Someone wise (don't ask me who) once said something about every gain in life coming with a loss, and although the gain is great, you will still grieve for what you've lost in exchange.
Each move in my life has brought grief for the people and the place left behind. Even marriage brought some emotion on the opportunities no longer available. Becoming a mom has brought a giving up (hopefully temporary) of freedoms and adventures for myself and my husband and I as a couple.
But this one, I have not expected. I was not warned. I was not mentally prepared. It's a grief that has bruised my heart, although not broken.
I have lost...
In a sense, I have lost my little girl. My sweet Madison Grace.
She is no longer mine to keep to myself. Or rather, I am no longer hers to let her have to herself.
My "gain", my sweet ladybug, Eden Rene'. Whom I love just as deeply, with just as much passion and heart as I love my Madison.
But Madison was mine for almost two whole years. Whatever I did, I did with her by my side, and that is the point of what I write now. NOT that I don't love my Eden and want as much for her as I do Madison.
When Eden was born I wasn't expecting to grieve my time with Madison. It took my heart by surprise. The first few days home with Eden I found myself so incredibly tired and warn out, yet truly missing and wanting to play with Madison when I could... although I should have been attempting to sleep!
More then once in the first few days I would find a moment and sit on the floor to play, and Madison actually ran from me. Well, more like turned away and walked to a different area. One time when I tried a little harder she actually went to the wall saying "no, no, no, no!"
That's when my heart truly started to ache and grieve. That's when it hit home.
I'm not only hers anymore.
After the first week things went mostly back to normal. Madison wanted to play and crawl all over me once again. But I had to constantly tell her to be gentle, as I was usually holding Eden. I have learned to balance my time between an infant and a toddler's needs much more, but there are several times where I have to choose between play and rest, even if I don't get to sleep, or a clean home and food on the table. (By clean, I mean picked up)
Madison gets less one on one since Eden still nurses every 2 hours, and I feel as though I'm neglecting her when the monitor isn't on at night. As if not being able to hear her just in case she happens to wake and need something means I've neglected her. And then if she does wake, the fight for sleep overwhelms my body as I bump Aaron and ask him to see what's the matter.
I find myself believing I'm a mediocre mom for choosing sleep or a clean house when I should spend the extra time playing with her. Or when I'm easily frustrated with her innocent attempts to play when I'm trying to take care of Eden. Or when I let her play in the back yard and I simply sit and watch because I just need a moment. But it seems as though every time I "just need a moment", it's almost always at the sacrifice of Madison's time.
I wonder if she thinks I'm as "bad" of a mom as I feel at times.
I wonder at times if she misses the mom I was before Eden came home.
The other night she had climbed into her high chair to "play" while she waited for Aaron to bring her almost finished plate for dinner. She stood up on the foot rest and began to wiggle just enough for the high chair to roll backwards while her body's momentum went forward. She hit the tile floor flat, head and all. I was nursing Eden and found that all I could do was sit up straight, scared and frozen, and Aaron ran from the kitchen to catch her up in his arms.
She clung to him full of trust and love, looking for however he was going to make her feel better as she cried a deep, gulping cry that we have rarely heard from her.
My heart broke and I teared up at the whole thing, knowing it was the biggest fall she had ever had (Her head probably fell from 4 1/2 feet high). The next day I noticed a bruise and red line on the top ridge of her ear, where it had been pinched between her head and the floor from the fall. I can't wait until it's healed and unable to remind me of the whole thing. Otherwise, she was fine, and although she wouldn't eat any dinner and cried on and off the rest of the short evening until bed, she still tried to climb back up the next morning.
But my biggest heart ache... She clung to her daddy.
Not that I wasn't glad he was there, and I'm not jealous of his chance to love on her by any means.
But she has always chosen me when she was hurt. Even if Aaron got to her first and swept her up in his arms, she has always come to me next, or requested me through her tear fill eyes. I've always been able to comfort her hurts.
But this time, I had to choose. I chose to keep feeding Eden while watching Aaron comfort her. And I watched as she didn't turn to me. She didn't request me. She laid in his arms and shared her hurt with Aaron.
To a mother's heart this hurts. It hurts because it's a realization that she has become use to the fact that I won't always be there for her anymore. That I now have two children to love and tend to. And she "understood".
She has become use to sharing me enough that she didn't request me this time.
I know this isn't how the world will see the scene, and I know that my heart is exaggerating the emotions, but I know this is what my heart feels, and it's a legitimate feeling.
A feeling I wasn't prepared for.
I find myself almost over this time of grieving having myself only for Madison as I continue on this road of motherhood. But I thought, maybe if I share it will prepare some other mother's heart. Maybe it will just help me vent mine. Maybe it will just be something for someone to read and think, well isn't that sweet, she sure loves her little girls. And maybe another mom will relate and be grateful for distant kindred support. Maybe even comfort.
No matter what, know that with every gain, there is a loss that must be grieved, but what that wise person didn't know, or at least didn't say, is that with all grief there is healing and growth. I will learn how to be the best mother to my two little girls as long as I shall live. And I will be prepared to grow and share myself among all the children God chooses to put in our family. With the end of my grief, I will simply grow and thrive.
Let's face it, you just can't grieve the loss forever. God chose me to be the mother to my children, no matter what kind of a mother I think I am. Therefore, I will strive to be a good steward of his precious, precious gifts, and in doing so, I will learn to let them know I'll never have to choose who has more of me at a time.
I don't know how a mother does this yet, but God will teach me. It just takes a heart willing to learn, and I have to let go of the grief so my heart can focus on the learning.
Tidbits of Us
- I am the wife of an amazing man, seeking hard after God's will for his family, and the mother of 3 beautiful little girls and a 4th baby lost in pregnancy, who all pull at my heartstrings continually. Life has been a whirlwind since our wedding in 2008, including seminary, adventures in camp ministry, missions in Kosovo, and countless moves and God's fingerprints are throughout it all. We are blessed and encouraged that He is equipping us continually for the ministry ahead and pray we are great stewards to all he has entrusted to us, in family, friends, ministry, finances, and of course, the gospel.