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I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I became a mom.

April 6, 2015

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Before I had a baby, I promised myself that I wasn’t going to talk about how hard motherhood is. I had heard so many other women tell me that motherhood was the most difficult/wonderful thing they had ever done, but quite honestly I was discouraged by those stories because they made me dread, rather than anticipate, what was to come for our little family. But now that I’ve been doing this motherhood thing for about six long and incredibly short weeks I can safely say that motherhood is every bit as hard as others told me it would be but for reasons I never anticipated.

You see, I knew that taking care of a baby was going to be challenging. I had babysat for years and had enough experience around babies that I wasn’t totally naive about how consuming childcare can be. But it’s not the baby care that’s so challenging. No, it’s the fact that caring for a little one and giving yourself to your infant exposes you and every single one of your selfish desires and there is no place to hide. Being a momma and loving our little girl has brought me face to face with just how selfish I really am, even though I never thought of myself as an overly selfish person to begin with.

Over the past number of weeks I heard that little voice in my head saying, “What about ME?” about a thousand times. When Ainsley is awake from her nap 30 minutes ahead of schedule and is crying for her bottle just as I’m getting out of the shower, dripping wet. Or when I’m starving and sit down to finally eat dinner, but Little Miss wants to be bounced and swayed and cuddled. Or when I’m laying in bed, desperate for a couple of consecutive hours of sleep but the paci fell out of her mouth and she needs to be soothed back to sleep for the tenth time that night.

When I write these things down, they seem incredibly trite. I mean, what’s the big deal on missing out of a little sleep, being a little hungry, or not having the time to blow dry your hair or put on a little makeup? But I think I seriously underestimated how much I cherished those basic things in life: sleep, food, exercise, a hot shower.

At church yesterday, Easter Sunday, I was feeling like the ugliest version of myself. I had on a pretty dress and my hair was curled and our family looked photo-ready. (See evidence above) But inside, my heart was anything but pretty. Ainsley had spent the better part of the night crying inconsolably and being incredibly fussy, leading us to believe that she had an ear infection. After a middle of the night call to the pediatrician, they suggested we go downtown to the children’s ER since all things related to your kiddo are bound to happen on a Sunday, aren’t they?! We trekked to the ER at 4 am, sleepy and weary and a little worried only to find out that Ainsley was just fine and most likely just going through a developmental leap leading to increased fussiness.

On the way home I felt relieved but more than a little agitated. I was grumbling to myself about how tired I was, how little sleep I had gotten, how much we were going to have to pay for our trip to the ER, etc. My pre-baby self was throwing a fit inside about not getting what I wanted. In short, I was acting a lot like Ainsley. Totally acceptable when you’re a 6 week old baby, a lot uglier when you’re a 27-year-old momma of a newborn.

So when I sat down at church and sang those songs about the sacrifice our Savior made for us two thousand years ago, the ultimate sacrifice, it put my little tantrum into perspective. I thought about how diligently we, and many others, prayed for this sweet little baby of ours and how I’ve spent the better part of the last couple of weeks complaining about the very blessing I wanted so desperately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been so thankful for Ainsley and for our new life as a family of three, but it hasn’t been without significant growing pains. The very real and very difficult process of dying to yourself and your desires often gets lost in the sea of stories about how blissful new motherhood is. And it is blissful, most certainly, when your little one sleeps on your chest all curled up or starts to show signs of their very first smile. But it’s also difficult, and that’s okay, too.

So, if you’re a new momma, or about to become one, I want to let you know that it’s okay to struggle a bit, to miss your old life, and to struggle with your selfish desires. As my own mom affirmed to me yesterday, the transformation into motherhood is a process and something that takes a little time. Expecting that transformation to occur completely the minute you have your baby is holding yourself to an unrealistic standard. So let’s all vow to give ourselves a little grace in the process, shall we? I know that I, for one, have never needed more grace than I do now that I’m a mom!

