Not long ago, a Boundless reader e-mailed me and told me that he looked forward to hearing some of my observations and insights regarding family life, now that I am married and about half of a year into motherhood. I haven’t written a lot about these transitions, because I wasn’t sure how relevant (or interesting) this information would be for the larger Boundless audience. But recently I’ve been thinking about some things about this new life that have universal applications.
About this time two years ago, I wrote a series called “Thoughts of a Newly Not-Single.” It was a short series with only three insights:
Not sure if I intended to write more, but it looks like I got distracted by getting engaged mid-series. You’ll have to forgive me. In the same spirit, I think I’ll talk about some things I’ve learned going from single to a wife and mommy during the past two years.
Wife and Mom Insight No. 1: I Am the Same Person
I don’t know about you, but when I was single I imagined I’d turn into this different person when I got married. I’d probably be more domestic and given to uncontrollable fits of hospitality. I’d be gentler and more wise. I’d spend more time being productive and less time watching TV. Essentially, I imagined my flaws would be gone (or greatly decreased), and I would have a whole new set of “wifey” characteristics. That didn’t happen.
A few months after marriage I told a friend that I was surprised at how seamless the transition was to being a wife. I was still fully me, just with a new role and responsibilities. Sure, I had to learn some new things (like how to provide dinner for a hungry guy each night — cereal just wasn’t going to cut it), but for the most part, I continued to be me.
The upside of this was the joy of finally using some of my talents to bless my husband. I helped him write a cover letter that got him an interview (which got him hired) to a job he really wanted. I applied my communication skills to listening to him verbally process his day and offering him counsel. And my ability to relax and have fun provided us with refreshing evenings together after busy workdays.
As I alluded to, the downside of continuing to be me is that I did not magically develop the skill set of a wife (or the skill set I believed a wife should have). I’m still working on that. Things I had struggled to be disciplined doing as a single, I continued to struggle with. Then enter a child.
I assumed when I had my son I would suddenly be overtaken with motherly instinct and love caring for my child. True, there are certain wonderful perks to the job. I love going into my son’s room first thing in the morning and seeing him practically burst with joy at the sight of me. That’s my thing. Communication. But the other day, after I had strapped my little guy into his high chair, I sprawled out on the couch and moaned, “I don’t want to feed him.” Slimy baby food isn’t my thing. Kevin reminded me that I did, in fact, need to feed our son and even served me by doing half the job.
In one way the realization that I am still me is comforting. I know God created me with my strengths and my weaknesses. And He’s chosen my husband and son to receive both the good and bad of me. Perhaps God knows that my son needs more communication and playtime with his mommy and less variety of solid foods. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying to grow and improve; I am. And marriage and motherhood are precisely the things God is using to force me out of my comfort zone and take me to the next level. Speaking of motherhood, I hear some unusual squawks coming from upstairs. Time to go enjoy that baby grin.