Seeking The Fruits Of Motherhood

Posted by on Aug 29, 2011 in Parenting | 25 comments

Three weeks after my first child was born, my uncle leaned towards my husband, Mike, over the dinner table.

“It would be nice,” he said, “to see something positive on Lisa’s blog about the baby.”

This comment was directed at Mike because I wasn’t actually at the dinner table with everyone else; I was sitting on the couch with my breast firmly planted in the mouth of the small and needy mammal that was under discussion. And the reason I was sitting on the couch was because the little mammal had been almost inconsolable after we fed him just before leaving for dinner, let him sleep for 20 minutes in the car, and then woke him up by carrying him inside. When he started to scream and I went looking for the pacifier, I discovered that we’d left it at home and I was the only effective pacifier available. Parent fail.

Mike and I talked about my uncle’s comment driving home that night.

“Do people actually think I’m serious when I say things like, ‘Last night I almost left the baby in a basket at a bus stop’?” I asked him.

“You haven’t put that on the blog, have you?” Mike asked.

“No,” I said. “I only said it to our obstetrician. And maybe a couple of people from church.”

“I think most people know you’re not serious,” Mike said. “But perhaps a few are a bit worried by your flippancy.”

“When you’re still recovering from a difficult birth, you are suddenly responsible for a small being who sucks up every shred of time and attention you have to offer, you’re running on less than four hours of sleep a night, and you’re facing the prospect of yet another month apart from your husband when he returns to Laos early,” I said, “it’s sometimes easier to see the negative than the positive.”

“Well, have you had positive moments during the last week?” Mike asked.

“Of course!” I said, a bit shocked that he even had to ask. “I love lying sandwiched between the two of you when you’re both sound asleep. I love feeling Dominic settle into my shoulder with that happy little sigh – all warm and suddenly limp – when he’s milk-drunk. I love watching you talking to him so tenderly as you scoop him out of my arms to take him off and change him. I especially love knowing that I don’t have to change him that time.”

“Maybe you should push yourself a little,” Mike said. “Write about some of those moments. Make it a spiritual discipline to identify and articulate the positive in motherhood.”

I thought about this later that night while I was feeding Dominic again at 9PM. Then I thought about it at 3AM. And again at 4:30 when he started stirring and grunting less than half an hour after I’d put him back in his bed, at 4:45 when I brought him into bed with us, and at 5:15 when he started wailing and I had to get up and feed him again. It was not a night packed full of positive moments. In fact, by 6AM, I was tempted to leave the baby in a basket at a bus stop.

But maybe, I thought, this is where the spiritual discipline part comes in.

The name Dominic means “of our Lord”, and I’ve been startled during these early weeks of his life by how often my thoughts have turned into prayers while I’ve been feeding him. There is something about being up in the wee dark hours that nudges my mind toward friends and family, toward the blessings and challenges of life. And all this midnight praying has made me think of Bible verses that I memorized in younger days.

One that came to mind that evening was Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

That night I decided to try something new this year – to take a different word from that verse in Galatians as my theme of the month. I would seek to find that theme, to live it, and I would write about how that word was playing out in mothering, marriage, and the miscellaneous of life. I would purposefully seek the positive. And I would mostly refrain from joking about leaving the baby in a basket at a bus stop.

Mostly.

Help me out here as I start to think this through. What helps you be purposefully positive in your life?

PS. For those few of you who are concerned that I may actually leave the baby in a basket at a bus stop, never fear. If I do I’ll wrap him up nice and warm, just like this…

Photo credit: Mike, day six, minding Dominic while hanging out the laundry

You may also like:

Related posts:

The pursuit of happiness (Part 1)
Eviction Notice: Baby, You're Served
Dear Dad, Love Dominic (A letter for Father's Day)

25 Comments

  1. I am very excited about this series. Not because I think you aren’t having lots of positive moments with the new little man in your life, but because all of us need practice in this area. I think we can all be encouraged as you walk us through the fruit of the Spirit. Oh and I loved the middle of the night feedings when it felt like me and the baby were the only ones awake in the world. Be encouraged, it won’t last long in the scheme of life. Love you honey. Oh and I DON’T take you seriously when you say you’re going to leave him in a basket for any passerby to have!

    • Thanks, Bobbie. Yeah, it’s good to seek balance in life, methinks. And it’s good for that to show up in writing too, I suspect. So glad you don’t take me seriously when I say I’m going to leave him out – good to know that you know that much of what I say should definitely not be taken seriously :).

  2. It’s a trying time! I totally get it. You’re just one of the few that speaks the passing thought. Yesterday I thought about leaving Andrew with Aaron and running away from home so I could get a moment to myself!

    I like the story behind Dominic’s name. Beautiful.

    • Thanks, Sally… and the latest photos of your little guy on the blog are pretty darn cute. Hopefully a preview of coming attractions for us. I am looking forward to when he starts smiling.

