Has life gone in a different direction than you originally planned? This week’s Faith Notes guest post on motherhood, loss, and redemption comes from Dr. Amy F. Davis Abdallah:
“Losing My Independence”
At 18, I had plans for my life. I’d meet my lifelong lover in college, stay at home and have babies, work and then we’d travel together in our twilight years. But life didn’t turn out at all as I thought it would.
Instead of becoming a wife and mother, I lived briefly in Paraguay, South America, and began a ministry, teaching, and writing career that took me all the way to a Ph.D., a professorship at Nyack College, composing The Book of Womanhood, and a rites of passage ministry to young adults. Eventually, marriage followed.
At 39, I vowed lifelong love to a man. Two years later, I birthed a beautiful boy.
We brought him home, and I wanted to be fully and deeply delighted with it all. But my son was a super-hungry slow nurser, and I suddenly had someone physically connected to me for hours on end. When I looked at his angelic sleeping face, I remembered delight, but so often he was sucking the life out of me.
Had I chosen formula, this child could still not get along without me; he needed me.
Overnight and seemingly without warning, I completely lost my independence. Some losses happen by choice and some just happen; mine was related to my choice of having a family, but I didn’t anticipate that choosing family had a cost.
For years I did what I wanted when I wanted, hardly realizing this privilege was not normative for those with a spouse or children. I traveled at my convenience, slept when it worked for me, and even worked the hours I chose, since professorship is so flexible. Funny thing is, I often disliked that very independence when I had it. I would stay out to avoid the empty home, and spent years longing for companionship—the kind that isn’t only for a short while, but for life.
Marriage saw me losing a little independence, but he’s a mature adult that could get along without me. And then the baby came; what I longed for came, and in that great gain there was also independence lost. And it was just the beginning.
I can never again do what I want without thinking of others; they’re always in my mind, in my heart, and on my lips. And this doesn’t end in my lifetime. While the intensity of the season varies, I’m always connected as their mom.
And while the cost was steep, I would pay it over and over and over, because it’s worth it; today he’s a truly delightful two-year-old, and we did it again: he has an infant brother.
I’m grateful: grateful that I had a long time of independence that I never would have known had my 18-year-old plans succeeded. And I’m grateful today for the dependence.
The wisdom of Proverbs states, “Many are the plans of a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (NIV).
God’s purpose is delightfully good.
Dr. Amy F. Davis Abdallah lives outside of NYC. She writes, teaches, and speaks to empower women and men to live well, love God, themselves, and others, and transform the world! Website: amyfdavisabdallah.com Twitter @amyfdavisa