That Moment You Decide You Want to be a Mom

That moment mom

I was terrified of getting pregnant too soon. I heard horror stories of honeymoon babies. And I made sure we would not let that happen. We needed a few years to build our relationship. To grow as a couple. Just. As. A. Couple. Plus, I wanted my body to be remotely attractive for a couple more years. From the sounds of it…pregnancy was the beginning of the end. Of your body. Of your sanity. Of yourself.
But you know that moment, when you decide you want to be a mom? Maybe it happens slowly, or all at once. Either way, it just happens.

You don’t always see it coming.

I remember when it happened for me. It was after a ten-day-long babysitting stint for our three nieces while their mom and dad were on an out-of-the-country trip.

“Are they sure they want us to watch them?” I asked my husband before the girls arrived. We lived in a tiny upstairs apartment, full of breakable glass things that only newly-weds would decorate with. Nothing was for kids. Our kitchen table was one of those tall ones with metal swivel stools. We had not one plastic cup in the whole house. And the closest thing to a “toy” we owned, was a big exercise ball. Poor girls. 

I remember stashing our freezer with dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and Popsicles, and furiously taking down notes as I drilled their mother with questions over the phone about how much formula, and what baby food went with what, and allergies, and car seats, and any “worst-case-scenario” I could come up with.

Our friends kept joking that this would be good “birth control” for us. “Yeah, after this, you guys won’t want kids for years!” They said.

But somehow, a week full of car seats, and bed time stories, and outings to the zoo…actually did the opposite.
Our house was wrecked, we were in high-gear-stress-mode just making sure we kept everyone alive, and we all went to bed dog-tired every night. And…

We loved it.

During our ride home from the zoo, I remember suddenly hearing a sound I hadn’t heard all week: silence. I peered back and found all three girls conked out in their car seats in the backseat. And then my husband and I broke out into this crazy spontaneous “silent cheer” like we just won “The Price is Right.” (As if we actually did something to make them all nap at the same time.) But as we drove we couldn’t help peeking back at them sleeping sweetly. And we couldn’t help smiling at each other. As we rode in the warm breezy silence, our hands found each other and clasped.

It happened so subtly, this knot loosening in my heart. Beginning to come undone in the quiet moments, as I held their toddler hands, and rocked their little, sleepy bodies, and opened up bedtime stories, and covered their bare summer skin with the softest blankets I could find. Sometimes, in those moments, I’d catch my husbands gaze on me. His smiling eyes, that would say without any words at all, “You’d be good at this.”

You were made for this.

This moment suddenly comes when you just know you want to be a mom. You want to start the adventure. You want to take care of, and think about, and love someone else beyond yourself. You want to have a child. To love a child.

I want to be a mom. 

It’s not often spoken out loud. It’s more a whisper of the heart. A daydream. A wooing. Calling you somewhere wild you have never been. A place you’ve always been afraid of, but now you want to go.

Just like when you were a kid and that big roller coaster you were always terrified of riding, begins calling you. You suddenly see it in a way you never have. What once looked like terror, now looks like a wild adventure. Like the best thing you could ever think of doing. To get on. To let go. Not knowing what it will feel like…

Just knowing it’s right. 

It’s like the opening of a door. A door that has never been opened before. A door in your heart. It’s opening wide your arms to the undoing, to the surrender of love, the laying down of self, to love someone smaller, and weaker, and a thousand times more needy, than you.
It’s the beginning of losing yourself.

And the beginning of finding yourself.

All at once.

I used to fear it so much. The undoing. The undoing of my dreams, of my plans, of our marriage. I feared the surrender of my mind, my body, my appearance. I wanted to fiercely guard it all. I wanted us to live on our little island for two for a very long time, where we could talk late into the night, and sleep in on Saturdays, and make love freely. Without interrupting cries. Without interrupting chaos.

I wanted to keep us frozen in time like those two people in our wedding photos. Tanned, and toned, and smooth. And, I wanted it to stay warm, and easy, like in the picture, there on the beach, with our hands clasped forever. No little ones prying them apart.

But I said “yes” to the undoing.

I didn’t know what it meant, or where it would lead. I just knew it was right. I didn’t know it would mean infertility, and waiting, and wrestling with God.
I just knew it was right.

To try.

And you can’t always know what will happen next. It’s just reaching a trembling hand on a door you have never tried before, and seeing where it will lead. Seeing where God will lead.

It may mean joyful celebration of a life in your womb, and new baby in nine months. It may mean doctor visits, and questions you thought you’d never have to ask. It may mean miscarriage. It may mean long nights in the NICU, roaming the hospital halls. It may mean a rescue mission of adoption for kids from an orphanage across the ocean. It may mean a rescue mission for kids across your state. You can’t know what it will mean, but it’s still the beginning of something. 

