I’m a young mom. I’m 29, have been married for just over 3 years, have a 2-year-old daughter, a 1-year-old son and we will be joined by another precious baby in January! Since I’ve only been married for 3 years, it’s pretty easy for me to remember what life was like before I met and married my beloved. Perhaps a few of my reflections may help you prepare for the future.
We all have our dreams of what married life will be like, don’t we? Oh, it’s glorious to imagine!
(All these following phrases should be pictured in your own dream cloud.) A husband, my own man who loves just me forever! Babies, babies and more babies! My own little home to care for, clean, putter around and decorate! Doing the grocery shopping for my own little family and home! Cooking meals for the man of my dreams! Yes, we all dream pretty much the same basics with our own preferences added in, seasoned to taste.
And you know what? It IS like my dreams! Truly it is. I LOVE the life I’ve been given and I’m so thankful for my own husband who loves just me forever! I am so thankful for baby, babies and more babies! I love having my own little home to care for, clean, putter around, and decorate! Grocery shopping and cooking for my own family is great!
Lest some married folks laugh or tell me to “just wait a few more years”, I just want to say that it is work and sometimes it is hard but I want to start out by instilling hope in the unmarried hearts that marriage is a glorious thing when done God’s way in God’s timing and your dreams can come true!
So now what can I share to help you prepare for this glorious season of life? What things surprised me that I thought I would be well prepared for?
I can honestly say that normal married life didn’t really bring any surprises and that in itself, surprised me! I believe that comes from basically four things. First: my parents did an amazing job preparing me for life in general with Godly character training, “dying to self” training and practical-life-skill training. Second: The marriage and life I moved into were completely and totally in God’s will and in God’s perfect timing and He gave me the grace to adjust to the changes. Third: Both my husband and I went from living with our families to being married and living with each other. We never fostered an “independent/do things only my way” habit. And fourth: I have chosen to be content.
So my first word of advice is to foster a spirit of contentment. If you are not content where you are now, then a change of scenery or a change of status is not going to fix that. Contentment is a choice. Dare I say it’s 100% your choice? I think so. Your husband will not be perfect. He will do things that bug you here and there. You may not be able to keep the same friends or the same activities that you loved before you got married. You may not live in your dream home or your dream area, etc. etc. It doesn’t matter. I think this is a principle we all know but that we cannot emphasize enough. Choose to be content and you will have a dreamy future!!
My sister and I have a code/inside joke that I’ll share with you. We once saw a choir sing a song with hand motions. The song was about a girl finding her guy and how great it would be. Part of it went like this… “I love him, I love him, I love him and where he goes I’ll follow, I’ll follow, I’ll follow…” and the choir did hand motions, hands swinging in unison to the right on the “love him, love him, love him” part and switching to the left on the “I’ll follow” part.
Somehow a silly little song with silly little hand motions really spoke a lesson to us and we often remind each other of that (even by just swinging our hands and not saying anything) when we hear of someone who isn’t loving and following as she should or when we see someone who is! It’s a good reminder, girls. If God gives you a husband, decide now that you will love him, love him, love him and where he goes you’ll follow, follow, follow. Contentment is a choice!
Another word of advice is that you must take notice and care of your body NOW!!! Motherhood is a huge drain, and I mean a HUGE DRAIN on your body. I know girls in their teens and early twenties who are living as if their bodies are invincible to strain. I had seasons of living that way before I was married as well. It’s not smart. There may be seasons where you need to push hard and tax your body for a time and that’s ok, but please don’t live as if sleep and health don’t matter! Go to bed at a wise time. You never really make up for lost sleep. If you are in the habit of staying up late, late, late, even if you’re doing worthy things, stop. Change your habit. Take care of the body God gave you. It has to last you through a lot of stuff.
Sleep isn’t the only thing to consider. Work on both your physical strength through fitness and exercise and your physical health through proper nutrition. The health and care of your body could comprise several articles on its own so I’ll just leave it at that for now. I think though that the demand on my body from pregnancy, nursing and caring for a home, husband and children was something that surprised me once I got married and I could have been better prepared in this area. Not being as well prepared as I could have been is causing me some hardships now.
