I never wanted to be a mom. I’ve never been good with kids. I’ve never swooned over babies. It’s just something I always knew I would be OK without. I was miserable through my entire first pregnancy. I was sick every single day for sixteen weeks. I couldn’t eat or drink what I wanted, and my body was going haywire. I never called my baby by name or felt attached to her. I worried I never would. I spent the entire third trimester crying. I mourned the loss of my youth, my independence, my very young marriage. I cried for all the adventures I wouldn’t have, for all the freedom that was lost. Up until the minute my daughter was placed in my arms, I absolutely dreaded motherhood.

I didn’t dread it because I wasn’t grateful for the tiny life kicking inside of me. I was grateful. I’d witnessed enough longing and loss to know what an enormous blessing my baby was. No, gratitude was not the problem–fear was.

I was terrified that I couldn’t do it, that something in me didn’t function properly and I would never be that mom. I hadn’t dreamed of being a mom. I never played house with my dolls; I didn’t even have dolls. I hadn’t spent my pregnancy counting kicks or dreamily gazing at babies in public. I didn’t know how to care for a baby. I didn’t know how to be a mom. Then the moment came when the nurse placed my daughter on my chest, and when I looked at her for the first time my entire being shattered.

Everything that I’d been clinging so tightly to, all my ideas of who I was and what freedoms I needed to be happy, cracked into a million pieces. In that moment all I knew was that I knew so much less about myself and the world than I thought. That tiny little baby broke me down in every way imaginable, and she’s spent every day of the last three years building me back up. That’s the thing about motherhood, it will wreck you. It will take everything you thought you needed to be happy, but it will make and give you so much more.

If you should love that which makes you stronger, that which challenges you to be the best version of yourselves, then motherhood is at the top of my list. I was afraid being a mom would just be putting a parade of my inadequacies. Instead, it is the thing that makes me show up everyday and be better than I think I’m capable of. I was afraid being a mom would rob me of the chance to chase my dreams. What I’ve learned is that my babies give those dreams so much more significance. I was afraid that my shortcomings would make me kids resent me. In reality they show me every minute of every day exactly what unconditional love looks like.

I’ve loved a lot of things in my life, but nothing has taken my heart and soul by surprise like being a mom. Loving my babies has worked its way into every crevice of my being. Loving my babies has taught me what love is. It’s showing up. It’s meeting someone where they are. It’s being faithful to challenge and push. It’s wiping away tears and clapping for victories.

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