“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone
…I normally don’t like kicking off my blog posts with words from someone else, but when I thought about the sentiment behind this one, this quote continued to run through my head over and over. In just a few days, I have to return to work after what has been the most transformative four months of my life, and I won’t sugarcoat it: I am heartbroken.
I have to acknowledge that having this much time at home with sweet Harper is a blessing beyond belief, and I know that many of you reading this were not nearly as fortunate to have such an extensive maternity leave. I totally get that, and my heart breaks for any and every mom that faces the challenge of feeling like she doesn’t have enough time with her kid (which is pretty much all of us, right?). But even with that, no amount of time will ever seem like enough… and as I try to mentally and emotionally prepare to leave Harper for 8+ hours each day, my heart feels so tender and helpless.
The day after Harper was born, we went through a night where she was cluster feeding and she was *literally* keeping us up non-stop because all she wanted to do was eat. Finally, in the middle of the night when I had gone almost a full 24 hours without sleep, our nurse came in and I think she saw the look of desperation on my face — so she offered to take Harper to the nursery for an hour or two so I could get some sleep. I quickly agreed, but the moment that she rolled Harper out of the room and the door shut, I started crying. A lot. Because it was the first time that we had EVER been separated after 9 months of feeling her grow inside of me, and it felt like part of me was gone. I had never felt anything like that before, and it hit me hard.
Fast forward these four months later, and yes — I have relinquished the tiniest bit of control and allowed family to watch her for an hour or two. But when I think about going back to work, my emotions go back to that night in the hospital: She is my heart. God has chosen me as her mother. How do I let her go?
I’m so very grateful for an amazing mom who showed me by example that just because a decision is hard doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. I think about her returning to work after being a stay-at-home mom for almost a decade, and she did it because she knew that our family desperately needed it. It isn’t until now, though, that I can see just how incredibly difficult it must have been to choose the hard thing. To make the choice that would ultimately benefit her children, even if it stung like hell in the moment; to serve as the “living sacrifice” that God calls us to be as mothers now and then.
This one is going to sting. And as I read through this post, I know I’m using words and analogies that feel so dramatic, but it is all so real. Just like with anything else, we’ll find our routine and we’ll move forward, and with it will come all kinds of much-needed lessons that God has intended for us all along. But you know what? It’s okay if I can’t genuinely absorb that right now. I am so grateful that we serve a loving God, who is present with us in our hurting just as much as in our joy. So for now, I’m just going to be hurt. And allow the rest to be what it is.
As I’ve continued to pray about this transition, what has become most clear to me is that I cannot allow my joy to be rooted in my circumstances — it has to be rooted in God alone. He will sustain us through whatever may come, and if we are rooted in His promises, we can’t be broken. It is so hard to discipline myself in this when all I want to do is convince myself that this situation is unfair — but God’s grace goes beyond my selfishness and misunderstanding, and proves greater each and every time. His grace, His power, His love… it’s greater than my hurting. And I will rest on that today, and in a few days when I return to work, and in the many years to come when we go through various challenges. He is greater.
Lastly, to my sweet Harper, I will always hold on to the memories that we have gotten to create every day over these past few months, and I can’t wait for the many more that are to come. I don’t know how you walk around with your heart outside of your body, learning and growing to become its own, but one thing is for sure: I will gladly take that on if it means you are able to thrive. God sent His Son to die for us so that we might have life, and as a parent that truth is even more heart-wrenching. But His love is greater. And for now, that’s all I know to hold onto.
Wish me luck, friends! ..and even though I cried while picking out each and every one of these, I couldn’t end this one without pictures of the sweetest babe: