Like a lot of little girls, I grew up dreaming of the day I would become a mommy. I went through various stages, like the time I told my mom I wanted to have 50 boys and 50 girls (what the heck was I thinking?). Or the time I thought I wanted to have all my kids in my 20s and be completely done by the time I was 30–because as a preteen, 30 seemed ancient. Or the time I wanted all my children as close in age as physically possible. 

All of these thoughts pretty much dissolved once I had my first child. These were naive thoughts, but I had a lot of other more realistic hopes and dreams for my family. 

I wanted a family who loved each other, children who always had each other’s backs. I wanted to raise kids who loved Jesus and loved others. I wanted my children to have a nurturing and stimulating childhood. I wanted children who were happy and enjoyed life. I dreamed of all these things. 

Then the one thing I never dreamed could happen actually happened to me–and it shaped who I am as a mother. 

My daughter died at four-months-old. 

All of my hopes and dreams about motherhood always featured healthy kids. This wasn’t what I expected. This wasn’t what I planned for. What the heck do I do now? 

Motherhood is supposed to be beautiful and chaotic but not devastating . . . not excruciatingly painful. 

I’m supposed to have my daughter in my arms. I’m supposed to be buying her a Halloween costume, not decorating her gravesite. 

I don’t get it. 

October 22nd marked one year since Jaylee Hope went to be with Jesus. I don’t understand her death any more than I did a year ago. I truly don’t. 

But I have had some time to step back and see how losing her has both shaped and transformed me as a mother. 

There are hard things, such as the fact that I often feel like I don’t fit in with other moms. Or that I can panic when one of my other children has a little cold because I always fear the worst. Things trigger me. I feel things in a different way. I’ve seen the worst and I know bad stuff can and does happen. 

But there’s also positive lessons I’ve learned about motherhood.

I no longer sweat the small stuff as much.

I savor most moments of parenting. 

I know how to truly feel empathy for those who are going through hard times. 

I would never chose to lose my daughter in order to learn these lessons. I would give almost anything to have her back with us.

But she’s not coming back. My fantasized view of motherhood has forever changed. It’s now a much more realistic view.

I know that each moment with my kids is a gift not to be taken for granted. I know that motherhood can be full of pain. It can be doctor’s appointments and medical procedures instead of play dates and parks. 

It can be painful. It can be raw. It can be horrifying. 

So where does that leave me now? Where does that leave any of us who have gone through a tragedy?

All I can do is cling to the hope that I will see my daughter in Heaven again one day, because Jesus sacrificed His life for us. 

All I can do is try to be the best wife and mom I can be. To take these lessons I’ve learned about the fragility of life and put it into practice. 

I’m forever changed as a mommy. Motherhood will never be what I imagined. However, it is where God has brought me. I’m thankful for my time with each one of my precious children and for the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Christiana Whallon

I am a wife and a stay at home mommy to three beautiful children, two on earth and one in Heaven. I love traveling, cooking, and being in nature. You can read more about our daughter, Jaylee Hope, and help us celebrate her memory at https://www.facebook.com/JayleesJourneyofHope

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