There are times in the rare quiet moments that I reflect on motherhood thus far. Yep all 7 and a half months of it. I quickly realize how blessed it has been and how fortunate I am to have had the experiences I’ve had so far. I already see a village growing up around my little family and I could not be more thrilled. In truth I knew I wanted to surround myself and our new bundle with other mamas and babies before Hazel was born, but I never imagined it would happen the way it did. My basket feels so full right now!
My family is 4 hours West and when I first got pregnant I had time to get myself worked up about how there would be little help to keep our nugget alive…I mean of course I had my sweet husband by my side eager to face this journey with me, but if we are being real he knew as much as me…basically nothing. I went through my pregnancy preparing as much as I could. We took the classes, read about possible issues we could encounter, prepared baby’s room, washed the clothes, talked to family, etc. We were ready…well as ready as we could get without baby in hand.
Then she came. She was perfect, sweet, and of course came without an instruction book. Thankfully our trio had lots of support for the first two weeks. First it was the mom brigade…my mom cooked us healthy, delicious meals and Kyle’s mom cleaned our home until it sparkled. They let us sleep, they helped us field problems, and they encouraged us! Then there was my husband. He stayed home the first couple weeks and he was INCREDIBLE! He made sure I ate, urged me to shower each day and take care of myself, made sure there was ice water within a hands reach, gave me three hour naps, and called the lactation consultant for a home visit when breastfeeding reduced me to tears. Yea those first few weeks were fuzzy eyed, basket filling, perfection despite the pain, uncertainty, and sleeplessness.
The first weeks turned into a month, my husband was back to work and the family had come and gone. I was alone with my new baby. I started to second guess every choice I made for her. The lack of sleep started to get to me. I worried about feeding my baby enough. I fretted about the house not being spotless and about dinner not being made. I began to feel like a failure. My husband encouraged me to get out of the house and meet other mamas, something I had talked about wanting to do before bringing our child home. I, of course, resented his suggestions, made excuses, and thought to myself that he didn’t understand how difficult it was to get the baby and her trunk full of necessities out of the house. But then one day I did it.
I got Hazel bundled up and we made it to a breastfeeding support group, mostly out of absolute desperation as I was really struggling, but out is out right? I entered the room full of mamas and babies, nervous that I would be met with judgmental stares or cold faces. To my surprise and fancy that wasn’t the case. These mommies were sweet, they were helpful, they had a familiar starry eyed look on their faces. The realization set in, we were in the trenches together, sore nipples, tear streaked faces, uncertainty, and foreign squishy bodies in all. We all needed the one thing that we also had the ability to provide each other: community.
Our need for breastfeeding support has mostly faded, but our need for our village has not. My time with these mamas and babies broke my fear, opened my heart, and gave me the encouragement I was so desperately seeking. These relationships, along with my relationship with Jesus have filled me up. Confidence has returned to this tired mama and the dark cloud of loneliness and isolation has drifted past. I know God put those difficult moments in my path to humble me.
Fast forward a month to my little family sitting in church. An announcement popped up for MOPS. In the past I would have dismissed it convincing myself I didn’t need it, that it was too expensive, that friendships in that group had already formed and there was no room for me…but now I have the willingness to be vulnerable and say, “yes!”
Every mama I meet is a potential friend. I am in the circle…we are all in the circle and the circle is motherhood. It is a knowing glance across the aisle at Target while trying to choose which gripe water/diaper/wipe/pacifier/baby food is the best, the willingness to share a diaper, the look of love and encouragement when I feed my baby in public, the heartwarming smile you flash when you hear my girl sing/scream during worship at church. You fill me up! I see you mama and I want your friendship!
Over the past few weeks I have repeatedly come across the story of Jesus feeding the masses with just five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:12-17). At the end of the meal there was enough left over food to fill 12 baskets! The massive crowd had been following Jesus for days, eager to learn from him and see his miracles. They were hungry and vulnerable. This story reminds me that God’s perfect love fills us completely to the point where it overflows so we can share that bounty with each other. He meets us where we are and has the power to change it all.
My prayer is that we approach this experience hungry, humble, and ready to be filled by the Holy Spirit. I am so excited and expectant on the ways God is going to reveal himself to us during our MOPS season this year. May our spirits be satisfied by God’s bounty and may we fill each other up until our baskets overflow mamas! The beautiful thing is that it doesn’t take much to fill a basket, just you being genuine YOU!