Just because something isn’t easy doesn’t mean its not the best thing that could ever happen. And for me, that is what motherhood has been. Being a mother has been one of the most heart wrenching experiences of my life. But it has also burst open my heart and soul. It has made me into the things I hoped I could be and all the things I never dreamed I could.
On Mother’s day 2007, I stood on stage at church singing in front of tons of moms who were feeling appreciated on their special day. And all I could think was “no no no! Not me! Not yet!” Because you see, just a few hours before I had found out I was pregnant……it was a shock. I knew one day I would have babies, and I was excited about the prospect. But for me, being a mom was not something I had dreamed of. It certainly wasn’t something I had been aching for.
And 7 months later when our little girl, Elinor, was placed into my arms and I was handed the responsibility of an actual person to care for….. I cried. I cried and cried and cried…for solid 3 weeks! And then I stopped. I just stopped crying and started loving. Loving EVERY SINGLE THING about being that little girl’s mommy.
My heart burst open and I couldn’t even remember why I loved my life before her.When I found out I was pregnant with my second child only a year later, I was pretty excited. I had already been stripped of the fear of motherhood. I was already tired. And I was already in love with being a mom. So when our little boy, Charley, broke onto the scene he just became another player in our well oiled machine. And so began, what my husband and I lovingly refer to as, the “golden years.” Our little family of four was pretty perfect in my mind. And it also felt very complete.
But it wasn’t complete, and God knew what our family needed more than I did.
And so, 3 years later I gave birth to my beautiful, strong, adorable son, Bennet. My courageous Bennet, who was stripped from my arms at 24 hours old, poked with hundreds of needles and airlifted away from me to have open heart surgery. That day my heart shattered into pieces. Some for Elinor, some for Charley and many many for Bennet. I sat by Bennet’s side for 8 weeks as he recovered from a multitude of surgeries. I cried and begged God to spare my older children the pain of losing a sibling. And I trusted that we would find joy even in the darkest hours…no matter what that looked like.
And even though Bennet had another open heart surgery at 4 months old, and even though he was 100% tube fed due to complications, he still began to thrive at home, surrounded by the love of his adoring family. I had spent almost a solid year of my life coming to grips with the fact that my son was going to have a life threatening illness for the rest of his life. I spent hours crying out to God to remove my debilitating fear for my beautiful babies’ futures. Little by little, minute by minute, the Lord filled my sorrow with joy. I began to find hope and peace in the journey he has chosen for us. I was able to look up from my deepest pain and see they beauty in our story. And I began to thrive as well.
Then I found out I was pregnant….. yes, pregnant. Oh the shock, oh the tears. God had already given us more than I had ever imagined we could handle. And now only months after Bennet’s last open heart surgery, I was pregnant (and I won’t explain why it was a surprise, but it WAS). HOW CAN THIS BE A GOOD THING!? How can I possibly do this! Me!? The girl who never saw herself as adequate enough to be a mom in the first place! There is no putting into words what happened to our family in the next 9 months. The only word that can remotely define it is : HEALING. Every ultrasound, every milestone, bringing that beautiful baby home from the hospital instead of being wheeled out with empty arms as had been with Bennet, feeding her, staying up all night with her….. all these normal things brought healing. Our sweet Britton Rose, made our family complete. And she made me complete.
I’m so glad that that girl singing on stage years ago had no idea what was in store for her. Because I would have never chosen this road for myself. But I thank God everyday that in His loving Kindness, He understood the desires of my heart better than I ever could. That my journey as a mom has molded me into a person I never dreamed I could be.
Describe your fear of motherhood in three words and define them.
Inadequacy– I never would have dreamed that I would be transformed into a woman who could serve her family adequately. I didn’t understand that no one is adequate. It was the process of being a mother that changed me INTO a mother
Selflessness– giving up free mornings, leisurely afternoons, a full night sleep, undivided time with my husband all scared me. I was terrified to learn to be that selfless. But I much prefer the person I am now after adjusting 😉
Courage– I was scared to open my heart up. A mother has got to be one of the my vulnerable persons on the planet. With each child your heart is broken into yet another piece and left exposed.
What gave you strength during the time Bennet was sick and in surgery?
People would say to me “you are strong.” But I AM NOT. I was so feeble and scared during this time, but it was because of my Heavenly Father that I was able to take even one step forward. I was being carried by His might and covered in His loving grace every step of the way.
What advice would you give to a mommy that just found out her child needs major surgery or is sick?
You will feel like you can’t breathe. You will mourn the life you thought you were going to have. But you WILL find joy in the journey and you will grow to love it so very much.
What’s life like now with 4 kiddos?
Craziness! Sometimes I look around and I’m like “who the heck are all these people! There are SO MANY people in this house, and how did I get to be in charge! It’s not totally easy to balance it all. We have school, church, sports, therapies, and teething babies! But I swear, the few times I have gotten away from my perfect chaos for a couple days I miss it more than I can explain. It will be tough as we get closer to Bennet’s next heart surgery, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Motherhood is an amazing rollercoaster, what highs do you have and what lows do you have?
This is not an easy question for me to answer. Motherhood is draining. Some me days I feel like I am drowning. My lowest lows always come when I am exhausted. It’s when I can’t see the forest for the trees and I have convinced myself I will be changing diapers and singing power ranger songs to put my son to sleep for the next 15 years. But seeing my children grow, to see them overcome obstacles is easily the most beautiful thing a mother can witness. I see how God is using the circumstances in their lives to transform them just as He has done in me and I am filled with peace and joy.
Now that you have told the Mother Effin Truth, who do you want to nominate to tell their story as a mother? And why?
I have the most wonderful inspirational woman I’d like to nominate. And she is super excited. Her name is Amy Bennett.
After finding out Bennet’s diagnosis, Amy was the first “heart mom” to reach out to me. Which sounds nice, but it’s really not just nice. It’s pretty spectacular. She has a son with the same medical condition and instead of letting that drain her or consume her time she finds the strength and time to pour into many families who are new to the world of medically fragile children. She also is one of the founding members of an organization called sisters by heart. Which supports families of kids with HLHS in impactful ways. I could go on and on about Amy!