We’re having a boy! A bouncing baby boy; emphasis on the bouncing as it currently feels like he is using my bladder as a trampoline. Which, from what I’ve been told, is what I have to expect from our little guy for the next 18 or so years. Countless well meaning mamas have repeatedly shared with me just how much my world is going to change, because we’re having a boy that is.
Funny how everyone wants to share their insights with you on every subject of motherhood the moment they learn you are expecting. You would think that after successfully navigating the labor and birth of a child, plus managing to keep them healthy and happy for 20+ months, people would begin to trust you with the whole motherhood thing. Sometimes expectations don’t quite mesh with reality though and apparently since my first child was a girl, who must have been the most angelic and peaceful of infants, I am in for a healthy dose of “reality”.
Boys are harder. Boys are rowdier. Boys are louder. Boys are fussier. Boys don’t sleep as well. Boys don’t Ever sit quietly, and they will Never say thank you when you ask them to. These are just a few things I have heard in the short amount of time since discovering that our sweet little one is a boy. Shockingly, these are some of the kindest things I have heard. There have been more than a few comments from supposedly well meaning well wishers that have made me scratch my head and question my own abilities as a mother. A few have even driven me very close to sharing my thoughts out of anger and bitterness.
It should be easy to simply shirk such comments as ignorant vitriol courtesy of insecure mothers who simply want to bring other women down to their level, but it isn’t. Especially when these comments come from women I love and respect, not just the older woman who gets a little to familiar and conversational in the grocery checkout line. When these comments come from the people closest to me, friends and family especially, they manage to dig sharply into my heart and make me question my abilities as a mother. Because I know these women mean well down to their cores, and if they mean well, then what do I do about their comments?
What if the things they say are true? Was my experience with L easier than I thought at the time because she was a girl? And if that’s true, what does that say about my mothering abilities? I distinctly remember desperate tear filled moments at 3am wondering why my baby girl refused to be comforted, refused to eat, refused to sleep. I distinctly recall having to walk away and count to ten as my rambunctious toddler dumped the basket of toys on the floor for the umpteenth time, or fed the dog her whole breakfast, or colored vigorously on the floor. Just this morning she dumped a newly opened water bottle all over the living room floor just to see what would happen, creating a mess that I was less than happy to clean up and making it hard for me to respond to her with love and grace as I knew I needed to.
What if all of these things aren’t really as hard as I make them out to be? And what if my frustration merely illustrates how unprepared I am to mother this little guy God has given us? What if, what if everything people have been saying is true?
If it seems as if this post presents more questions than it offers answers and insights, well that’s because it does. Because I don’t yet have answers to these questions. My insights are incomplete, not well formed quite yet. What I do know however is this: God has placed this baby boy, my Wyatt, in my belly at this specific time because He trusted me to be his mother. God knows all of the things being said by the well meaning women in my life, and he knows all of the questions raised in my heart by their comments. He knows all my insecurities and doubts, and He holds the answers I am searching for. He also knows that when it is hard for me to have grace with the women who say these things to me, these mamas whose comments resonate so deeply within my soul, it is equally as hard for me to have grace for myself and not succumb to my fear of failing at this mommy thing.
Truth be told, I know deep in my heart that Wyatt will be nothing like Lily was as a baby. Not just because he is a boy, but because he is a totally different person who has different lessons to teach me about being a mama. I know without a doubt that raising him will be just as challenging as raising my girl, albeit probably in very different ways. And I know that some of what people say might be true, but that doesn’t define my abilities or determine my worth as a mother.
Every woman at some point in her pregnancy or during her journey as a mother will come across other women, either close to her or strangers, who make comments that cut to her core and draw out questions that make her irritatingly uncomfortable. This is a rite of passage for all mothers it seems. There will be times when we will walk away from conversations scratching our heads in confusion, shaking them in anger, or hanging them in fear and doubt. These comments, these conversations, they are part of the journey of motherhood, but it is not about the words themselves or the emotions they evoke, it’s about how we respond to them.
Can we give ourselves grace, as well as those who bring up these irritating questions and comments? Can we respond in love even when we want to scream at them? Can we forgive them for pointing things out that we don’t want to admit we are deeply afraid of? And can we take all of this to God, the only One who holds all the answers, the only One who can really help us prepare for this mothering thing, the only One who can show us the way? I think this is the only way we can ever truly prepare for this mommy thing. At least, I think this is the only way I can ready my heart for baby Wyatt. Because ready or not, we’re having a boy!