Written by: Shenise Gatson
I never knew a lot about taking care of kids.
Growing up, I often shied away from holding newborn babies.
New mothers would often smile and ask me, “Hey, you want to hold the baby?”
Although babies are absolutely adorable, my response would always be, “Um, well….They’re so little. I’ll hold the baby when he or she is a little older.” When people brought up the idea of babysitting or leaving me alone with a baby, toddler, or young child, my mind screamed, “Me?” and “Are you sure you want to leave them alone with me?”
I pictured not being able to handle the situation, things going haywire and even the kid looking at me like, “What are you doing?”
Although I grew up in a family of educators and teachers, I was the one who had absolutely no idea what to do with a child. My mother was always the expert. During my youth, she was the director of a daycare center and also taught in the classroom for many years. She loved kids and kids loved her. She had an enveloping warmth about her. Children gravitated to her inside and outside of the classroom. With her bright smile, comforting gaze, and jovial mannerisms, she was the life of the party and the light in their day. If she was absent from the classroom or out sick, their excitement dimmed. To this day, I miss the light she brought to every room. I miss her.
Unfortunately, I always felt like I didn’t have that same warmth and effect on children.
I also didn’t have the classic “baby fever” (a colloquial term for the intense desire to have a baby). As I got older, I never thought I would be a mother. Due to a medical illness, I had ruled it out of my plans. When I met my husband and found out I was pregnant, my stomach dropped. I took three tests and stared at those lines in shock. My mind could not comprehend what was happening in that moment. All of the following was going through my mind:
“How are we going to take care of a baby?”
“Are we ready for this?”
“Me? I’m going to have a baby?”
“I’m not ready for this!”
“I can’t do this!”
“What is happening right now?”
When the realization hit home, a lot of emotions hit me all at once. Fear. Panic. Sadness.
Fear – I am scared of how my life will change. What will things look like? There are things I wanted to accomplish before I start bringing children into the picture!
Panic – Oh my goodness! I don’t know how to raise a child!
Sadness – My mother is ill and nearing the end of her life. I can’t call her. I can’t get her advice. She may not make it to see this baby grow up.
The strongest of these emotions was doubt.
Doubt – Can I do this?
You might be wondering….why doubt? Many women around the world are having children and raising children with success. I had so many great examples in front of me. So why couldn’t I be one of those examples? I am the type of person that replays conversations in my mind. When something hurtful or memorable happens to me, I replay the scenario over in my mind. Even though I know it isn’t healthy, my mind does it anyway.
So I recalled a moment several years ago when I was holding a relative’s baby. I remember nervously holding and trying to console the baby. Nearby a family member watched me, chuckling to herself. She said aloud, “You know you need to give that child back to her mom. You don’t know what to do with a baby….”
Although it might seem like nothing to someone reading this, those words cut me. Reminded me of everything I thought about myself at that time. A year after that event, I stood there pregnant with my own baby. I wondered if I could give my own baby what she needed.
Soon, it was time to share the news with my mom. Although my hubby and I had discussed it multiple times, we hesitated for so long because of how ill my mom was. She was in a nursing home due to multiple illnesses and was nearing the end of her life.Some days she seemed to recognize us. Other days not so much.When we walked in, she lay in bed staring straight ahead. Her eyes were unfocused and had that far away look. We greeted, touched her hand, and kissed her face.
“Mama…..” I began, then hesitated. My husband nodded for me to continue. “Mama, I’m going to have a baby”.
There was silence. That far away look in her eyes. Then split second recognition.After a moment, she began to smile. Her voice was small, “You’re going to have a little girl”.
My husband and I stared at each other in shock. “What did you say, Mama?” I asked, thinking I heard her wrong.
But she didn’t repeat herself. Near the end of her life, she would often do that. She would share a shocking revelation that we on earth could not necessarily see yet, and then go silent. She would only say it once, so you had to listen carefully.
During my ultrasound, the tech revealed proudly, “You’re having a girl!”
We looked up to heaven with tears in our eyes. My husband pointed to the sky, shaking his head. “Wow, she was right”.
“How did she know I was going to have a little girl?” I asked him in awe.
In March 2016, I had a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Unfortunately, my mother had departed by that time. I miss her everyday and I will always cherish the mother she was to me. As I stared into the eyes of the amazing infant lying on my chest, I noticed that she looked confused to be in a new environment. She was probably wondering, “Where am I? What is going on?”
As a mom, I have also had many moments like that. I have asked myself, “Where am I? What is going on? What am I doing?”
I may not have known everything going into motherhood, but the great part is….I learned along the way. And I’m still learning everyday. I’m so grateful for the bundle of joy that entered my life and for the support of my husband as we continuously navigate the journey of parenthood together.
I never thought I would have kids. I had ruled it out of my plans.
But God had other plans. To this day, I am grateful for Him and this blessing.
My maze to motherhood has been filled with twists, turns, highs, lows, and successes.
It has been both marvelous and mystifying.
My beautiful baby girl and husband changed my life for the better.
And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Copyright @ 2018 Shenise Gatson
“Baby fever”. Urbandictionary.com. 2018. Web. 24 October 2018.
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