One of the only real surprises (by far the biggest and one I couldn’t have prepared for) in my marriage so far, was the premature labour and delivery of our son. Something happened that was completely and totally out of our control. For unknown reasons I went into labour at 32 weeks gestation. My husband wasn’t home when I went into labour. From the time the contractions started to the time I delivered Joseph was a total of 3 hours. Praise the Lord, my mother-in-law came and got my daughter, my doula came and took me to the hospital, my husband and my mid-wife met us there and BOOM, Joseph was here!
I am so incredibly thankful that I was able to deliver him naturally! I was fine. Joseph was also quite fine, but because he was so early he needed just a bit of help with breathing for the first day and then he spent 3 weeks in NICU to keep warm, learn to eat and gain weight. Once he was released and we joyfully took him home, he didn’t know how to nurse. The next three weeks or so were a fight to get him nursing. There is lots to the story and tons to be thankful for. However, for the purpose of this article, I want to tell you that those 3 weeks Joseph was in the hospital and the several weeks following his home-coming were the hardest and most grueling weeks I have ever been through.
Over a year later I still have emotions built up in me with which I still need to deal. I can’t really describe how hard it was. It is so hard to be told at the hospital that you can’t hold your own son who really needs nothing more than to be held … to love your baby so much and yet be so mad at him for not nursing and then to feel so guilty for being mad at your poor baby … to be frustrated beyond what you think you can bear … to be so tired, like you’ve never been tired before … to see no answers, yet knowing you can’t go on as things are … and you know what? By the grace of God and through the help and support of my husband, mom, sister and mother-in-law, I survived. My husband survived. (It was incredibly hard on him, too.) Joseph learned to nurse! Joseph is a healthy, perfect 14-month-old! Like I said, I still have emotions built up with which I need to deal. But, in all these things “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us”!
The point of sharing all this with you is to show you that there are some things for which you simply cannot prepare. When these things happen we must rely on God and find our strength in Him. But, you can prepare in the sense that you can know the Word of God ahead of time and you can practice turning to Him for help. You can also practice submitting your heart and mind to His will even when you don’t understand. You can practice thanking God in everything today so when a trial comes that exceeds every trial so far, you can still thank Him. Beyond that, make sure you have a network of family and friends who can be a true help in times of need. Don’t isolate yourself from important relationships.
Another little lesson from this story and something I’ve learned from motherhood in general is that you can’t take a break. I think I knew that in my head but the daily reality of that is sometimes overwhelming. Before I was married, no matter in what I was involved or with what I was helping, after the big push to meet a deadline, I could take a break. I could rest for a bit, catch my breath.
Once you’re a mom, you can’t do that, at least not in the first few years. When I just had my daughter I don’t think I ever felt the need for a break. But the hardships with Joseph and having two babies to care for and being pregnant and extra tired have made me long for a break, a few days off! One of the hardest things is to just keep going. When life gets overwhelming and you’re super tired and all you want is a day off, too bad! You have no choice but to keep pushing.
Now granted, hopefully we have family (and I do) who can come help or take the babies for a few hours, but as long as you have little ones nursing you don’t get a very long break. How do you prepare for this kind of non-stop push through life? How do you learn to keep going when you can’t keep going? I have two answers for you. One: having small livestock while growing up really taught me a lot about this on a small scale. The commitment that a living thing requires of you is great training ground. Two: I don’t know. You just do it.
That being said, if you find life is tiring you out and you feel like you need a break now and you’re not married yet, try to take one! Try to stop some activities or relinquish some responsibilities, even for a short time and get some rest, some quiet time with the Lord, some refreshment. It is ok to take a break!!
One last piece of advice that will make every marriage better and every motherhood adventure easier: learn and practice dying to yourself. You know, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” “We are buried with Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Again, these are concepts most of us know … and concepts that most of us need to keep learning and doing every day.
So, you want to be a great mother? Then cheerfully read your little sister that same book for the 436th time. You want to be an amazing wife? Quietly wash another counter-full of dishes. Give up your “rights” and pour yourself out for those around you. That’s the best way I know to prepare for being a wife and a mother. May God bring you your husband and home and children in His perfect timing and I pray that your future will be as glorious as your dreams are and as glorious as my life is! From a happy wife and mama,