  3. I definitely remember those feelings. It is a really difficult time. It is hard to remember exactly what I thought in amongst all the screaming, sleeplessness and excruciating breastfeeding that were Anna’s early days- but most of it wasn’t positive at all. I remember just wanting to return her to the hospital.
    To get me through it, I posted a piece of paper on the fridge entitled “Wonderful things about Anna”, and when I had a positive moment (like seeing the way her toes curled for instance), I would write it on the list. I still keep one of these lists for each girl and here I write all those little things and funny sayings that I want to remember. The list transformed from a way of getting through some really rough times to a wonderful memory that I’m going to keep to remind me of these days 🙂

    I just wanted to say: hang in there, you’re doing great. It’s going to get better. Well done you on finding a positive to get out of a negative, I’m really looking forward to reading your work. We are with you in spirit 🙂 hang in there and lots of love, Amy 🙂

    • I loved this example Amy, it’s really beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing and I hope all is going well for you four down south.

  4. It was Day 3 of unpacking, I turned up at my Mum’s house with the boys still in their pyjamas, and I told Mum that unless she took Noah, I was tying him up out in the backyard.
    Last night, I had 2 babies in bed with me on at least 5 separate occassions, and I am pretty sure the eldest was conning us 50% of the time.
    It can be really hard to be positive sometimes as a mother. Whether you’re a new mother, a mother-to-2, or a mother going through some life transition (moving countries for instance). But then I hear that little voice pipe up with, “Mummy! Beau & I really love you!”
    I help myself be purposefully positive, especially on days when Noah is at risk of being tied up out the backyard, by reading the little notes of conversations I have had with Noah which I often put on FB. By looking at the photos of him over the last 2.5 yrs & Beau for the last 7 months (you never take photos of a negative moment…well almost never). I read a parenting book which helps me know all mother’s go through this.
    Its hard, its tough, it hurts, you scream, and cry. Thinking of you Lisa!

    • Awesome. I could almost hear you saying that about Noah. And I could almost hear Noah saying that he and Beau really love you. Thanks so much for sharing what you do to stay positive too. Really cool.

  5. HI Lisa,

    Just want to say that this has been very encouraging for me. Your endeavor to be real with struggles that seem impossible, yet striving to the spiritual discipline of purposeful positivity! Disciplines are there to make us better stronger people so I have no doubt u r on your road towards these fruits.

    Hang in there with Dominic, motherhood sounds super scary and intense but definitely sounds fulfilling and enriching!

    Take care and thinking of you and Mike!

    • And I forgot to answer your question… I recounting the blessings God has placed in my life and how he has been around in all the critical moments. With that assurance, I remember that He will be with me for what lies ahead!

      Looking forward to your thoughts in purposeful positivity!

      • Thank you! Yes, focusing on blessings can be hugely helpful to me too – gratitude is such an attitude-reorienter. Mostly :). Hope you’re well and Mike says hello.

  6. You are a wonderful mother. I love your blog because it deals with truth — with life as it really is. Good and bad. Aaaand . . . to answer your question, I have just stared doing lovingkindness meditations every day. It helps.

    • Yay for that. And, never fear, both the good and the bad will continue to show up here on the blog.

  7. Lisa…to your ever evolving roles of new mother…wife, friend, daughter…
    and blogger that bring us inspiration, tears of laughter and pause to reflect on life’s changes and blessings! Your Dominic’s photo in the basket brought smiles. You and Mike are wonderful parents and help others by sharing in your journey. I am passing along the link to my nephew and his wife, new parents two weeks ago as well! All the best. Hope you get more rest tonight. Hang in there. Your honesty and humor is uplifting to us all.

    • Thanks, Sandra. I hope they enjoy, I’ve loved reading the reflections of other new parents.

  8. The thing that hit me hardest as a new mom was probably realizing how incredibly selfish I was/am. My battle with selfishness came/comes with every mothering task that I don’t want to do. Like feedings at 2:30 am, followed by feedings at 4:15 am, cleaning ground-in crayons out of the carpet, patiently discplining and so on…
    Every time I inwardly grumble, I remind myself that I have to fight being selfish…and in doing do, I suppose I become more purposefully positive… It is a constant battle though. I do think that such a mental exercise does make things easier over time as I recognize internal warning signs much quicker these days…

    • Yes, this whole thing with selfishness is something I’ve already been thinking a lot about. It’s definitely a much harder test than getting married ever was – or anything else I’ve done, for that matter. Glad to hear things are getting easier on your end.

  9. As a mother of four, grandmother of eight, I think your uncle (being male and all) may suffer from the disability known colloquially among us women as, I’m-male-and-I’ve-never-been-a-mother-itis. Your comments do not worry me, Lisa, not in the least. I know you and I know you have lived a pretty exciting adulthood, that you’re competent at many things that others wonder at. Motherhood is something we’re supposed to just do, with just about zero training. The later we get going on it, the more likely we are to wriggle at the tethers of it all. They’re tough tethers and we they do bind a bit, especially when we’re also terribly sleep-deprived and what new mother isn’t?

