Becoming a Mom A Process of New Discovery
Facing the upcoming birth of our first baby has caused me to struggle with my change in identity … but perhaps it isn’t a “new” identity after all.
By the time my husband, David, and I celebrated our fourth anniversary, our newlywed relationship was solid both spiritually and relationally, so we knew it was time to begin our familial legacy. Now I’m happy to say that on May 4, we’re expecting our first child—a son, Benjamin Robert Beasley—to make an entrance into the world.
I am now in my seventh month of pregnancy, watching the weeks tick by. Sometimes these last few weeks appear to be long and burdensome like walking in deep mud; other times they seem blurry, like objects you see while rolling down a hill. As you can probably imagine, there have been a lot of changes in my life, and I’ve struggled with them more than I thought I would.
I can honestly say pregnancy has been the most difficult yet fascinating experience of my life. Like all new expectant mothers, I’ve had thoughts of fear—health concerns, life and death issues, “what if” scenarios. But I think one of the most difficult battles for me has been the fear of losing my identity.
David and I made the decision early on that the best choice for our family would be for me to quit my job and stay home with our children. We will have to make some financial sacrifices, but it is possible. In my heart, I know that this is most definitely the best decision we can make, but I would be lying if I said I haven’t struggled with the thought of leaving my job as a writer and editor at FamilyLife. I have found a great deal of fulfillment in reaching marriages and families through the Internet, and to leave that is like leaving a piece of my heart.
The Inner Battle
There was a tug-of-war going on in my mind as I battled out the pros and cons of leaving my job. One side of me overflowed with joy that I have the honor and privilege to stay home with my children. I know I’ll be there to hear my baby’s first words and see his first steps. I’ll have the freedom to take him to the park and the zoo, and I won’t have to worry about who’s going to care for him when he’s sick or how we’re going to afford childcare.
The other side of me, however, turned inward, wondering what was going to happen to me and my contribution to the work of the Kingdom. As a believer, I have an overwhelming passion and commitment to spread the gospel, share principles from God’s Word, and participate in ministry on a larger level than my own home.
I realize that there will be opportunities to use my skills from home in many different ways, but reality tells me that I won’t have much time for regular projects and duties like I had before, especially early on. I kept hearing the warnings of other moms echoing in my mind:
- “Sleep when the baby sleeps.”
- “You won’t even have time to clean house.”
- “It’s going to be hard to get anything done except to feed and change the baby. And about the time you get that routine down, he’ll start crawling, then walking. You’ll have less and less time for other things.”
The more comments like this I heard, the more I saw myself shriveling away. I wondered if all my skills and talents were going to wither away, as well. Is writing one of those “use it or lose it” skills, or is it more like “riding a bike”? I felt somewhat embittered as my husband excelled in his job, receiving accolades and trips, while I began the process of hiring a replacement and moving over files and projects to co-workers.
A Moment of Peace
Back and forth the battle raged within me. Feeling somewhat selfish, I mainly kept my thoughts to myself, except for the occasional outburst to my patient husband. But I finally confessed to a dear sister in Christ, Nikki. I explained my inner struggle and my fear of losing my identity. She kindly sympathized, but her response brought a momentary hush to my inner battlefield:
“You won’t lose your identity. You will just find out more about yourself than you ever knew before.”
I never thought that way about being a mother. Until that moment, I thought of my decision to be a stay-at-home mom as a choice to basically become someone else—a person with a different vision, focus, and purpose in life. I felt I had to choose between my old self and my new mother-self. But Nikki’s words reminded me that God created us with multiple dimensions, and there are parts of who I am that have not even been explored yet.
Nikki sees motherhood as an adventure, rather than an overthrow of one’s personality. It was as if she was telling me that my life hasn’t come to an end, but that it is just beginning. There are still many treasures to uncover on this adventure, not just in the joy of seeing my baby grow, but also in seeing myself grow. And all of this won’t take the place of who I am, but become a new facet of whom I already am.
Seeking the Treasure
I wish I could say that Nikki’s words have taken away all my inner fears and battles. They haven’t. But one thing has changed; when the battle begins to rage, I know where to put my focus now—not on losses but on gains. In addition to a growing belly, I can see a growing character and a closer walk with God. I can look for the things that God is trying to show me and treasure them, like Mary the mother of Christ who wisely “treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
Here are just a few examples of the treasures I’ve collected so far:
- I’ve seen how God is causing me to face my fears, challenging me to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). By going through this experience, I am forced to trust Him by handing over the unknown and finding peace in His sovereignty.
- I’ve seen how God provides comfort in time of need by bringing believers across my path to give me the encouragement (and sometimes exhortation) I need (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- I’ve learned an even deeper love and appreciation for David as I’ve seen the ways he has tenderly cared for me during rough days of pregnancy and the sacrifices of his own that he’s been willing to make.
- I’ve seen how God continues to use life’s circumstances to chip away at my selfishness, refining me day by day.
All of these treasures, and this is just the start.
It won’t be long until the path of pregnancy takes me to the land of mommy-hood. I’ll camp out in pre-school valley for a while, learning and growing along with my new baby (and more children if God wills it). And when my children begin school, I’m sure there will be a new crisis of identity where I get to learn even more things about who God has created me to be.
But for now, I’m working to take that sage advice from mothers before me and “enjoy it while I can.” Little Benjamin will be here in just a short time, and I look forward to meeting him and growing in our new lives together. As he learns about the world from his newborn eyes, I’ll be learning about it from a new mother’s eyes. And perhaps I’ll even get a glimpse of how God plans to use this part of my life for His glory and to fulfill the next part of my identity in Him.
Copyright © 2008 by Sabrina Beasley. Used with permission. All rights reserved.