The joy of loosing yourself in dirty diapers

[Guest Post from Adrienne Plekenpol]

“It wasn’t long in to Austin’s life that I realized the take-it-easy arrival I was hoping for wasn’t ever coming.”

The job of a mom is a big one.

It’s being intuitive and perceptive to others needs around the clock, this includes the time you’re sleeping. It’s knowing what accidents will happen and how they’ll happen, before they do. It’s having your day made because you heard a little giggle come out of your mini human for the first time. It’s being a master scheduler while simultaneously, a master of flexibility. It’s finally getting to shop in that colorful baby aisle you’ve had no business in your entire life. It’s offering love, care, nourishment, patience and discipline every minute of every day. It’s finding total delight in watching your baby roll, crawl, walk and run around your house. It’s allowing one room to be utterly destroyed so you can get the bathroom clean. It’s sacrificing all your needs and desires, making them a last priority. It’s making new friends with people who are also juggling these same responsibilities, people who also eat dinner at 5, or 5:30. And it’s eating a lot of Chick-fil-a and McDonalds, or whatever you call the nearby food place with a playground. It’s feeling deep satisfaction and peace in your soul when the screamer peacefully sleeps. It’s getting the best ever, open mouth slobber kisses, sometimes accompanied by a little snot. It’s having moments you wish would last forever. It’s also often, being a thoughtful wife who doesn’t allow all these other jobs to come ahead of her husband’s needs or marriage. It’s doing all this, and more, while getting the worst sleep of your life.

For many, many years, I had moments where I wondered when I would arrive. These moments would last up to months and were characterized by discontentment. I waited until I was 25 to be married. Rushing through every other life stage, believing marriage would bring to rest all of my anxieties, fears and loneliness. I spent fun, exciting, character developing years waiting for what was next. Wondering if the next stage would bring me to arrival in life. Something like this:

And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” (Luke 12:19)

That sounded pretty good to me. I had dreamed of this life, a take-it-easy life where there are no burdening responsibilities, no worries and few have-to’s.  A stage where I only do the things that are fun, see only the people that build me up and never need to do chores because I keep everything perfect all the time. I assumed marriage would be this. It wasn’t. So I assumed motherhood must be arrival. I mean, I always knew God wanted what was best for me. But Jesus had an entirely different mentality about this type of living:

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves, but is not rich toward God.”

Rich toward God…contentment where I am no matter the circumstances.

On this side of heaven, arrival doesn’t exist. However, contentment—now that’s another story.

It wasn’t long in to Austin’s life that I realized the take-it-easy arrival I was hoping for wasn’t ever coming.  I’m pretty sure pregnancy alone cures that mentality in most people. Although, over the last year, I have learned to let go of many things. By the grace of God, I feel contentment in my role as a mom more than I’ve ever felt contentment in any other life stage. For the first time, I’m living for others. My entire life is serving, loving and depending on God to make it happen. I’ve never been less self-focused. I enjoy taking care of myself but find I’m far less concerned with my outfit, my weight and my make-up job, my dirty car or dusty house than ever before. I have hard days that test my patience, but at the end of those, I’m no less content than I am on the great days. I find joy in knowing God has a plan for my son, that he loves Austin and this unborn baby more than I or my husband ever can. He sees the countless hours of caretaking. He gives my husband patience when mine has run out. He sends a variety of strangers (typically when Austin is in mid-tantrum) to remind me how precious this time is. He knows what my marriage needs and makes it possible for us to foster growth as a couple, making our marriage a priority. Each step of the way, he gives us wisdom on how to lead our family.  He sends friends to encourage me on the frustrating days and friends to chase children with at the playground. He sends men to offer perspective for my husband and couples for us to relate with. He provides everything our family needs. He’s been doing this my entire life. Yet so many times, I missed it. I was so focused on me, and my future, and what God would do for me later on, that I missed out on all he was doing in the moment. When you are always holding out for what’s next, life is difficult to enjoy. For me, contentment has come in losing myself, my life and my plan and trading it for what God’s doing now. That is life-changing.

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For His Glory,

Adrienne Plekenpol

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