Monday, July 22, 2013

Attitude Adjustments

So much changes when a baby joins a family, but I think some of the biggest changes of all have been in me (which I am most grateful for!).

1 - Patience

     I've never been a very patient person. Not so much in the sense that I hate waiting for things, but more that I get impatient and quickly annoyed with people when they do things that irritate me. I think this is one of my biggest character flaws and one that I know I need to work on.
     Having a baby has definitely forced me to be more patient (and hopefully not only with her, but with others too). When she is having a hard time going to sleep or is crying for some unknown reason, I don't very often find myself getting frustrated with her, which has come as a surprise to me. For some reason (maybe it's just because I'm her mom) I find it easy to be patient with her (I'm guessing this might change once we hit toddlerhood...haha), whether it's helping her get to sleep, holding her and rocking her while she cries, or putting up with her endless squealing as she learns how to use her voice. I truly hope that this more patient attitude will transfer over to my other relationships as well.

2 - Babies aren't convenient

     We live in a world that is obsessed with convenience and ease, and it can be a bit of a rude awakening when we realize that babies have their own schedules that sometimes require us to adjust our own plans. For the most part, we've been blessed with an extremely easygoing baby. It also helps that we're both the kind of people who prefer to be at home rather than out, but when we do go out, we quickly learned that a simple outing now requires a bit more planning than it used to. Not only do you have to remember to bring more stuff (diapers, wipes, soother, extra change of clothes, etc), but often the timing of outings has to be coordinated around feeding and nap times. This has definitely improved as our baby has gotten older and as we've become better adjusted to life as parents of a baby, but in those early days, it was often just easier to stay home, which sometimes meant giving up things we wanted to do.
     We also now need to consider someone else's needs before our own when making plans and sometimes that means plans get put on hold or abandoned altogether. I was out doing some errands when Tessa was about 3 or 4 weeks old. I had already been to the grocery store and she was doing great so I decided to make a quick stop at Costco. We were in the store and I already had a few things in my cart when she woke up and decided she was DONE with shopping NOW. She didn't even give me any warning, just went straight from sleeping peacefully to screaming bloody murder. I did what any other brand new 3-week-old mom would do in the middle of Costco with a screaming, inconsolable baby - I panicked. I left my cart right where it was, took my baby and got out of that store as fast as I could. I felt terrible that I had tried to cram one more thing in, because I was already on that end of town and it was convenient for me, not giving much thought to how much my newborn baby could take. Of course, I don't mean to imply that life stops when a baby comes along, but it does take on a whole new dimension - one that is hopefully much less self-centered.

3 - I GET to do this - not I HAVE to.

     I have heard about and personally know people who have lost babies, either to miscarriage, stillbirth, or illness. I also know people who have struggled with getting pregnant and being uncertain if they would even be able to have a biological child of their own. I don't pretend to know what these parents have been through, but I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who has lost a child or is struggling to have a child would give anything to have a sleepless night with a baby of their own.
     In my early weeks as a mom, I read a fabulous book that pointed out that there are no guarantees in life. There is no guarantee that we will have more children, and for that matter, there is also no guarantee that we will have tomorrow or next week with Tessa. This was a wake-up call for me when I read it, and helped to shift my mindset from "I have to..." to "I get to..." Instead of being irritated when I had to get up at 3am, I now found myself feeling grateful that I had the opportunity to do so. I began cherishing those middle-of-the-night feedings, and even though I still don't enjoy being tired, I count it a blessing that I GET to be tired because I am fortunate enough to have a precious baby to care for.

     These are just three examples of some of the major changes that have taken place in my heart since Tessa joined our family. We've both done a lot of growing these past 6 months. I am so grateful to God for the gift that she is and for His refining work in my life through her in this new season. I pray that He will continue to use her to shape me into something beautiful in His sight.

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