Ok - So this isn't an angry rant - I just wanted to preface with that, but I did want to address something. In my very few weeks/months of becoming a mom, I've noticed a trend. It seems as if our culture has adopted a very negative attitude towards the way we talk about motherhood and children. I don't want to talk about the culture shift or evidences of it, but I do want to talk about how it has influenced me personally. Over the last few months since we found out we were expecting twins we've heard a lot of advice and have received a lot of reactions. Most of it has been absolutely spectacular and encouraging - especially words from other moms of multiples! But I cannot count the amount of times I've heard, "Better you than me!" or "I would NEVER want twins" or "your life is over!" or "you'll never sleep again!" or "Say goodbye to the body of your youth!" Really - the list could go on and on. So many awkward things were said to us during this pregnancy, I should've kept a list! And then once we had the girls and they were in the NICU I was told by dozens of people, "Sleep while you can because once they get home you'll never sleep again" - as if I was sleeping well knowing that my newborn babies were sleeping in little isolettes miles away instead of their intended cribs down the hall... and once we finally get them home our lives would be over.
Don't get me wrong, I recognize fully now what it means to be sleep deprived and how hard the first few weeks with newborn twins can be - preemie babies at that. But there is a difference in difficult and burdensome. And what I've noticed in our culture's rhetoric about children/motherhood is that many times, the difficult moments are discussed in a way that depicts the journey as burdensome. Motherhood is a burden. Taking care of children is tiresome and draining and who wants to do that? After all, we are a society that does not like pain or difficulty. Although annoying, this negative rhetorical attitude didn't strike a significant chord in me until after my babies were here. I've spent the last few days trying to figure out why I am sensitive to it now rather than beforehand, and I think it's because I can look back and see the fear that those words caused in my life in contrast to the joy that these "burdensome" moments bring.
I was never a person who ever LONGED to get pregnant. I knew that one day, in the far off distance, I would want a family. I wanted the end result, the grown up kids, the Dan in Real Life moments with a big family at a lake house, yet I did not want to go through the difficult phase of child-rearing that would produce that end result. I liked my life. My career goals. My social life. My identity. And from what I had heard about having children - all that changes - and I don't like change. Especially if it's a burdensome one.
I think the reason I feared having children is because I gave more weight to the negative rhetoric rather the joyful honest conversations about the difficulties of raising kids. When I first found out we were having twins, honestly, although I was overjoyed I was equally filled with fear about the months and years to come. I was already fearful about having ONE baby, let alone TWO. Thankfully, the Lord placed friends (and complete strangers) in our lives who have twins who have been so encouraging along the way while sharing the joys and difficulties of having multiples. Their words would calm my nerves, yet still, every time I heard someone say something negative I would be back at square one: dreading the difficulties to come. All that to say, for those of us who are now parents... perhaps it's time for an attitude check in our rhetoric. Our words hold power and they influence others - I'm thankful for those who gave us healthy pictures of what the joys and hardships of parenthood. I just wish I had given them more stock during my pregnancy.
Here's the reality, a selfish part of me did fear my life changing and it drastically has, but it's been the best change ever. The truth is... I rarely sleep these days, I'm still wearing maternity clothes, my c-section belly still hurts, I don't shower as often as I should, my social life has drastically changed, AND I am so overwhelmingly happy it's hard to describe. When I wake up at 3 am, frustrated by little sleep, and walk into our nursery and see those sweet beautiful faces crying at me, helpless... I'm in awe of the gift of life and I am in awe of God's design for the family. I am reminded that I am their mother, the one who that God has entrusted them to, and I am overwhelmed with joy when I look into their little eyes. I never thought I'd say this, but I am loving these first few weeks having them home. Absolutely LOVE it. Is it hard? YES. Am I exhausted? Absolutely. Am I shocked by the effects of a twin pregnancy/C-section on the female body? Unbelievably so. Yet I am not overwhelmed by these things, rather I am overwhelmed with love and indescribable joy. Really, it's been quite euphoric. Difficult, but euphoric. Next to marrying the Mister, having these girls are my greatest earthly joys. I pray that these words might encourage others who struggle with the same fears that haunted my thoughts pre-baby. This is hard - but it's amazing.
Well, I'm signing off... it's time for another feeding and probably a night full of little sleep... and I couldn't be happier about it.