Growing up, my parents conveyed a very negative sentiment about having kids. They would often tell my brothers and I not to have kids of our own. Usually one of us had gotten in trouble, and in an exasperated tone my mother or father would snap, “See I should have never had kids! Look at all I have to deal with!”

In retrospect I realize that was one of the worst messages to send your children.

Sadly, the hurt behind those words seeped into my own heart and cracked my emotional foundation. I slowly became indoctrinated and began echoing the same horrible sentiment throughout my teenage years. I confess – for a long time I didn’t think too highly of myself. I mean, what does that say about me as their daughter? Did she wish I was never born?

It wasn’t until years later before I confronted my mom. I remember we were hanging clothes out on the line. The damp shirts and jeans floated underneath the cloudy Carolina skies.

Once again she made one of her crude statements about wishing she never had children.

I blurted out, “So what are you saying, you wish you never had me?” I’m not sure where the words came from or the courage to speak them. My mother was never a quiet person, but that day her silence was deafening. I gasped for air, unable to breathe for a few moments. I was struck with the aching, lonely emotion of being unwanted.

Sadly, I’ve always carried that day with me, even as I come to grips with my own recent entrance into motherhood.

These struggles have made me even more thankful for my husband who is such a wonderful example of unconditional love. He is an amazing reflection of Christ’s love, the type that expands boundlessly and expects nothing in return. The kind that I don’t deserve, but have the pleasure of basking in on a daily basis.

As my own newborn son lays against my breast in the newly forming morning, my heart swells with the desire for him to know that type of love; the fairy tale delight that my husband shares with us so effortlessly.

Even so, at times motherhood threatens to push me over the edge.

I am expected to be the constant caretaker and nurturer without any questions asked. Motherhood is a higher calling, bigger burden, but also a greater gift than I could have ever imagined. It pushes me to every limit, and just when I think I can’t give anymore, a new bar is set even higher than the previous. He demands so much on a daily basis, along with dirty diapers, waiting laundry and an avalanche of dirty dishes. Overnight I was expected to have developed an unlimited supply of patience. Instead, I’m often quick to anger, prone to mounting selfishness and cursing through my frustrations.

Amazingly, just when I think I’ve endured beyond the capacity of any normal human being, a sudden twinkle in my little guy’s eyes draws me in. His coos and baby talk have captured my soul.

In my sane moments I remember that my baby’s job is to take. He definitely excels at it.

I, on the other hand, have been given the high honor to serve him and raise him well.

Perhaps I will fail, and honestly I already have countless times. But I try to give myself grace and remember there’s even more grace to make up for my lack. There’s always grace. Honestly, I often forget that in the crazy moments of my non-stop day. Grace is such an elusive lady. Nevertheless, I choose to fight, somehow I believe love can win.

My son deserves much more than I was offered. He should always feel wanted and cherished.

I’m realizing that grace and hope are a team that will shape and mold me through this process if I submit to their unyielding hands. If I can focus more on the hope that peeks through in our small successes; my husband’s unwavering encouragement that tells me I am the best and sweetest mother and wife. (He also tells me I’m sexy no matter my size and hairstyle. Now that’s inspiration for days!)

This is the hope and grace I need to bask in.

I have to remind myself, as I hope you do as well, that hope never dies and grace never fails. My heart may ache at times, but it is hope and grace that are the antidote.

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