My daughter was two months old. I remember sitting on the couch, nursing my new, innocent little baby, feeling sore, discouraged, and full of exhausted tears. I was questioning my purpose and wondering if it was all supposed to be this hard. If so, then why? My life was starkly different from the one I led before having Elizabeth. Her birth changed everything; I had no idea then, how her life was transforming mine.
It was on this day that I started my instagram @asceticlifeofmotherhood. Kind of a funny thing to do on a day when you feel like the whole world was changing right before your eyes! But I did, and it was my first attempt to begin to connect with other moms who might be in this same place as me. I also wanted to remind myself of the beautiful moments that were passing me by and remember that it wasn’t all hard. I mean after all, this little precious little girl wanted nothing more than to be close to my heart, snuggled up tight, and all she knew was the world was right and safe and she was loved. I wanted to remember that, and soak it in. It is a beautiful struggle I found myself in.
Although it didn’t get easy overnight, I started to see things in a new light. It’s as if my perspective changed and I was able to find strength in the struggle rather than trying to push it away. My faith, the Orthodox Christian faith, teaches this - that the experience of suffering/struggle can actually be one that is redemptive/transformative; that through ascetic practice, we may become closer to Christ. While this is something I knew to be the Church's teaching and my prayers, I didn't get a taste for this experience until becoming a mother.
Being a mother is an “on the job training” and it’s hard to say if anything can prepare you for what’s ahead. But isn’t that all of life? We take each day as it comes and try and navigate the unknown. I’m only 2 years in but I finally feel like I’ve got my bearings on this whole parenting thing (until the next major change happens, of course)! But no matter what lies ahead, I can be reminded that life is full of struggle, but it’s our attitude and mind set that can really make the difference. I can choose to either lean into it and draw nearer to Christ, or resist the challenges and find myself in misery and despair. I’m allowing these changes to transform me into a new person, and my hope is that in time, I can be a light to those around me. Despite the challenges ahead, I will choose see the beauty in it and be thankful for the struggle. Because there’s always beauty, even in the struggle.