I believe Motherhood begins, not only in your womb. But long before, in your heart. In that first fragile moment you realize you want to be a mom. The moment that door, that was bolted shut for so long, quietly creaks open. And the wind blows in and a whisper, you hear from the Spirit, echo the words of Jesus,
“Let 
       the 
            little 
                  children 
                          come.”
For the opening of that door…is opening of your heart. To the possibility of life. To the surrender. To the beauty. To the undoing.

And in the undoing of your life, your plans, and your dreams—is also the undoing of your heart. And the undoing of your chains. And in the undoing, you are set free. From yourself. And in the undoing, you find Him doing more than you ever asked, or dreamed, or imagined He could.

Because sometimes it turns out, that the thing you feared the most, is the thing that you love the most. And the thing that you were made to do. 

It’s becoming wild. Not wild as in rebellious, but wild as in untamed, and natural like a wild flower. Not seeking attention, and yet blooming with beauty, before the eyes of God and no one else in secret and remote places. Motherhood is like this.

Because there are different kinds of beauty. There’s the beauty you tried to achieve when you got ready for the high school prom, when you wore your hair in this giant intricate up-do. All pinned up and perfect. With lots of hairspray. And all your friends kept telling you how beautiful you looked. And you kept checking your compact mirror to see if it was true.

And then there’s the kind of beauty you just know is true, and you don’t need a mirror to prove it. This beauty you just kind of surrender to in motherhood.  Where these gentle hands begin to slowly pull out all the bobby pins, pin by pin. And you feel the soft tendrils of of hair start to fall, slowly across your back. Piece by piece. And you just stand there, like you did on your wedding night, when you are finally out of your dress, all undone, and wild, and beautiful.

And free.

This is the undoing.The place this other kind of beauty begins to awake for the first time.

And it all begins that first fragile moment you decide: I want to be a mom.

And then it keeps happening. It happens the first time you hear a heartbeat. And you cry. It happens when your belly starts to take shape. It happens when you meet your adoptive child for the first time, and know at once they are yours. It happens the moment you first touch your baby, and an avalanche of love gives way in your heart. It happens in the first moments of just gazing at their beauty while they sleep. It happens as you slow dance to lullabies in the dark each night. It happens as you collapse into your bed exhausted. It happens as you fill your days with Play-dough and tea-parties, and your big, important agenda gets scribbled over in Crayola crayons. And somehow, you wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Somehow you cry harder than before, but you also laugh harder than before. Because you see, the best moments in life are not the ones of pinned up perfection, but the ones where all you can say is, “Woe is me, for I am undone!…For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5

When the Barren Sing

girl silloutte

I was looking for a parking space in a very crowded lot, when suddenly, near the front, a car pulled out in front of me. I quickly turned on my turn signal, eager to pull in, and whispered a prayer of thanks. But as I began to pull in, I read the sign nailed in front of that space: “Parking For Expectant Mothers ONLY.”

I hit the breaks. And just sat there for a moment, before shifting into reverse.

For Expectant Mothers ONLY.

Who knew a parking lot could be so cruel?

It was like I just got rejected from the Mommy Club. “No barren women allowed.”

The sign could have said: For women whose bodies work right. For women who have had their prayers answered. For women who have something to look forward to.

For women with something to expect.

I still remember it so well. That longing. That wanting to “expect” something. Or someone.

I used to walk through Barnes & Noble and see that giant “Parenting” section near the Children’s Books Department. And the rows and rows of “What To Expect” books.

And I remember the feeling that I had nothing to expect. 

“Because, I expected to be pregnant by now. I expected a lot of things. By now.”

But if you are barren today, I want you to know you have something to expect.

You have Someone to expect.

And He is Almighty God. And He’s coming for you.

My prayer for you today is that you would know His love, and know His nearness, and know His mercy. Because He just wants to pour it out on you like never before.

I know Mother’s Day is just around the corner. And the sting of infertility can become sharper than ever. But God has a message for you this Mother’s Day. He says:

“Sing, O barren, you who have not borne! Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman,” says the LORD.” Isaiah 54:4

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.” Isaiah 54:13

“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you.” Isaiah 54:10

“O you afflicted one, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

First He tells you to sing. And then, He gives you the reasons to sing.

And they are:

1. Because you will not be ashamed.

2. You will not be disgraced.

3. You will forget the shame of your youth.

4. My kindness will not depart from you.

5. My covenant of peace will not be removed from you.

6. I’m going to comfort you and lay a foundation for you. In precious stones.

He’s saying everything you have grieved, all your sorrow, all your disappointment, all your despair—I’m going to remove it. And I’m going to redeem you. I’m going to redeem your life. I’m going to be a Husband to you. I’m going to pour out my mercy on you, and show you everlasting kindness.

