Mother's Day: A day when moms get to wake up, and do exactly what they did the day before.
A lot of you are new here; I wanted to thank you so much for subscribing and joining The Orchid Blooms family. Karibuni :).
This past Sunday was Mother's Day and I was blessed with a beautiful surprise during an interview with Janet Mbugua, which you can watch here. I love a good surprise, but this one had me floored. My years as a mother have had many highs and a good deal of seriously low lows, so this interview and gift from my brother Isaac, were immensely precious.
What were your expectations when you first found out that you were going to have a baby? I still remember being consumed with how the future would change for us. I knew there would be sleepless nights, and a lot of diapers. I knew our time alone in our house would be gone for the next two or so decades until the kids were grown and out of the house. I was apprehensive, excited, nervous and overjoyed.
There is one thing I did not prepare for. No, it's not the years of depression and anxiety. That was a hellish experience, yes, but today I want to focus on something else.
I did not know what being tired meant, until after that first positive pregnancy test.
First, it was the exhaustion from growing a human being in my body. Heh! It was indescribable. I remember being in a mall in Cape Town, around 32 weeks with my son a week before we relocated back to Nairobi. I had to buy some baby stuff I knew would be three times the price back home. When I was done, I walked out of the store and looked around, a bit lost. Then I figured out where my car was parked. In my heavy state it was going to take me at least three days to walk to that end of the mall. It felt like I was being asked to walk to another country. I sat on the closest bench and started sobbing, quite a sight with the shopping bags around me. The next thing I remember is being startled awake by some noise. I had cried myself to sleep, on a bench in the middle of a mall, in broad daylight. People, I was tired.
Then came that exhaustion of keeping a newborn alive with milk that came out of my body. There are no words for this. I felt like a milk dispenser with the tap always running. The fatigue seeps down into your bone marrow, an entire depletion of every last reserve in you. Sleep becomes a rumour you hear whispered in the wind whirling around in your mind; which now feels like it has nothing but tumbleweed in it. Gone are the days when you read books, and had conversation with other adults.
And then came the next tier of fatigue; a pregnancy whilst mothering a two year old fire cracker. No elaboration needed; you walk around feeling like you need a 24/7 dextrose drip taped to your arm.
I am currently in the next echelon: full time parenting of two toddlers; one who is still teething, making each night a guessing game: 'how many hours of sleep shall we get tonight?'.
Let me explain what this is not. It isn't a diatribe on motherhood. It is not a disregard for the blessing that children are. It is most definitely not an insult to those who would give anything to have children of their own. What this is, is pausing to point the spotlight on the feet of the swan paddling furiously underwater, as she seems to effortlessly glide across the lake. The explanation behind the tranquil, placid face of a ballet dancer, as every muscle in her body is being worked to full capacity. What this is, is taking a moment to understand the mom on Sunday morning; nicely dressed, a toddler on her hip as she pushes an infant in a stroller, with a diaper bag hanging off her shoulder. She smiles, she has conversation, and in almost all cases, she's genuinely doing alright. But she is worn out, dog-tired, utterly drained and expended of her mental and physical resources as a human being. She's already emotionally preparing for the meltdown approaching because the kids are going to miss their naps today. She knows the lunch out at Mambo Italia with their good friends will come close to finishing her. There will be food thrown on the floor, drinks spilt, bruises acquired from the bouncing castle, and she will barely taste her food as she referees all of the drama. As she went to sleep last night, she had a long to-do list organized in bullet points in her brain for this Sunday out. She's gone through the outfits to dress the kids in, the ones to pack, the number of diapers required, how many milk bottles the baby will need, snacks to occupy the toddler during the service, a few toys and of course, her own clothes. And the wheel just keeps on spinning.
There's a major Achilles heel here. A mother can start to think she is Superwoman. She can start to see herself as the fuel that keeps the home alive and running. She may begin to resent her spouse, because he doesn't "work as much as she does", and that he doesn't recognize her daily sacrificial efforts. And when Mother's Day arrives, she will not be satisfied until the household is practically waving palm fronds declaring, 'There is none like you mommy!'. It might sound shocking to see it written plain as day like that, but so many of us secretly see ourselves as entirely indispensable in our homes. "If I decide not to do the grocery shopping this week, what are you guys going to eat? If I don't wash and iron your clothes, what will you wear? If I decide to not pay utility bills, how will you live in this house? You can't live without me. You just can't."
Oh, but women,we are not God. Why do we think our skill set is of cosmic dimensions, as though we were somehow supernatural? 'But we are women; we are strong, we can endure all things.' Yeah, but nothing makes itself. It's not something inherent, something you call into being from within you. You, have a maker. And He makes you strong for your family.
When you go months without sleep. When you are on your feet all day, doing housework and cooking meals. When you are engaged in the battle that is your laundry heap. God enables you, strengthens you, sustains you and rejuvenates you until the very last minute of the day; and even then it is He who lays you down to sleep and wakes you again, because He watches over you, keeps and protects you.
I am frequently this mother; who demands recognition and admiration. And while I believe it is right to honour mothers for the incredibly hard work they do, I think we the mothers need to check our motives, and our focus.
Our incomparable feats as moms have made me really amazed by God. I've been in such awe of Him. He loves us so much. He spends such time helping us, taking care of us. Did you know in the Bible book of Isaiah, there's a verse that says he cares for mothers as tenderly as we care for our children?
Check out the different versions of the verse I've found:
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing.
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather together the lambs with his arm, and shall take them up in his bosom, and he himself shall carry them that are with young.
That last one is my favourite;he himself shall carry them that are with young. It just makes me sigh with relief. He's got this. He's the source of strength, not me. I can stop all the striving and lean on Him...He's carrying me. I don't have to try run the world; that's His job and He's doing it perfectly. With Him, I can drop my admin mode, my mom-game face...it isn't necessary. In our relationship, He's the parent, and I'm the child. And the parenting of my own children is something He is very intentionally helping me do with His gentle leading. I don't need to be all macho, thinking I don't need any help while looking down on those who I think should be contributing...it's all so unnecessary.
Husbands and children, honour your wives and mothers. It doesn't have to be on Mother's Day, but it would be really nice if you did celebrate her on the day, in a way you know she would love. Some moms want breakfast in bed, and a day alone at home, so take the kids out til late afternoon. Some of us want a day away, so book her time at a spa, give her a shopping spree, or a night at a quiet lodge with good food and great beds. Take her out to lunch, or dinner. Buy her flowers, chocolates, a book she would love, shoes, a scarf, jewellery. Do something, to honour her. And accompany all these acts of love, with words. Tell her how much you appreciate her. Tell her you love her. Thank her. And thank God for her. This is the right thing to do.
Mothers. Thank God for making you a mother. He didn't have to. It was a gift, through no doing of your own, so you can't boast about it. Thank Him for sustaining you as He does, and for leading you on this treacherous journey of raising children. Be in awe of Him. Doing this will shift your focus off of yourself, and onto Him where it should be.
This will be particularly helpful for you if you're unfortunately in a situation where those you take care of will not honour you, recognize you or treat you well. You will know God has you in His arms, close to His heart and He is pleased with you as a mother.
Christian, wife, mom, doctor, and an alien on earth, on my way to the city of God.