Remember when you had all the answers about parenting—in other words, when you were single? Then you got married, conceived your first child, and were instantly unsure of yourself. You decided you must consult the experts.
At least, that’s what happened to me. I spent my first pregnancy reading Dr. Sears and Greg and Lisa Popcak. I became a (theoretical) expert on attachment parenting. Once again, I knew just how parenting was supposed to look. I wrote up my plan for a natural childbirth. I hired a doula.
Then real life hit me. When I was two weeks overdue, with no contractions or dilation, my doctor convinced me to be induced. Three days on Pitocin, and I was only dilated to three centimeters. My ordeal “ended” in a C-section. Actually, it was just beginning.
For the first year of our marriage, I had been working while my husband Dan wrote his doctoral dissertation. He had not found a job by the time my leave of absence was over. Never even in my nightmares had I considered being a working mom, especially with an infant. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Instead of on-demand feedings, I would be nursing over my lunch hour and pumping during my breaks. Someone else (thankfully my husband and our mothers) would be raising my child, while I sat at a desk miles away.
My first day back at work, I caught a stomach virus from a co-worker. I was unable to keep anything down for three days. Our son was screaming with hunger. I was unable to fill him up on my own. Dan ran to the store and bought the dreaded formula.
Although my stomach soon was settled again and I returned to work after six extra days out, I ran a fever for two weeks straight. Even the doctor was concerned. I was still nursing the baby at night, until Dan put his foot down. I needed to take care of myself and get well. From now on, he would feed our son formula at night, while I slept. It was what I needed to do to recover, but it was another psychological blow. No more co-sleeping. Even less time with my child.
I struggled against guilt and resentment. I read Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence. And I meditated on the verse, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
“Easy?” I asked in disbelief. “Light?”
“My yoke,” I felt God was saying. “My burden.”
Then I realized I had created my own yoke and burden with my preconceived ideas about parenthood. I needed to accept God’s plan for my life, which was so different from my own. I took a deep breath and prayed, “Your will be done.”
It’s amazing how much easier life seemed after that. Going to work every day was still a yoke to bear. With no end in sight, it was still a burden. But I could carry it now without resentment, because Jesus carried it with me.
I failed at attachment parenting. But thanks to grace and a good book, I did not fail at my vocation as wife and mother. Now blessed to be able to stay home, I face new challenges. I am still learning to trust that God’s plan for my life is better than my own.
This article was originally posted on Suscipio and is used with permission.