Madison

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25 Comments

  • Reply DessertForTwo April 6, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Oh, Madison. You don’t know how badly I needed to read this. I already know how selfish I am, and I have 4 weeks before baby is here. I’m trying to wrap up all of my work before she comes so I can give myself completely over to her, but I need to realize that she’ll be here when she’s ready, not when I’m ready. Thanks for your encouraging, honest words. You’re doing GREAT, Mama! <3

  • Reply Mackensey April 6, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    This is all so very true. I have an 8 month old, and I still have moments of wanting to pull my hair out when all I want is to enjoy an hour at the gym, and I walk in the door to a crying baby and a husband looking at me saying ‘he’s hungry!’ Sometimes I feel like how dare I ask for a shower and time to myself! I also remember oh too well the desperate need for sleep; the first month I truly DREADED bedtime because I knew I was in for waking up 3-4 times and ‘going to bed’ never really happened. I woke up in te morning relieved that the night was over. I’m sure you have heard it a thousand times but it DOES get better and we learn as we go every single day šŸ™‚ hang in there new mama, very soon you will have some smiles and giggles to reward you for the sleepless nights and showers cut short!

  • Reply Beth K April 6, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Yep, this, totally. My son (now 4.5 yrs old) was 6 wks old at Christmas, and I clearly remember my pastor preaching about Mary’s struggle. He said, “Why do we expect God to make everything easy for us when Mary, His son’s mother, struggled to bring him into the world?” That stuck with me to this day because I was in the same place you’re in right now. Over the past few years I’ve felt myself stretch in ways I couldn’t imagine that day. My patience, willingness to give up myself and things I want, and sacrificing time and again for my son have grown tremendously. But it didn’t happen overnight, as you said, it happens little by little, each day, and before you know it, you’re in a place you don’t even recognize and you’re happier for it. It’s a lot like trying to lose weight or build muscle – it happens gradually and then all at once.

    I would just say that I’ve learned to keep a few nuggets just for me so I still feel like Beth, the individual, not just Beth, the mommy, all the time. Mine is finding time to read and watching bad TV dramas on Thursday nights. You probably can’t find time for that now, but you will. You are in the thick of what I think the hardest part of parenting — adjusting to a new infant and a new life! In a few months like will feel more normal.
    Best of luck, you’re doing a great job, I’m sure!!

  • Reply Heather Disarro April 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    We have had a similar experience lately girl, and it’s not easy. Hang in there – because as amazing as motherhood is, it gets even better. And (I’m totally preaching to myself here) even in the hard times, taking a deep breath is key to focusing on cherishing these times. I can’t believe Austin is already 2 weeks old, and I have to purposefully try not to wish away these snuggly newborn days.

    Sending love and good sleeping vibes your way!

  • Reply Jackie Pace April 6, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    I love how brutally honest you are by sharing exactly what your thoughts are and being true to yourself. I am a new mama of an almost 3 week old and I feel the same way. It’s just great to know someone that says it aloud since we are all thinking it anyway. I especially love what you said in the last paragraph that it’s okay to miss your old life and struggle with selfish desires. It’s just nice to know that someone else is having those same feelings and we are all in this together.

  • Reply Shanna April 6, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    It is so good to step into the light and face our own hearts together, and, ugly and painful as it is, it is so good to see what is real in us, even as it is gloriously being transformed and changed. I feel my selfishness in every imagination about night feedings and physical pain! Already! I NEED to hold that up to Jesus and how He emptied Himself for me. Good thoughts, friend, and at a time when everyone says it’s hard to have clear thoughts at all! I love seeing Him in you. You encourage me.

  • Reply Danica April 6, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    This is a beautiful post, Madison. I’m pregnant with our first right now, due in August, and while I’ve been around babies/kids my whole life, I know I can’t fully understand motherhood until I’m right in it. Your honest perspective on your first six weeks is refreshing in a lot of ways.

  • Reply allisonramsing April 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you for being so honest about motherhood. Praying you get a couple moments of time to yourself over the next few days.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry April 6, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      I’m trying to sneak little moments in every day, even if it’s just five or ten minutes to take a hot bath and read a magazine!

  • Reply Kelsey LaValle April 6, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    Totally right on. I don’t find this complaining- simply telling the truth of motherhood.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry April 6, 2015 at 11:59 pm

      Thanks, Kelsey! I absolutely do not want to complain or come across that way. But I also don’t want to paint a picture of perfection, either! It’s quite the change and the process is refining, for sure!

