship room.” It was a time to seek the Lord like I never had before. Not so that He would give me what a I wanted (a baby), but so that He would give me Himself.

And He always did.

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Our first apartment getting wrecked by Brandon’s nieces. It was worth it.

9. Cultivate a Heart for Children. Jesus loved children. And so should we. Look for opportunities to get to know some kids. It will only soften your heart, and prepare you to love whatever children God should give you more. Baby-sit for your friends with kids, or your nieces and nephews. Their parents will really appreciate it, and though it may seem like a stretch, you will probably love it. We did this quite a bit during our waiting time. And it was a blast. Of course we had NO toys at our house, and not one plastic cup…but we got creative and made it work. It also opened our heart further for adoption (something we were seriously considering at the time) and made us willing to love and care for any child, any age, or race, that needed a home.

10. Seek His Face. I can’t say this enough. God is what makes life full and alive, whether your womb or household is empty or full. The best moments in life, are the ones that are full of God. The very title of this blog “Barren to Beautiful” is not about going from infertility to motherhood. It’s about seeing. Do you see your life as a barren wasteland, or a beautiful masterpiece? Children don’t change that perspective, God does. Because if you are stuck seeing all the “lack” around you, even if you should have a child, or ten, you will just find more reasons to be unsatisfied. Nothing and no one else but God can satisfy and transform you. Don’t let yourself be a stagnant pond, open your hands, open your arms to God, and to the people and things He has placed before you right now–then the streams of Living Water will flow to and through and from you, and pour from your soul. That is how the barren become beautiful.  “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

This post was inspired by John Piper’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” For more info on my barrenness read my post About My Barrenness or any of the posts under the TTC (Trying To Conceive) category.

I’m praying for you this morning.