In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking, pondering, wondering what it would be like to be a mommy one day.
That’s normal, you say. Everyone woman experiences that, you tell me.
Except that I haven’t always experienced the desire of wanting to be someone’s mother.
When I was in my teens, I was afraid of babies.
And in my 20s, I didn’t really know what to do with babies.
I enjoyed cooing at infants and casting grins at toddlers from afar.
I didn’t really want them near me. They were sticky, loud and couldn’t communicate their needs.
And that scared me a little bit.
In other words, I wasn’t one of those women who naturally knew how to scoop a child in my arms and begin the rotating bounce motion to soothe them to sleep.
Most of the time when babies were placed in my arms – they cried.
Wherein I began searching feverishly in all directions for the kid’s parent and/or the nearest maternal female.
But something shifted in my late 20s.
During one of those career lows when I had to work several jobs for about seven months to make ends (sort of) meet (which they didn’t all the time) I took a job as a nanny.
I’m not sure how I convinced the parents, who were perfectly sweet and adoring, to trust me to watch their 2-year-old with just about no childcare experience. But I did. They hired me.
And I fell in love with the baby.
I was there when he woke, and there when he went to sleep.
We had breakfast each morning, learned counting, shapes and colors. We went on field trips to the pool and the park and we took the dog for walks around the neighborhood.
They were full days. And I loved them.
I realized during those few months, maybe for first time in my life, that motherhood (even part-time) was truly as tiring as everyone says.
During that brief time as a nanny, I remember thinking God was teaching me how to take care of a family one day.
I always thought I knew how to do it, and would be successful at it.
But it turned out I had much to learn about motherhood, taking care of a home with a husband and child and keeping my own sanity when I couldn’t do the things I wanted and needed to accomplish during the day.
I remember thinking when I was having a pre-meltdown, that God was trying to teach me that I needed to learn what it was like to put my needs aside so I could focus on the child. He was trying to show me that you have to start small to grow big. He was trying to show me that even little innocent babies, are sinful and need guidance. He was trying to show me that it’s OK to be silly and dance and sing off-key on a random Tuesday morning in your Superman mismatched pajamas.
I remember putting away a stack of forks in a drawer one day, lining them up in perfect order, and thinking “This is what real life looks like.”
It’s not all about ambition and career and money and moving to the next opportunity, I thought.
Sometimes in life, it’s just going to be about putting clean forks away in the drawer and cleaning up the kitchen while a tired baby naps in the other room.
And while I didn’t love where I was at that time in my life — A truly, financially and emotionally bankrupt time when I thought God was neglecting my prayers to move up and out of the situation I was in — I look back at those seven months of looking after a 2-year-old, and realized it shaped my perspective of family and caregiving forever. For the better.
I’m still not ready for children, or a family of my own just yet.
But I love knowing when I reflect back on that time learning how to be parent, I realize God was actually teaching me how to be a better child.
Jennifer Preyss is the faith editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535, jenniferpreyss.com, or on Twitter @jenniferpreyss