    All to say, carry on being you, Lisa. Be positive, be negative, be truthful above all. And keep on with the fab fotos, please. You’re doing a great job.

    I pray your uncle/male relatives will accept my apologies… You are a woman suffering from or elated by (depends, right?) estrogen poisoning. That’s another teensy tiny temperament inflamer.

    Be as good to you as you’re being to the hims in your household.

    With a hug,
    s.

    • Thanks, Sandra. Love your line about the tethers. So true. And the zero training! The little guy is sound asleep at the moment though, so life is seeming more manageable. You know, right this minute, anyway :).

  10. No parent (esp mums) would ever think you serious about leaving said baby in basket. We’ve all had the same/similar (swap out homeless guy for hospital with note attached saying that you are enacting the warranty clause and returning said parcel within 90 days) thought(s). 🙂

    Things that get me through –
    a) “this too shall pass”
    b) Knowing that 4am in Colorado is 8p in Brisbane – perfect for ringing my mother. 🙂
    c) Knowing I am loved and supported by many, near and far.
    d) Learning to know/acknowledge what I don’t know is the quickest way to getting the answer/help/knowledge.

    I agree with Sandra, the most important thing is to be you and ask for help/advice when you need it. The myth states motherhood comes naturally. The instinct to protect, maybe. But the fine details needed to be learned. You three are part of dance. Like dancing with your feet, it takes A LOT of communication and coordination. 🙂

    I love your blog. You make me snort tea out my nose, to ponder and reflect. Usually within the same paragraph. THAT is gift. xoxo

    • Thanks Simone, what a great list. Yeah, I think I’ll be doing the skype thing to my mum on a regular basis when I’m back in laos and alone in the house with the little guy. She’s been holding him lots this last couple of days since Mike left. There are definitely some advantages to village living!! Also loved your comment about the dance – it’s sparked a thought I’ll write about in some future post. Hope you guys are really well.

  11. What helps me a lot during this sleep-deprived time is the knowledge that it will be over soon. Every day brings us closer to the sweet sleep-through-the-night time!

    • Yes, at the moment I’m counting the days until Mike returns, my bet is that’ll happen before we reach that magic place of sleep through the night, but maybe Dominic will surprise me.

  12. I understand wanting to scream when you can’t sleep and someone (your child) else wants something else from you.. and you just don’t have it to give… with me, for me, it’s not about babies, it’s about the opposite of babies. In a way, from where I look, although I understand the stress so! i am thinking, baby fills the cup with love, and empties it again… only to fill it up with just one smile. For those of us who have walked this earth mostly alone, it looks like a pretty good deal (without wanting to diminish your feelings at all!). xo Christina

    • Hi Christina! Welcome. And you’re right about the amazing power of baby smiles, I really like the way you put that. This particular post was written before Dominic started smiling at about 4 or 5 weeks, and I think that next time (if there is a next time) this early stage may be easier because I understand more about what’s coming.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Love the feeling, love the action | Wandering. Wondering. Writing. - [...] post is part of a series on the fruits of the spirit. The current theme is [...]
  2. What is the most important quality in a marriage? | Wandering. Wondering. Writing. - [...] post is part of a series on the fruits of the spirit. The current theme is [...]
  3. On feeling joy-less | Wandering. Wondering. Writing. - [...] is an unhappy sort of irony that ever since I switched the theme of my fruits of the spirit…
  4. Conversations in hospitals | Lisa McKay Writing - [...] think I should quit the fruits of the spirit project,” I [...]
  5. Peace Like A River | Lisa McKay Writing - [...] Seeking the fruits of motherhood [...]
  6. Heading back toward normal | Lisa McKay Writing - [...] blog and you’re wondering why on earth Dominic’s cast is decorated the way that it is, read this. T’is…
  7. In which I say I’m a good mother | Lisa McKay Writing - [...] Seeking the fruits of motherhood [...]
  8. Conversations in hospitals | LisaMcKayWriting - [...] think I should quit the fruits of the spirit project,” I [...]
  9. On feeling joy-less | LisaMcKayWriting - [...] Laos | 18 comments It is an unhappy sort of irony…
  10. The Most Versatile Word in the English Language | LisaMcKayWriting - [...] post is part of a series on the fruits of the spirit. The current theme is love. Digg…
  11. Love the feeling, love the action | LisaMcKayWriting - [...] by Lisa on Sep 16, 2011 in Parenting | 8 comments…
  12. Searching for silver in storm clouds | LisaMcKayWriting - [...] by Lisa on Aug 1, 2012 in Miscellaneous | 11 commentsIt’s been ages since I wrote a post in…

Leave a Reply