On motherhood and fear [and the only prayer that really matters]

It started filling me the moment I saw those two pink lines there in the bathroom on Christmas Eve. The test, plastic and insignificant to most people walking through the grocery store aisle suddenly became the most significant object I’ve known as I laid it on the small edge of the counter by the sink. One line was fainter than the other. Thank goodness for friends who respond to your text messages asking, “what does this mean?”

It filled me as I took a blanket out to our worn-in couch, my husband’s from his college years. It filled me as I tried to journal and tried to think and tried to pray.
I sat, staring in to the empty sky, the sun doing its best to poke through–the way the excitement and joy was poking through the fear.
Fear. It overcame me for weeks. And I’ve carried it on my back like a bag filled with heavy rocks ever since the day.
Twenty-eight weeks later, he’s moving and flipping inside of me. I feel his gentle kicks–the way he responds when my husband gently rubs my stomach, once so flat and small and smooth. And even now, I feel it. And somehow understand the dark circles that form  under my parents’ eyes–the graying of their hair when we call them upset or concerned. The tears in their eyes as we drive away.
Because worrying about your children never goes away. 
And it begins the day you find out you’re carrying life inside of you. 
No one told me this part of becoming a mother. That your heart is overcome with the fear of so many things. That it’s not just the stretching ligaments or the pain or the nausea or the hormones that keep you up at night. But that it’s also the thoughts and the questions that circle round and round like a carousel ride. That you’re just riding it over and over as the second hand of the clock slowly makes the journey of its own. How many times already have I had dreams about cloth diapers and baby swings and health?
I lay awake thinking of the baby monitors that monitor their oxygen levels and the baby products that are free from harmful chemicals and all of the hundreds of words from blogs I’ve read the last 171 days. We are told to be afraid of all that can happen. We are told that we have the ability to buy our circumstances.
But if I quiet my own voice long enough, I hear a calmer once. A sweet assurance.
How do I make sure my labor goes the way it should?
You can’t. But I will be with you.
How will I keep him healthy? 
I will sustain him. I made him. He is mine.
How will I keep him safe? 
All if out of your control. I will protect him under the shelter of my wings.
How do I make sure every little thing he puts in his body fuels him the way You intended?
You can’t. You can only do your best.
How do I make sure that he grows up to be a good man?
You point him to me.
And as my husband’s dark eyelashes lay down heavy against his face, I lift up prayers–staring out towards the dim light that peeks in through the living room window.
And my silent, worried prayers ask that more than health and safety and provision–more than anything else–that this little man-child inside of me knows his real father. The one who made him. The one who knew him before I ever did. Who has good plans for him.
And if I know anything from my own story, it’s that no one can keep themselves or their children from pain. From health issues. From hurt feelings. From road blocks and mistakes. Don’t I know that my parents would have tried.
Those things will come. And nothing in me has the power to stop them. And so, I’m convinced that the only way to counter fear and the heavy burden of being a parent is to pray the only prayer that really matters. That they will know God. That they will turn to him when they can no longer carry the pain themselves.
Because in all things, God wipes away every tear, has a plan in all things, and carries us through.
I breath in and exhale, remembering that this baby will be taken care of if I do the most important part of being a mother–remembering that he was never mine to begin with.

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