Last summer, my friend and I sat with our husbands on the porch at our rented beach bungalow, vision casting the lives we now lead—those as new mothers. Hopeful and eager, we sat cross-legged on foldable beach chairs and listed off a million possible baby names, imagined how we’d deal with labor, debated the merits of formula and breastfeeding.
Collectively, we as a couple of couples counted this trip as our last before our babies would come, though neither of us was pregnant at the time. By God’s grace, just a few weeks after our trip, I got my positive result. Later in the summer, she got hers.
We were on the road to new motherhood together.
Now, my child is two months old and hers is approaching two weeks. We were texting this morning about challenges that inevitably arise when you’re a new mom, one used to working full time and now home on maternity leave.
Three little three dots showed me her next message was coming. I’d asked how things were going since her mom’s visit ended Friday. She shared yesterday her son was unusually fussy and that before nightfall, she was in tears, feeling inadequate in her ability to calm him, lamenting how few household chores she’d been able to accomplish.
Like any good friend would, I immediately texted back encouragement.
“Girl! You’re a brand new mama! It hasn’t even been two weeks! Your only job is to care for that little boy. He’s the priority and you’re a priority, too!”
Always the vulnerable type, I tried to make her feel better by sharing that I’d had a pile of clean clothes on our bedroom floor for about a week, still not folded or put away. Some small gesture of solidarity, I suppose.
Still, so far today I swept and mopped the floors, breastfed at least four times, did baby laundry, read the baby books, and changed a handful of diapers. That should be enough to make me feel like enough, right?
Evidently not. As I sprayed Pine-Sol from my O-Cedar over our floors, I side-eyed that laundry pile feeling, you guessed it, inadequate.
What if not getting it hung up again today would disappoint my husband, working to bring in money I’m not making right now? It is not as though I hadn’t had time over the weekend when he was here to fold it and put it away. Was I lazy? Undisciplined? Unfit to be a good housewife?
But then I stepped back and saw the hypocrisy in my views of my friend and my views of myself. I literally typed to her: “For the record, I don’t think you should do any chores yet!” Yet I was over here, just 10 weeks postpartum, berating myself for only getting 9/10 of the chores done I had on my mental to-do list.
Why do we, as new mamas, do this to ourselves?
Wasn’t that snuggle with my little man this morning the most important thing I could do today? Wasn’t that milk my body just provided for his midday meal so much more valuable than any folded t-shirt? Why did I assign my own worth in relation to the chores I accomplished in a 24 hour period, but would never dream of seeing my friend this way? How could I so clearly see that she needed to provide herself with gallons of grace but had such hard-headedness with extending even a drop of it to myself?
Both my friend and I are blessed to have husbands who love us unconditionally. I’m told I’m beautiful when I’m in spit-up t-shirts with hair in a (very unintentionally) messy bun. I am able to give my friend this kind of “you don’t have to be perfect or do it all” grace, too. She returns the favor. I’m so grateful for that.
And the thing is, our God has this grace for us every day.
“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6).
Romans 11:6 tells me God doesn’t care if that pile got folded last Saturday or if it has to wait until next Saturday or if we just wear clothes right out of the pile this time and don’t fold them at all. During this short, precious season of life, He gave my husband and me a beautiful miracle in our new little baby boy. He accepts me with open, loving arms, no matter what works I do or do not get to today. He sees my inherent value, as a human, a wife, and, now, a mother.
If you need someone to grant you permission to take the time for the snuggles and not the mismatched socks, I give it to you. I give you that grace. But don’t take it from me- take it from Him. You’re worth more than rubies, after all.
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10-12).