It is no secret that being a mom changes you. The cute little bundle of joy tugs at your heart-strings. Sleepless nights start to add up until that magic night where they sleep through the night, and you still wake up to make sure he’s ok. It changes the relationship you have with your husband. It changes how you think of your own mother. It changes how long it takes it takes to pick three things up from the grocery store. Being a mom changes everything. It is an adjustment. It can make you a roller coaster of emotions. It can be hard and rewarding.
The hardest thing that I have experienced so far is not the sleepless nights, the crying, the changes to my body, or the added time it takes to do anything. The hardest thing for me has been learning to accept kindness. The kindness and giving of others. It has been difficult to allow people to serve me, to give of their time and talents, to give of their money and resources. This has been the hardest part of having a baby.
There have been many opportunities in my life where I have been the recipient of kindness, selfless service, and gifts. I have had tremendous support at every milestone of my life. This time however, something changed me. Something brought the magnitude of each act of service and each gift. I began to see truly the love and support of those around me. To say that I feel selfishly spoiled being surrounded by such giving people would be an understatement. I can not begin to put into words how I have changed through being served and accepting the kindness of other people during this joyful time.
Little W was born 2 months ago but the kindness started long before that. The first moment of kindness that comes to mind was when I told my best friend I was pregnant she got me baby lotion. A simple gift that represented the love and joy she felt for me. Something that I would not have ever thought to do if the roles were reversed.
Later, when I was about 24 weeks along we were in NYC and an older lady offered me her seat on the subway. As all kind people do she had plenty of reasons she could have stayed in her seat and let me stand. She had a bunch of bags and things to keep track of. I tried twice to decline but she insisted that I sit down and take care of that little baby in my belly. A few stops later she got another seat, but soon gave that seat up too to someone else.
The kindness continued with the more than generous gifts received at my baby shower. Many hours were put into the preparation; folding napkins into bow ties, making games and decorations, preparing food. Everyone was so giving, I mean more than generous. Our car was loaded with clothes, toys, diapers, books and more. As I put all of those gifts away my heart swelled with gratitude. No one took the easy route or skimped. Everyone had been so generous and kind and if the roles had reversed would I have been so kind?
After Little W was born the kindness continued to pour in. While I was still in the hospital my family went grocery shopping for us and loaded our fridge with fresh fruit and meals to eat when we got home. Family and friends drove down the day he was born to celebrate with us. Women at church sewed blankets or knitted little baby booties. Then again on Sunday as Little W was blessed (christened) we were flooded with an outpouring of support. Family and friends drove to celebrate. They brought food. They celebrated with us. We have been overwhelmed with the joy that people have shared with us and the kindness they have given. It has continued to come and just last week our neighbors threw a baby shower even though we do not ‘need’ anything.
The key though that has changed me, is that word ‘need’. You don’t just serve when someone is in need. You don’t give just when it is required of you. You give because it is the right thing to do.
We could all go around, like I did, waiting to be needed. Waiting to be called upon to serve, for the need to be made apparent. For the sign up sheet to be passed around or to be asked to give, to get an invite. I have learned from the family and friends in my life what it means to follow the Savior and to serve his children. I have learned not to give my leftover time and resources. People didn’t do that for me. I wasn’t something that was pushed to the bottom of the list or saved until it was convenient. No one waited until I asked for their help or expressed a need. I wasn’t just something they checked off. I was a real person who they took the opportunity to celebrate with.
All of my life I had been told to mourn with those that mourn and to comfort those in need. Until this point in my life I had never considered that we are to rejoice with those that are rejoicing, celebrate with those that are celebrating. Part of being a disciple is being there when the times are rough, and maybe those are the most needed times. But, being a disciple is being there in all times, good and bad.
It is being compassionate during the death of a loved one. It is taking an interest when their mom has cancer. It means continually checking in when their grandma is in the hospital. It is buying baby lotion to celebrate with them. It is taking dinner, not because it is really needed but because you can. It is driving to support milestones and accomplishments. It is supporting the newly wedded couple. It is celebrating the joy of having a baby.
Sometimes we are the givers, sometimes we are the receivers. Both are important, and you couldn’t have one without the other. So when it is your turn to give, give. When it is your turn to receive, graciously accept the kindness of those giving to you. I have learned in having my little guy to accept the kindness of others. In return, and hopefully more impactful and changing, I have learned how to give.