One more week until I’m back at work.
Until you came along, finishing nursing school and conquering the emergency room had been the most difficult, yet satisfying accomplishment. Now, the stress of exams and learning how to behave in a code seems trivial in comparison to being entirely responsible for nourishing a human life.
We were blessed with the opportunity for me to take four months off work in a country where some women get no time at all. One month of that time was spent sitting by your isolette in the NICU as we eagerly awaited your homecoming. I watched you start your journey from a frail little bird with limbs the size of my fingers.
After you finally joined us home on December 7th, Vlad and I spent the rest of 2018 floating through our house in a sleepless haze common to new parents. Every feed felt like life or death as we learned to care for your needs – fortifying your breastmilk with extra calories, supplementing vitamins, making sure you remembered to breathe while eating – all the while praying for good growth.
It was tough to be cooped up in the house during a long winter, especially after Vlad went back to work. I was equally anxious about flu exposure as I was about just being out with an infant – what if you had a need I could not provide? Then, slowly, we began to brave the outside world together. I remember the elated text I sent Vlad the first time you and I went to Mariano’s. Grocery shopping went from a mundane task to a monumental accomplishment.
Now our time together is getting sweeter by the day. We have learned one another the way mothers and daughters do. I love our early mornings especially. Waking up is still as tough as ever but after the morning bottle, we lay together on the big bed and you give me the best smiles. You’re starting to take in the big world around you. I feel so privileged to shepherd you through it.
In a week I will trade in your soft snuggles for being party to the physical, and often spiritual, ailments of strangers. That is what nursing is, after all. It feels a bit odd to be leaving you. And I must admit, it feels guilty. That mom shame is so, so real.
I keep reminding myself that God made me your mother, but he also made me a nurse. He gave me the mind to pass all those exams, the skills to assess a critically ill patient and the words to comfort a loved one just as he gave me the intuition to know exactly what you need from one cry. Now, again with His help, I have to figure out how to balance the two.
Being a working mom is no walk in the park. Neither is the life of a stay at home mom a permanent vacation. Career choices aside, the pressure is on to make organic baby food, decorate a sparkling home on a penny budget, and to look “I woke up like this” perfect on Instagram. Women are in competition with one another to raise beautiful young prodigies all while looking and being fabulous themselves. Reality is, it currently takes me several days to fold one load of laundry. The amount of dry shampoo I’ve been using on a regular basis is slightly concerning.
I recently listened to a podcast interview of Hannah Anderson, the author of Humble Roots. In it she relates many of our life stresses to pride. She states, “pride is self-reliance and attempting to live beyond the limits that God has placed in our lives.” Baby girl, how badly I needed to hear that! For I am such a limited human being. I know, that try as I might to be a perfect mother, I will inevitably fail in some way. And I’m learning to be OK with that.
My hope is that as you’re growing, you see me as a mother that leans deeply into the grace of God. As you see me going to work, I hope you are inspired by seeing me using the gifts God gave me and consider your own. I pray that you are modeled what humility and forgiveness looks like as I learn what they mean and practice them in the context of motherhood. Instead of trying to be a perfect parent, I want to teach you that God is the most perfect Father any of us could ever have.
I am sure there will be days that I will want nothing to do with getting in the car and driving to work. I am certain there will be at least one instance where I cry because of missing you or not being able to witness a milestone firsthand. But there will also be priceless greetings, bed time stories and lazy Saturday mornings. Our time spent together will be all the more cherished.
We are entering into this new season at full speed. Change is hard, I must admit. But also necessary. We will be in a brand new place, and it will be different. Different is not bad, though, and we mustn’t be afraid. Our love will change too – it will only grow stronger.
We will figure out this new place in life together and find a way to make it even sweeter.