what casper's first month has taught me about my self-love

Becoming a mom has exceeded my expectations for both the good and the bad. I remember nearing the end of my pregnancy and having moms caution me to "enjoy it now while you still can" and I really didn't get it. Isn't having a baby the greatest joy of life? Yes, I know it's hard but doesn't the bliss make up for the challenges? After 9 months of pregnancy I came to accept it and was prepared for a good challenge anyways. I typically would tune out these enlightening voices that would heed me warnings about how I'll never sleep again or watch a movie again or eat again.

Obviously every mom's experience is going to be so unique (and that's part of what makes this whole thing so difficult too). Along with warnings of the challenges of momming, many women also warned me about labor. I found my experience to be really different than they made it out to be - in the best way! So it's possible, then, that lots of moms really do find it a fun and adventurous challenge when their baby finally comes along. If, in the past month, you've asked me how everything is going, you've likely received my go-to answer which is that being a mom is 100x harder and more challenging than I could have ever prepared for and that, if it could somehow ease the difficulty, I would go through labor again a few more times. This is a far cry from what I expected myself to be saying during my first four weeks with Casper: sentiments like "I am totally blissed out and love being a mom" and "I love him so much I cry about it every day." Oh, yes, I am crying. But not always happy tears and because I'm bursting with love. Much more often, tears of desperation and because my hormones are bouncing from one extreme to the next.
Danaea Li photo

Typically, the feedback I receive is in reference to the lack of sleep many moms experience in the first few months: "Oh yeah, it's so exhausting -- make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps!" But for me, my struggle has less to do with the lack of sleep and more to do with the sinking feeling of losing my freedom. Nothing in this world could have possibly prepared me for how a baby would make me realize how incredibly tight I hold on to, and nurture, my love of myself. No one could have convinced me, before having Casper, the extent of which I love to love myself. If I haven't learned anything else this past month, I have certainly learned how selfish I am.

When Casper is working "according to my schedule" - i.e. when he goes for a nap and stays like that for 3 hours so I can shower, or wash the dishes, or write a blog entry, or when I take him out and he's peaceful and I can contentedly stare at the sun or catch up with a friend over coffee - when those things work out, I am like "hell yeah, I love my angel baby!" But when Casper interferes with my time and my "plans" and I can't figure him out - i.e. when he stays awake from 3 until 10 no matter how hard we try to coax him to sleep and I can't even sit down and eat a proper dinner with Lucas for an entire month - it really feels like Casper is "inconveniencing" me. I know that sounds bad. And it is. He is just a simple baby with simple needs: food, boob, me, and sleep. It doesn't feel good to admit that I sometimes look upon him like he is interrupting my world. He did nothing to deserve that emotion be felt towards him.

Danaea Li photo
So needless to say, I've had to have a major shift in my mindset. Everyday I pray for grace and pray that I may cheerfully view my day as a Casper-day where my needs may get fit-in somewhere instead of a me-day where Casper's needs get fit-in somewhere that works. I resurrect the simple, yet powerful, statement I heard everyday as a camp counsellor from our camp director, Greg: "Be Amazing Today!" Greg encouraged us staff that when we are sick or exhausted or have a bed-wetter or family drama or camp relationship drama (ha!), that it all takes a back-seat in lieu of the one magical week our campers are there to experience. His urge to us was that our physical and emotional needs as camp counsellors were to get put to the side every hour of every day so that we could give 100% Amazing to our kids. I never thought about how much that would return as the same attitude I need to have as a mom.

Today, on Caspers one-month birthday, I am so grateful. Not grateful for a perfect text-book child who runs like clock-work. Because that ain't Casper. But grateful for how my little peanut has opened my world up; for how he's taught me about this massive weakness I carry around. I always had it in me but never the opportunity to come face-to-face with it in such a real way. I'm grateful, as well, for the forgiveness I receive when I am unable to look at the task with cheerfulness in my heart. He still wants to come to me when he cries and smiles at me when I sing to him or talk to him. He is God's grace on my unworthy attitude and for that, I am eternally and altogether grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully expressed, Rena! I love that you've written about this, and admitted what is hard to admit! Keep writing! Also, congratulations on Casper in general! I've definitely been following your photo updates :)