  • Reply Mikalah April 6, 2015 at 6:25 pm

    This is so true! I’ve often said the same thing. I know that the Lord honors our actions though, so even when I feel that way I try to give myself grace and do the right thing (i.e. feed the baby even though I want to feed myself first! haha!). God teaches us SO MUCH through motherhood, and it is a very painful refining process at times.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry April 6, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      I love what you said about wanting to feed yourself first! Ha! I’ve been there, too, just begging for a few extra minutes to put something in my mouth or wistfully looking at my food going cold while I feed my little one. Thankfull to know I’m not the only one!

  • Reply Jamie April 6, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    Thank you for being so honest. We will be having our first baby in just under 7 weeks so I really appreciate your honesty!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry April 6, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      Thanks for your sweet comment, Jamie! Best of luck in the weeks before baby arrives. Soak up that time! And know that whatever you do or do not feel during those first few weeks of motherhood are so normal! šŸ™‚

  • Reply Anne April 6, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    This is exactly what I needed today. I am a first time mom to a 3-week old. Since she arrived it’s been absolutely wonderful to challenging and everything in between. Just yesterday I told my husband that having her has shown me how selfish we were before. Our new life has been an adjustment with some growing pains. I dealt with some guilt about not feeling the constant euphoria of motherhood that I expected. Hearing you also acknowledge the growing pains with new motherhood really helps.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry April 6, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      Oh girl, yes, yes, yes to all the above! I told my husband the same thing yesterday. I asked him if it was bad that I didn’t feel like motherhood was this blissful, dreamy thing that I read about on so many blogs. He, of course, assured me that it’s totally normal, but I think I had it in my head that I needed to feel a certain way in order to love my daughter properly. I keep reminding myself that I love her deeply, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t have feelings of loss or growing pains along the way. We’re in it together!

  • Reply Aileen April 7, 2015 at 12:15 am

    I’ve been learning a lot too through having my new 5 week baby. It’s hard for me not to relax and enjoy this time without feeling the need to be productive all the time when I know I should rest when she does. Even though I know the other things don’t matter, sometimes it’s hard to let go of how things were pre baby.

  • Reply Mindy April 7, 2015 at 4:04 am

    I’ve got three. Nine, seven, and three. You’ve probably heard this before, but the stage you’re in is the easy one. It’s really hard when you’re in the middle of it, but looking back, it’s a cake walk compared to what’s to come. Everyone said the same thing to me, and of course it’s nearly impossible to appreciate when it’s your day to day, but those baby snuggles are the one thing you’ll miss the most. Try to engage and soak them in. My mom framed this for me when I was pregnant with our first: “Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow…for babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow…so quiet down cobwebs…dust go to sleep… I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.” Just breath. Every stage is fleeting.

  • Reply Laura Elizabeth April 7, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I can only imagine how eye-opening it will be to become a mother and see how selfish I am when I am tried and tested. I think you’re right that you need to give yourself grace especially because you are new at this! God will help you grow into a patient and selfless mother!

  • Reply Sara K. Larsen April 8, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I know I’m definitely going to have selfish moments when my little one is born. I’m nervous and also very excited!

  • Reply Lisa April 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    My daughter is ten weeks old. About eight weeks ago I realized I will never take a shower or hot cup of coffee for granted again.

    Adjusting to this new normal is rough; especially when “normal” seems to change on a daily basis.

  • Reply Urban Wife April 8, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Your honesty about this season shows so much maturity and a willing, humble spirit. I’m sure you know this but you’re doing such a great job with being Ainsley’s momma. Praying for you! You can trust that each season has its unique challenges but in some aspects, finding time for yourself will become easier as she gets older. šŸ™‚
    Xoxo

  • Reply Krista April 9, 2015 at 2:08 am

    Through out my sons first year I learned so much about being a mother but in many ways I learned even more about myself. It was a hard yet amazing year. On his first birthday I looked at him and couldn’t help but cry. This boy made me a momma but also made me a better person. thank you for sharing your heart.

  • Reply Alyson April 10, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing such an honest view of motherhood and how you are feeling. My husband and I are hoping to start a family soon and I’m sure I will be humbled a million times during that season but because of you and your sweet posts, I will know that it is completely normal!

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