I've been a mother now for nearly a year. Surviving the first year of a new baby's life is astronomical.
We have managed to survive a 43-hour labour and an emergency caesarean, sleep deprivation like nothing you can ever imagine, tears on days when you feel you can no longer manage, laundry and dishes that seem to magically multiply before your eyes, doctor's appointments, checks, vaccinations and keeping our baby alive.
It is a well-deserved celebration and it ought to be, for God intended for us to experience the ultimate joy of children.
The journey of motherhood so far has been as rewarding as everyone tells you; the throw-ups, trying to put your baby down to sleep for the fifth time that night, the multiple coffees as you try to make it through another hour without falling asleep on the floor and the number of bodily fluids you deal with on a daily basis. And yes, every single moment of it is worth it.
It is worth seeing her smile—from first a toothless grin, to a crooked smile of uneven teeth to a full smile with teeth. It is worth it when she waves hello to you as soon as you walk in the door or greet her in the morning. It is worth her snuggling up to you and looking up like as if you mean the world to her. It is worth her wrapping her tiny fingers around mine and it is worth her falling asleep on my chest, as I embrace the moment of forever as I watch her sleep.
Motherhood and humility
But motherhood, most importantly, has taught me humility. Motherhood has taught me how much I desperately need Jesus to help me raise this tiny little soul.
When I realise that I can no longer do the things I always took for granted; sleeping anytime I want during the day, having to microwave my coffee and meals multiple times in one sitting, no longer having a shower on my own, no more spontaneous date nights—it can be very confronting and daunting.
But it is the very act of sacrificial love that I make for my daughter that makes me able to truly comprehend God's sacrificial love for us. He sacrificed His one and only Beloved Son to die for us on the cross. We can love because God loved us first (1 John chapter 4, verse 19).
God is our perfect Father
God is so good, in that He doesn't expect us or want us to go through our lives alone. He desires a relationship with us even though we are all sinners and undeserving of His love.
He sees us the way I see my own daughter, that nothing she ever does will make me love her any less or more. God's love for us goes beyond what we can ever imagine, because if we as imperfect people can love so purely, how much greater must be the love of a perfect Father and God?
There are days where I feel like I've reached my absolute limit, but God provides and gives me more so I can give my daughter more. It's like the parable of Jesus feeding five thousand people in Matthew chapter 14, verses 13-21. There were only five loaves of bread and two fish, and yet God gave more and more until five thousand people were fed. On the days that demand everything of my heart and soul, and I am hopeless with exhaustion, God gives me more.
God's grace is enough
Motherhood has humbled me, and knowing that I can rely on Jesus for strength and grace, I am equipped to give my daughter more than I can ever provide alone.
Before I became a mother, I was desperately selfish. I wanted a lot of time to myself, to do what I wanted, when I wanted. I found pleasure in things like shopping, eating out a few times a night and didn't feel like I needed God very much in my life.
Motherhood brought me to a whole new level of stripping of self and creating a new me. From someone who always needed expected a clean and tidy house, I learned to live with mess. In fact, I learned to enjoy the mess, because I know mess meant my daughter was having fun. From someone who always needed control and routine, I learned to expect the unexpected, that nothing in parenthood was a formula.
But most importantly, I learned to rely on God more than ever before, because before my daughter is my daughter, she is first and foremost God's beloved child before mine. God created her and He knows her best.
I now truly know what the grace of God means; because it is by His grace I am saved. And nothing I can do will change God's unconditional love for me.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia and works part-time as a Research Assistant. She also owns a cake business, Lollicakes. She is currently studying to be an Early Childhood Educator. www.lollicakes.com.au
Clarissa Yates' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html