Seven weeks ago, I gave birth to our son, and I was flooded with immense joy and love. I was also flooded with immense responsibility, sleep deprivation, and dirty diapers. I’d known motherhood would humble me, but I couldn’t have known exactly how. Now, almost two months in, I’m realising the extent of my selfishness — the extent to which I hate being interrupted.
My REM sleep is interrupted every two to four hours by my son’s need to eat during the night. My time spent in the Word is interrupted by his cries. My day’s outfit choices are interrupted by spit-up stains. Even my attempt to write these last three paragraphs was interrupted by him losing his pacifier during nap time and screaming at the top of his lungs. (He is now napping contentedly on my chest as I type.)
It’s tempting to yearn for control. To mourn the loss of freedom and un-interruption. To resent those who still have them
Sometimes, it feels as if I’m controlled by my child — that the success or failure of my day hinges on how well he sleeps. That my sanity is determined by how well he eats. That my ability to step outside and be social depends on how happy or irritable he is at any given moment. It’s tempting to yearn for control. To mourn the loss of freedom and un-interruption. To resent those who still have them. To harbour bitterness against this little boy who relies on me for everything.
Yes, I know these moments are fleeting, and I should enjoy them. Very often, I do. I remember to soak in the sweetness of his cuddles, the innocence of his dependence on me, the preciousness of his tiny little frame in my arms — all of which will be gone when I blink.
But contrary to culture’s push to just remember that “this too shall pass”, I don’t think that’s enough. It’s not enough to simply say to myself, “You’ll miss all of this one day!” Yes, I will. But that doesn’t negate the mountain of sacrifice I have to climb today. It doesn’t give me resounding joy and peace as I wade through the muck of laying down my time and body and wants for a little human who can’t even say “I love you” back.
What does bring me joy and peace and patience in the tough moments is Matthew 20:28: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”. I am to emulate Christ to my son, and the best way I can do that now — while he still does not understand the words I speak — is to serve him as Christ served everyone around Him. This takes mundane tasks like diaper changes and countless loads of laundry from passive duties to purposeful acts of ministry.
Serving my son like Christ served those around Him takes mundane tasks like diaper changes from passive duties to purposeful acts of ministry
This has much more power than “this too shall pass”.
This is worth the interruption, time and time again.
This is my purpose as a mother and as a believer.
The more I serve my son, the more I realise we should all be living this way — sacrificially, servant-heartedly, willing to be interrupted, treating others as if they were Jesus. Having a baby just gives you the opportunity to do so every single day.
In my worst moments, I sigh at the task. I beg God for patience. I squeeze my eyes shut and ask for forgiveness. But in my good moments, I take joy in seeing my son as a person to be served. I delight in loving my God through loving him.
And it is such a gift, an honour, to grow in humility this way. It’s a beautiful thing to die to self and live unto Christ amid naps and diapers and burp cloths and baths. It’s a struggle and an incredible joy — it’s the essence of motherhood.
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