Recently, I attended both a wedding and a baby shower in the same weekend. As I was wrapping both gifts, I couldn’t help but think about what those two women really needed. The perfect gift for those first steps into marriage or motherhood is not anything that could be wrapped in pretty paper.
Sure newlyweds need pans to cook in, and babies need blankets to snuggle in. Yes, soft towels are nice and baby jammies might be the cutest clothing anyone could ever purchase. What both new brides and new mommas really need, though, could never be found on a registry.
The one gift that turns today’s joy into a lifetime of love is the gift of time.
That new wife might not know what to cook in her new pans for her husband or guests, but with practice, she will—it takes time. That new momma may not know how to soothe a soft pajama-clad baby in the middle of the night. After weeks of practice, she will—it takes time.
The new wife might not know how to work through that first argument with her husband. It doesn’t matter how beautiful their dishes are when they are sitting at the kitchen table, frustrated with each other. She doesn’t know how to forgive him when he makes her so mad. But with practice, she will—it takes time.
The new momma has so many voices and opinions coming at her about raising her child. She stares at her baby in the new swing, with the monogrammed blanket. She doesn’t know which voices to listen to, but she will—it takes time.
The new wife doesn’t immediately know how to mesh her own habits and expectations with those of her husband. Their pillowcases match perfectly while they don’t understand each other’s perspectives yet.
But they will—it takes time.
The new momma doesn’t know how to get her baby to sleep and eat at the right times. She has all the swaddles, noise machines, and baby research available, but she’s still overwhelmed. With practice, eating and sleeping will become a routine—it just takes time.
The new wife has dreams and plans for her life and marriage. There will be houses and children, careers and goals. All of her plans are as new and shiny as her wine glasses. She doesn’t know how to slow down and savor the ordinary days with her husband. But she will—it takes time.
The exhausted momma can’t see past those ordinary days of diapers, feeding, repeat. As she takes out that not-so-new diaper pail trash again, she sighs, wondering what she actually accomplished that day. Someday soon she will be able to finish a task with both hands. She will also learn that days don’t need to be measured in chores that are finished—it just takes time.
The new wife doesn’t know how to trust God with the big decisions in marriage.
She pulls that beautiful down comforter up to her chin and peers through the darkness, trying to see what the future holds. It feels like she and her husband are alone against the world. But she will learn to trust—it just takes time.
The new momma with her baby strapped in tight to the stroller feels like she has little control over the world around her precious child. She can’t find the balance between safety and worry. But she will practice faith over fear every single day. It gets a little easier as the years go on, but it continually takes practice and time.
Both new wives and new mommas are filled with such passionate hope. A hope that still burns deep inside their hearts even when the newness wears off. As the years pass, the lines between woman, wife, and momma may start to blur together. That wife and mother might wonder who she actually is for a minute. Her identity is a mosaic of beautifully imperfect pieces of every single phase of her life; she just doesn’t know it yet. But she will—it takes time.
If I could wrap up time and experience and bring it to the next shower I am invited to, I would.
I would choose the prettiest paper and write “This is really all you need” on the card. I have a suspicion though, that the time spent learning to love our husbands and our children is a gift that has already been given to us, no wrapping necessary. We didn’t receive this gift from a shower guest, but from someone who created time itself.
So on the days that the dishes break and the baby grows out of all his clothes, the time spent loving our families and the fond memories we make while growing older together will still remain.
It just takes time to grow into love.