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// I S U R R E N D E R //
Deur Maryke van Wyk
Having a baby has probably been the biggest life challenge I’ve had to face (and I’m only 4 months in). It has been a constant struggle between self and self-sacrifice. I am used to my to-do lists, coffee, goals, time-blocking and running around until everything is done. Social media often suggests that we can “do it all” and “have it all”, the only thing standing in your way is yourself and that “hard work” and being “goal driven” will get you everywhere. This sets us on a path of always chasing the ultimate “Instagram” lifestyle and makes it extremely difficult to find joy in exactly where you are.
This has been my struggle. I had the picture of having my beautiful baby whilst working my badass mom butt off while she sleeps. Once she wakes up I’d sweep her up and play all kinds of stimulating games until she gently falls back to sleep so that mamma can put in the hours to make some money.
Only, that’s not how most babies work. When baby sleeps, I try to catch up with washing, eat something and the moment I sit down to work – she wakes up. It has been a constant challenge to get work done which has created immense stress every day. I’m tired, not so much because of a lack of sleep, but because I’m constantly behind in pretty much everything. I’m running, trying to catch up on a lifestyle that I had before that I just find impossible to maintain. I’m angry and frustrated because my baby doesn’t want to fit into my routine. I panic and find myself spiralling into a dark hole because how will I ever catch up? How will I ever maintain my “have it all” lifestyle?
And so one-day last week everything just went up in flames. Baby was crying. I was crying. I was stuck. I was being a terrible mom, waiting every moment for baby to sleep and at the same time, I was not getting any work done. I was failing at everything. And in that painful moment, I decided to give up. I decided to drop all the balls. I picked up my baby, I held her close and comforted her until whatever was wrong was better. I let her fall asleep on my chest and enjoyed her closeness while she slept. She woke up and I put her down in the sun, talking to her and playing her games and once she was tired I picked her up and helped her to gently fall asleep. We had the best afternoon in a long time.
I suddenly realised that I no longer was the person I was before, it was no longer just me. I have lost a part of me, but I have gained another and I needed to embrace the new part of me. I was now a mom.
There will come a time when the individual me will become more prominent again – maybe when she is 2 and going to a playgroup, maybe when she is 6 and going to primary school or maybe at 18 when she spreads her wings. But that time is not now. It is time now for sacrifice and for surrender – to enjoy baby legs kicking, spit on all my clothes, one-sided conversations and baby milestones. And I have found the biggest JOY in total surrender to love.
Only now can I look back and see how focused on the “self” my thoughts were. We are bombarded with the idea that you shouldn’t lose your identity in your baby. I know that was definitely one of my biggest fears – losing my time because someone else is dependant on me. But my identity right now is all about my baby and I’m tired of having to apologise for that. I am the best me for my family when I can whole-heartedly surrender to being a mom.
Yes, there are challenges that I need to find solutions for – I will need to find a better way of working and I will need to find new ways of looking after myself, but I’m not saying sorry for being a mom. I find so much joy in following my baby’s cues which means I don’t have to stress about sleep training, spoiling baby or right/wrong. I can focus on prioritising what she needs to flourish into a confident and one day, an independent young woman.
I was questioning myself on whether being a mom and sacrificing my independence is wrong and suddenly realised that the epitome of love, Jesus Christ, sacrificed himself so that we can be confident children of God, never doubting in His love. So that answers my question way better than any Facebook group or Google search could ever do. I am surrendering to motherhood and have found so much joy in doing so.
Are all my problems solved? No. Can I stop working and just bask in baby every moment of the day? No. But when everything becomes too much and the balls are starting to drop, I know which balls to drop. My biggest priority will not become my biggest burden. I will gladly face people’s persecution saying that I am doing things wrong for the joy of being a present mother. I can suddenly breathe again, deep breaths in the sweet joy of surrender, of not “doing it all” and “having it all”. I am failing spectacularly at a few things but goodness, I am achieving new heights in others. I would rather succeed in a few things than being average in many things.
This is not a struggle, it’s a victory. This is the best and hardest thing to happen to me and I would choose it over and over again. Because we can never really grow if we are not challenged and this challenge is bringing to light new parts of my identity that I never could have imagined. I am definitely still a work in progress and some days are hard – so hard. But when the storm passes and I look back I see the GRACE that carries me and I think of Paul who wrote to the Philippians saying, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Every mom’s surrender looks different, so never compare where you are to someone else, but I hope and pray that I can remind someone to find joy in where they are right now. It does require sacrifice and sacrifice is painful, but it creates the space for new joy to flourish.
– Someone’s SuperWoman –
‘because there is always someone looking up to you’
📸 LIV Maternity and Newborn Photography