The moment that one decides to become a parent. . .actually, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the moment one decides to become a mother. . . okay, I’ll speak for myself. The moment that I decided to become a mother, I felt like I gave myself over to the “experts”. The best way to breastfeed. The best way to get my infant to sleep for more than an hour straight. The best way to communicate with your husband about parenting, household duties, etc. The best way to lose the baby weight. I no longer saw myself as a reliable enough source. And although sometimes I did a pretty good job filtering the unsought advice, and my son is still alive, sleeping through the night, and showing promising evidence of me not totally messing up this whole parenting gig. . . I now realize, that was only Phase One.
Phase One was the “keep him alive” phase. Where in all my sleep deprivation and new parenting confusion, I kept myself motivated by uttering the phrase, “just keep him alive”. This tiny little human that depended on his parents to, well. . .KEEP HIM ALIVE! There was lots of prayer…Lots of crying…Lots of happy tears… And now I can proudly say that I have made it through Phase One! Only to come to the realization that, there’s more! Phase Two!
Sometimes in my anxiety and worry-filled days, I wish I could go back to Phase One. Where my biggest worries were: should I introduce green veggies first or orange ones? Or whether my newborn’s poop was the right color and texture. I was totally not mentally prepared for my little baby to be his own little person so fast. He knows just enough to have his own personality and opinions, but not enough for me to know that he is unaffected by my choices, and sometimes my mess ups. Phase Two is completely just as stressful as Phase One, not only because I still have to make sure that he stays alive, but that I don’t totally mess him up in the process!
I know that my influence will only be, well . . . influential, for a designated time, until he becomes his own person, with his own life. But Phase Two was way more stressful when I hadn’t accepted that my son, is also God’s son. He has me, and he has his dad, but he also has a Heavenly Father, that loves him way more than I ever could (which was hard for me to come to realize). That I could only do so much and there would come a time when my faith would be put to the test in this area of my life, and I would just have to trust God. Trust God that I did the best that I knew how, and trust that although there would come a time when my child wouldn’t have his parents, constantly aware of all his choices, attitudes and life changing decisions and milestones, that he would always have that relationship with God to hold him accountable, praise him, discipline him and influence him.
There’s always this verse:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
And then there’s always the worrier in me saying. . . But what if he does stray? Phase Two is critical in developing my child’s faith, his character, his personality. He is not even two, guys. And I’m stressing out about the type of person, husband, friend, father, worker, he is going to become and how I only have a designated amount of time to influence him and teach him. I think the stress I put on myself comes from wanting my children to know God their whole lives, the way I came to know him in my 20s. Oh, how it would’ve impacted many decisions I made based solely on my own foolish understanding. But hey! I am right where I am meant to be, living the life that I am meant to live, with the people that I am meant to live it with. I believe that with my whole heart, mainly because earlier this week I was encouraged to study how my life up until now, has been preparing me for this exact life that I am living.
Luckily, I have learned, I don’t have to do it alone. I am not perfect, but He is. I have messed up in my past, but He hasn’t. I have been wishy-washy in my faith, but He remains consistent and true. I haven’t always been this faith filled (and there is way more room for improvement!) Yes, I was raised knowing God, but I didn’t put all my trust into Him. I didn’t rely on Him more than my own understanding. I didn’t understand the power of prayer. I didn’t see His plan or me as more valuable than my own plan for myself. Some have seen this change in me as a “brainwash”, but I like to look at it more as a growth. A transformation. An evolution. An enlightenment. A complete renewal that is helping me get through all of these phases of not only motherhood, but life. And if I try to spend my time now, worrying about all the phases to come, I will be sacrificing precious time. Precious time with my child, to share with him this overflow of love that I feel from my “brainwashing”. Precious time with my husband, who was given to me, for me to walk beside as we take this life on together, and enjoy it. For us to do our best through these parenting phases where we rarely have alone time and cherish them. Because one day, it will be just the two of us in our home again, and although I would like to say that I hope we would be beaching it up somewhere, soaking up the sun and relaxing, I know that there will be times when we will wish we were going through Phase Two again, and we will never get this time back.
So back to my original question. . .Can I get through Phase Two (without being overcome with anxiety)? Yes! But not alone. And not only will I “get through” it, but I will LOVE it, CHERISH it, PROTECT it and NURTURE it because before we know it, we will be onto the challenges of Phase Three, looking back on Phase Two and thinking it was a piece of cake.