Motherhood: A Painful Joy

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I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing that causes more joy and more pain at the same time than being a parent does. And I’ve only been parenting for six months.

Today I rocked my baby girl to sleep for her afternoon nap as I do everyday. She drifted off quickly and began her cute soft snore which I take as a signal she’s ready to go lay in her crib. I lay her down and she wiggles a bit. I’m thinking to myself, oh no don’t wake up! With her eyes still closed she reaches up and takes her binky from her mouth and places it on the mattress above her head, repositions her arm by her side, and then squirmed into her final comfy position. I stood there watching her and I began to feel tears stream down my face. “Where is my baby?” I thought. “How had she grown so fast?” I felt like I was looking at a little girl not an infant. I began to sob. Like alligator tears sobbed. She’s growing up. I for the first time grasped the reality, she IS going to grow up. She is going to change, learn, become her own person. And I get to experience the painful joy of watching it all happen right before my eyes.

I left the nursery and called my mom. She like me suffered from severe endometriosis and had her hysterectomy at age 25. Although she had 3 kids prior, she has always said she felt like she missed out on one. Like one kid was missing. I don’t know if she even remembers but we even caught her setting one extra plate out for dinner by mistake a few times. We kids never felt like we weren’t enough for her or that our family was incomplete. And she never treated us like we weren’t enough for her either. We were her whole world and we always knew it no questions asked. But here I am about to turn 26 and facing my impending medically necessary hysterectomy and I’m already finding myself feeling the way she has described she felt. Like she missed out on something.

I cried to her saying “She is all I have. Gracie is my one and only and she’s going to get big and I won’t get to do this again.” I told her how I felt this new sense of loss and grieving I didn’t feel before I had Grace-Lynn. Before her I was facing my permanent infertility without knowing the joy of loving a child. I didn’t know what I was going to miss out on so it didn’t hurt the same as it does now. I love Gracie with my whole being, every breathe I have, she is my heart and soul and I know I could love another baby that way. I know I could do it all again. The morning sickness and contractions. The sleepless nights and the endless diaper changes. It’s all worth it when you look at that little life you created sleeping so sweetly in their crib or in your arms. Now that I know they immense joy parenthood brings I’d gladly face all the pain it brings with it again.

She said she knew how I felt and understood what I was saying, which I knew she would. She told me it doesn’t change. The crying over your baby growing up. She said motherhood is full of really happy really painful moments. She said it’s the hardest job in the world but it’s also the most rewarding job in the world. She used the term “bittersweet”. And oh man did I get my first glimpse at that today.

As my baby slept I started thinking about all of these moments to come. The painful joyous moments. When she starts to talk and walk or when she starts kindergarten and has her first crush. It flashed before my eyes. Her graduating and finding the love of her life. Her having babies of her own and finally feeling what I feel for her. All of these moments are going to be so incredibly happy and at the same time so sad because I’ll know she’s that much farther away from needing me the way she needs me now. I can see how the tears shed throughout the years are both happy and sad tears.

Our relationship is going to change. We are going to have our own set of ups and downs. But I pray everyday that regardless of the road ahead her destination is already sealed. One day she will move out and leave me behind. One day I will move on from this life and leave her behind. But we are eternally connected and will be reunited with the God responsible for bringing us together. Knowing that I have someone that nobody can change my love for is so amazing. It actually makes my heart pound when I look at her because I never knew I could feel so deeply.
I’ve never known love the way I love my child and I will never know it this way again. So I am going to do everything I can to soak up every joyfully painful moment I have with my one and only.

Regardless of how many children you’re blessed with the ability to have, I hope you hold them tight tonight and every night. I hope you rock them to sleep with gratitude for the opportunity to do so. I hope every mother looks at her child with as much awe as I look at Gracie. I hope all of my mom friends soak up every single second they get with their babies and realize how quickly this incredible time is passing them by. And above all I hope and I pray that every mother out there understands how incredibly blessed and loved she is to have been given the title of mom.
Oh what a painful joy it is!

PS- I wanted to remember how this day felt so after Gracie woke up we took pictures to share with you all! Can you believe how big she is already?! Agh! Bittersweet, bittersweet.

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