I never knew what it was like to have my heart live on the outside of my body until I had Serena. There is no way to prepare for the feeling of soul-crushing love. It’s a depth and breadth I never knew existed.
I didn’t cry when she was born. I figured I would weep uncontrollably, but I think the chaos of the birth experience kept me in a detached surreal state of mind. Like I was looking at this scene of me and my baby and my husband from above. All around us is quiet and still while the nurses hustle around us, performing their tasks like worker bees.
There never was that ah-ha moment, like wow, we’re parents. It’s a daily awakening. A daily revelation that this daughter is a part of us.
I thought when I had a child, I would feel more of a sense of ownership over her every trait, but what I’ve found instead is I’m standing back in awe of her—that every part of her was created by an Almighty Creator and I am merely serving as her guide.
Sometimes I look back on the pregnancy and birth and feel almost like it wasn’t me. Like how could I have done something so life altering? How could she have been ushered into this world and into eternity from Keith’s and my choosing? It’s outside of our realm of knowing; outside of our realm of understanding. It’s really outside of our capabilities that this precious soul lives and breathes and is starting to understand her residency on this earth.
Becoming a mother has been by far the hardest and most painstaking thing I’ve ever done. I want to cry most days (and I'm not a crier). My life feels so fragile, yet my husband says I’ve never been stronger. Sometimes I long for the days before her. When I could just be me; when my heart only beat in my own chest; when my every decision didn’t have such massive consequences. The weight was a little less. Now it impales my chest every day. She crushes me with every smile. She crushes me with her coos and with new discoveries. She crushes me when she looks at me and really knows who I am. That is the soul crushing work of becoming a mother. To know this is to understand another grand part of the human experience. It’s another piece of the puzzle of being an eternal creature: creating an eternal being.
"That is the soul crushing work of becoming a mother."
How crazy that we get this honor and privilege? That God entrusts us with it? That parenthood is appointed and ordained within us? How amazing is it that we get to walk out the journey of molding and raising a small human and that Keith and I are her biggest influencers in life. It’s terrifying. And humbling. And equally empowering. Some days I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. My house is a mess (and I’m type A!), my thoughts are scattered, I don’t have food on the table and I put my shirt on inside out (all the time!) But then I look at Serena’s face and she smiles and giggles and I think we must be doing something really right too. She trusts us with all of her. She depends on us for everything. We are her lifeline. I cannot wait to hear her first small words. For her to look into my eyes and tell me that she loves me.
I could probably die happy in that moment.
And then I will look back on all the pain and suffering. All the extreme exhaustion beyond my body’s limits, the mental strain, the emotional highs and lows, the spiritual fatigue and think that it was all worth it.
Something this hard has to be worth it, right? That’s how this world works. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the reward. The greater the understanding, the greater the human experience.
My love for my daughter grows and grows. Like a live oak, my love stretches its branches and digs its roots deep into rich soil. I will give her everything I can. I will stand firm for her. I will give her shade in the heat of the day. I will let her rest her head on my trunk and feel safe to grow.
How much more do I want to fight for what’s right! How much more do I want to help create a world that is more worthy for her to live in! I know I can’t protect her from everything, but I do want to equip her. Equip her to be a fighter. To be bold in a world that is shackled in fear. To chase out darkness, and bring light to every empty corner.
Just like her namesake, she will bring peace and tranquility wherever she goes. How much the world needs this! She will be victorious in every battle. Love will be her battle cry and we will show her the source of true love.
These lives are not our own. My heart is not my own. It beats in her chest. With every beat, it’s a beautiful harmony. To know my daughter is the closest to heaven and hell that I’ve ever experienced. But for that slice of heaven…
It takes my breath away.
Photo credit: Katrina Marie Photography
Shelley's Inkwell blog is where non-fiction and fiction collide. It's a place for my life reflections and a place to escape into some really good stories.