They say that a mother forgets the true pain of labor, thus the reason she does it again and again. I think the opposite is true. The more children you have, the more you remember.
I’m almost a “pro” at having kids (if there ever were such a thing). I’ve done this a few times, and it feels familiar. I’ve spent around three out of the last six years pregnant, literally. By the time baby girl arrives, I’ll be looking for a trophy with the title “Most Deserving of an Award for Enduring 36 Months of Pregnancy”.
I have friends who long for this and struggle, and I am not deaf to how I sound. I get to do this. I get to carry children and birth them, and I don’t know how I’m so lucky. And I see you, friends. Your names are often in my prayer journals.
This has felt like the hardest pregnancy yet, in different ways than the past three. The last two weeks alone I wish to forget sooner rather than later. My own body has forced me to lay in bed for most of the last week. I’ve been crying out of frustration, but also trying to hold back tears because crying makes the pain of a migraine even worse. I’ve been confined to my thoughts as I rest, thinking of how much of an incredible blessing and burden it is to carry a child, one that we do out of pure love and most often with steadfast strength and dignity.
Those of us who get to be mothers, be it by birth, by adoption, by foster care, by a distance: this is the bittersweet work we get to do.
It is bitter and harsh and painful. Getting these children in our arms can feel like a battle. Loving them is easy, but keeping them isn’t always so. Some days we wake up and wonder why God chose us or sometimes, why He didn’t. Why we lost when we fought so hard to win. They don’t always love us back in the ways we want, and we don’t always love them in the way we planned. We say things we regret, we cringe over the bad habits they pick up, and we wonder where we failed so miserably when all we wanted was to love them in the first place.
But it is sweet. Sweeter than most any other thing in this life. Even when we fail to parent them in the perfect way to produce “perfect” children, we don’t stop trying. We don’t give up. We wake up and know the day might be painful and difficult, but we rise anyways. We kiss them and hug them hard because we remember how hard it was to get them here in the first place. We laugh with them and teach them, and we hear them say, “Mommy, I wuv you,” and it isn’t so bitter. It isn’t about us at all. It’s about pouring out the love we have, the wisdom we know, and teaching them to run. The bittersweet part is letting them go when we fought to get them here.
Often we sacrifice and often we receive nothing in return. We cry. We get angry. We anguish over empty arms or weep over the kids who have left them. But the Lord is kinder to us still, even if we don’t believe it.
Why this pregnancy is so difficult right now: I don’t know. Why our prayers sometimes feel unanswered: I don’t know. Why life and motherhood can feel much more bitter than sweet: I don’t know.
I’ll keeping going back to the Bible and rereading the scriptures until they are what is fresh in my mind. I’ll take it like medicine to ease the pain of what I feel today as I await the moment when it is no more. For this is fleeting. I don’t want to forget what matters.