Now that is something to expect.

See, God knows better than anyone, exactly how you feel in this moment. Can you hear His tender love here? “O you afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold I will lay your stones with colorful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires.” Isaiah 54:11

He’s saying: I am with you! I am for you! And as long as you put your trust in Me, you will NEVER be disappointed!

So, sing barren one! Break forth into singing and cry aloud!

You were not meant to be silent. You were not called to pine away in despair. You were made to sing, lift up your voice, because of God. And because of His mercy and everlasting kindness He pours out on you.

I hope that there is this sound across the land, the song of the barren women, lifting up their voices. Shouting for joy. And singing louder than anyone in their churches this Mother’s Day. And when they think of Him, when they think of His love, tears fill their eyes. Because He is closer now than ever before.

Because when the barren sing, something powerful happens. When the barren sing, the darkness trembles. When barren sing, Satan shudders. When the barren sing, the silence is broken. Despair and heaviness leave. Emptiness becomes full. Dead places become alive. Hardened hearts turn to flesh. Clenched fists, open wide in surrender with joy, joy, joy.

Laughter is restored. Like the sun warming your skin. And hope. And peace. And rest in the Holy Spirit.
When the barren sing, heaven breaks through.

So sing. 

“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5

And He’s coming to take all your shame, and fear, and sadness, and sighing, and make it flee away. Forever.

[If you need a place to start, listen to this song (it will open in YouTube in a new window): Reason to Sing

For more reading on worship during infertility, or heartache of any kind, here are some other posts that may be helpful: Singing in the Dark, Where Is God When You Can’t Get Pregnant?, About My Barrenness.]

Mother’s Day and the Barren Woman

Every mother at our church had a special glow about her. Perhaps she took 10 more minutes on her hair, or saved that special new Kohl’s outfit just for today. Maybe it was the scrambled breakfast platter that two shaky hands brought to her bedside this morning, or the half-dead flower her 5-year-old tried to “hide” behind his curtain all weekend–whatever it was, the moms were just slightly more “done up” than usual this morning. And it was the first time I noticed.

Because I was not. I was not gussied up, and I had no reason to be. I was not a mom. And at our rate, there was a good chance I might never be.

Mother’s Day can be an especially hard day for the woman who could never conceive, who lost a baby through miscarriage, or who is still awaiting the adoption process. And I personally know why many barren gals play hooky on Mother’s Day: It’s just easier. For me, drawing the curtains, and hiding cuddling with my husband in bed would have been Plan A. (If he wasn’t the worship leader.) But we did go to church. And I’m glad we did, because if we skipped, I wouldn’t be able to know the feeling that can come with it.

Mother’s Day can seem to draw a line in the sand between mothers and non-mothers. Kind of how Valentines Day can feel for the single person. When I was single, I made a point to wear black every V-Day, just to show my angst at the world, and all the lovers out there. (Even though probably no one ever even noticed. Or cared.)

It can feel good to do that. To wear black. But, I want to say: don’t wear black this Mother’s Day. What I mean is, don’t spend it bitter and mourning what you don’t have.  But instead, do this, “…clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12b (Read that list slowly. Maybe when you get dressed, you will remember to ask God to “clothe” you with each one of these.)

So how can you spend this Mother’s Day?

1. “Rejoice with those who rejoice…” (Romans 12:15a) It would considered socially awkward to cross your arms and let out a loud “Boooo!” during a wedding ceremony (just because you’re still single.) As it would be to sulk in the corner at your friend’s 30th birthday party because they get to open presents, (and you don’t.) But there is more to this scripture than just social etiquette–it’s quite purposeful. When you “rejoice with those who rejoice” it fills you with joy as well. (You get some cake, too.) It truly is fun to celebrate what God has done in someone’s life.

2. “Honor your… [mother]” (Exodus 20:12) Thank God for her. And thank her directly. Make her a card, write her a note, tell her some memory you have you guys together, something that would bless her. And may the childlike excitement you had when you once clambered to your mother’s bedside with a crappy-looking craft in your hand all come rushing back. (If you don’t have a mother, consider thanking, or honoring a “spiritual mother” in your life.)

3. “…And Be Thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) Thank God for what He has given you, who He has given you to love right now. And in His wisdom, who he will give you to love in the future. You are not forgotten.

And then say this: I serve a wise, loving God, who is jealous for all of my heart, all of my attention, and He has sovereignly arranged my life for a unique purpose, whether I understand it or not right now. “The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me,”(Psalm 138:8) and whether my life looks full, or empty, my life will be full of God–and I will rejoice because of the steadfast love He has shown to me!

So, when you see the mother’s glowing around you, perhaps you can have a glow of your own. Indeed, you barren one, can have a ‘Happy Mother’s Day,’ as well.