A year of parenthood. A year of grace. Lots and lots of grace.

A year ago today, Brooks was twenty-eight days old.  I was twenty-eight days into motherhood.  Twenty-eight days into the biggest change of my life.  Twenty-eight days into a life of unpredictability, heart-wrenching emotion and exuberant joy.  

Twenty-eight days.  Brooks was so little.  Everything was so new.  I was so lost.

Postpartum depression, sleep deprivation and hormones took me for a ride that first month of motherhood, and I already don’t remember much about it, except there was crying.  Lots and lots of crying… and I’m not just talking about Brooks.

It’s amazing to think back to a year ago and try and grasp just how different it was and how much has changed in just one year of motherhood.  It’s amazing to see how much a baby grows in their first year, and how much you grow as a parent, too, while still feeling so inadequate at the same time.

I didn’t know my son then.  Not yet.  At that time, he was just this little human that I knew I had to feed when he cried and change when he pooped.  I didn’t know him.  He didn’t know me.  We were just trying to figure this whole thing out together.

Just one year later and I can’t even imagine that kind of relationship.  Brooks is as much a part of me now as if he has always existed in my life.  This year has brought me a love-life I’ve never known before.  This year has brought me a joy I never knew this life could offer.  I’m thankful and I’m grateful.

I’m also anxious and scared and tired… really, really tired.

Because babies are tiring.  Did you know that?  They, like, are non-stop.  Especially when they become mobile.  I feel like I’m following around a drunk friend all day making sure they don’t do anything to hurt themselves and simply keeping them afloat until I can finally tuck them into bed at night, hoping they don’t wake up sick or wet the bed.  Or worse.

Parenthood does not come without a myriad of anxiousness, fears, emotion and sleepiness.  It’s a non-stop roller-coaster ride that doesn’t allow you to get off.  It just keeps going around and around, with flips and turns and drops.  Some of it is exciting.  Some of it is scary.  Some of it gives you butterflies.  Some of it makes you sick.  Some of it gives you adrenaline.  Some of it is boring.  It’s a ride that you never want to get off because it’s your favorite ride, but every once in awhile you want to take a break and maybe, I don’t know, actually get something to eat.

And, if it’s your first time on a roller-coaster, there’s really nothing like it.

So as I reflect on this past year, that’s how I see it; a roller-coaster.  Not just in parenthood, but in life.  We moved into a new house, in a new neighborhood.  We had our first child.  I went back to work after having my first child.  I balanced new mommyhood and work and marriage.  I saw friends get married. I missed a friend get married in California due to an untimely flu.  I saw friends since we were babies have their own babies and step into this parenthood abyss just like me.  I dealt with loss upon loss that is still too fresh.

I sit here now and I’m asking myself how did that all happen in just one year?  Life is moving so fast, and I feel like I can’t keep up.  I’m taking a pulse on how I did my first year of parenthood and life with a baby.  How in the world did I do this and how will I continue to do it?  How do I keep putting on more hats and balance it all?

Because, I’m already exhausted, and Adam and I claim we aren’t done growing our family yet…

I recently had lunch with a friend who is literally superwoman.  True story.  With a family of her own, a child with Special Needs and a job that pulls her in every direction, a job she does ridiculously well I might add, I sat across from her and flat out asked,

How do you do it?  All of it?

The gist of her answer?

God.  And grace.

A lot of grace.

Lots and lots of grace.

She realized she could do none of it without God, and she simply surrendered each day to him, trusting him that he was in control.  She’d wake up and claim, “I am 100% pleasing to God today,” no matter what she did, and then lived that out throughout her day.  It opened her heart to live fully and forgive herself easily.

Most of the lunch I sat there reflecting not just on the past year but on my life and spewing out everything I’ve done wrong and and all the ways I’m not enough, all the ways I could have done better, all the ways I’m lazy and undisciplined and suck at life.  All the ways I’ve failed and all the times I was afraid to fail and so I didn’t even try.

I was laying out there everything the megaphone in my brain has yelled out to me for years.

She looked at me.  Took the “megaphone” from me.  Flipped it around and said loud and clear,

Do you think you may be being a little too hard on yourself?

Think about Brooks.  How would you feel if Brooks thought these things about himself, if he was being this hard on himself?

Crushed.

So don’t you think God is pretty crushed that you, his daughter, is this hard on herself?  When his infinite grace is at your disposal?  Give yourself a little grace, just as God gives it to you everyday.

Sometimes I forget the gift that is motherhood, because it gives me insight into how God feels about me.  It provides me a glimpse into how much God really loves me, in the same way I love my son.  

Except God loves infinitely more so.  And his love is also perfect.

So, why?  Why do we so easily forget?  Why is it so hard for us to accept God’s love and grace and mercy, but we’re so quick to believe the lies of the enemy?

Because it’s hard to comprehend perfect love when we are anything but perfect.  We are broken people living in a broken world and we tend to see our brokenness as a separator from God, when in actuality God uses our brokenness as a way to Him.

The enemy uses our brokenness to destruct.  God uses our brokenness to restore.

God restores our brokenness by offering his grace.

The cracks that led to my brokenness really started when I was fifteen, due to a tragic event that I watched unfold around me.  I saw first-hand what the brokenness of this world can do to a family, to a community, to friends and loved ones.  The world as I knew it did not exist after that, and the enemy rejoiced.  From that point on, he knew exactly how he was going to hold me back from my full potential in Christ, before I even knew Christ at all.

And with that, it holds me back from my full potential as a wife, a mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend, etc.

Being a parent is hard enough.  But being a parent while also being a wife, sister, daughter, friend, employee, whomever, you can start to lose sight of who you are as a person.  I am all of these things, yes.  And I love being all of these things.  I love being a mom to Brooks and a wife to Adam.  But my brokenness can let the roles that I play each day and how I perform in those roles define me.  We let what we do become who we are instead of allowing who we are (hint: a child of God) to define and shape what we do.

Perform.  Perform and control.  Perform and control and cling to these roles as if you are nothing without them.

Perform and control and cling.  

Fail.

Feel miserable.

Repeat.

If I perform and control and cling to these things, nothing bad will ever happen.

Brokenness.  Again and again and again.

Year one of parenthood is in the books, and I can look back on this year and find all the things that went wrong.  All the ways I failed or all the ways things could have gone better.  All the ways I was broken.  Because those things are there.  There’s no denying that.

Or I can look back and see His grace.

I can see my son.  And the reminder of God’s love for me in how much I love Brooks.  A beautiful, healthy baby boy who looks at me with his big eyes and insane eyelashes as if I am his entire world.

I can see a desire fulfilled.  I am mom.  A mom!  What meaning that brings me and what purpose I have now.  My son is a part of me and I a part him.  I will always have that.

I can see a husband who loves me and loves Brooks and works incredibly hard to care for us well and always puts us first.

I can see good friends and co-workers who genuinely want to see me succeed and walk alongside me through the good and bad.

I can see family who on a daily basis give up their time and freedom to care for Brooks, giving us the opportunity to work, save money and know Brooks is in such good hands.

I can see hope in tragedy through close family relationships and joy in tragedy through the beauty of new life in Brooks and the smiles he brought during excruciating loss for our family.

Did I mention his eyelashes?

I can see joy.  

Lots and lots of joy.

I can see grace.

Lots and lots of grace.

The enemy says it’s because of your brokenness you cannot break free.

God says it’s because of my grace in your brokenness that you are free.

A year ago today, Brooks was twenty-eight days old.  Today, he is three hundred and ninety-three days old.

A lot has changed.

God’s grace has not.

And it was, and is, sufficient for me.

So won’t it always be?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

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