Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Grace for Mothering

Since I'm on a self-deprecating streak, I'll keep it going.

My immediate postpartum period was very difficult, as I've alluded to. Zuzu wanted to be picked up, she was constantly following me around the house begging, "hol' me! hol' me!" At first, it made me cry - she just wants to be held and I can't pick her up! Then I began to get frustrated - I just held you for an hour, sheesh. And two weeks ago, I just got mad. 

I was mad because all I could see was what I did for her, every day: made her meals, changed her diapers, spent time talking to her, cuddled her down for naps and bedtime, read to her while I nursed David. I knew we weren't getting as much one-on-one time as before, but hey, life wasn't so different. And she was being crazy whiny. I was hitting my breaking point - at one point, I even...yelled. 

At my low point, I was just angrily staring at her thinking, "what more could you POSSIBLY want from me??"

Deep breath.


We went on a short trip to Orlando last week to see my parents. On the drive I was mulling over my suddenly horrific relationship with my first-born, wondering where it all went wrong, and what exactly my angel-turned-demon child wanted from me. 

And then it hit me: she was telling me. She was telling me exactly what she needed and I was refusing to listen to her. She would say "hol' me" and I would say "not right now," since I was cleaning or cooking. She would say, "read to me!" and I would say "in a minute" because I was enjoying a few minutes of blog-reading while nursing David. She would ask "nurse me?" and I would say no, because it wasn't one of our standard nursing times before David came and I wanted her to be nursing less, not more. 

My list of priorities looked something like this: 
- David
- Tom
- household

And she knew. Despite me doing so many things just as we had before, she knew I was doing them perfunctorily; I was rushing through activities to get to something else, doing them to pacify her. I was not relishing my time with her anymore - and she knew that. She was begging for more of me because I wasn't giving her any of me in the first place. 

I don't know how this happened or why, except that I'm human and concupiscence is real. In that moment, I realized I had to repent - and I did. I asked God to give me a heart for my daughter again; deep and overflowing love and compassion for her. I told Tom about all of this and we agreed we needed to be better - more self-donative, more giving, more aware of her meeting her emotional needs. 

toddler-aided selfies

We've been home for four days and she's been sick, so her neediness level has been way up. I can't say I've been perfect, but I'm definitely getting better. When I'm not better, I apologize - to my two-year-old, which is supremely humbling. Today, she kicked over a vase of flowers and scream/whined as I cleaned them up; I yelled at her. Immediately, I realized that although she wasn't right to do what she did, me having my own temper tantrum wasn't helping. I pulled her onto my lap, and said gently, I'm sorry I yelled at you. She nodded through her tears and whispered, I'm sorry I was naughty. I was startled; I hadn't asked for an apology. I forgive you, I said and she smiled up at me, I forgive you too. Then she fell asleep in my arms. 

And that's what grace looks like lately at my house.

Family love at DGO's baptism! 


  1. This is why I always love your blog Martha! You are so honest and loving.

    I had a very similar struggle with my first, after my second was born. It's HARD juggling a newborn and a toddler and it's hard to remember that the toddler is still just a baby themselves.

    I just love your post about pouring more love into her and donating yourself. It's just so beautiful and such a change from the way the world sees misbehavior (as though the whininess and clinginess must be "punished" out of a child rather than "loved" out of them).

    1. Thank you so much - your comment means so much to me. I really struggle being honest in blogging in terms of being more personally vulnerable - this post was actually hard for me to write because I am so embarrassed at my own stupidity and hard-heartedness.

      It IS a change from how most people - aka, ME - see misbehavior. And I have to keep reminding myself of this, which is so silly, because as soon as I begin to practice this, I see results - she almost immediately becomes more cooperative, more loving, etc. Even when I get instant gratification, it takes me a while to get it! Thank goodness for confession and the God of second (third, fourth, etc.) chances.


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