Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Motherhood and the Illusion of Control
This shouldn't come as a surprise. Everyone likes to have control in their life. They like to choose, or know who is doing the choosing for them. I can even have control when Michael asks me what I want when he runs out to get take-out and I say "Surprise me." I know Michael. I know that he knows what I like. I know that I'll get something I enjoy. If it's a place we've been before, chances are he'll probably get something for me that he knows I've already ordered. I can have control by anticipating what will happen and figuring out how I'll react to that something.
Motherhood is the best thing I've found so far to teach me that control is an illusion. It never really existed in the first place, but to keep my mind from going crazy, I try to assume that I have control until I don't.
I should have known, when I had Evvie two weeks early, that I wasn't in control. When my labor lasted 23 hours because I got stuck at 6 centimeters and needed an epidural even though I wanted to do it naturally, I should have seen that control was not real. When my milk came in late and I had tons of nerves because Evvie's weight wasn't where it should be immediately, I should have known that control was just an illusion. Sleeping through the night, self-soothing, falling asleep on her own for naps, actually TAKING naps, growth bench marks, teething, and unpredictability should have all clued me in.
My first big realization came when we took Evvie to a friend's wedding in Tennessee. It was a 6-7 hour car ride, and Evvie didn't sleep for most of it. Then she cried all the next day and slept for maybe 30 minutes. And on the third day, the drive home, she slept equally as little. I did everything I could think of to get my baby to sleep, but because she's a human being with likes and dislikes and is in control of her body, she didn't. I merely had to deal with her mess, or ask Michael to, because I was playing for the wedding. Because I was worrying, because I was controlling, I also tried to control Michael, who had graciously come along as baby-sitter. We argued because of that.
Next came Evvie's weight loss. My child seems to have the appetite of a sumo wrestler. She's not even crawling yet, but I'm chasing her all over the place. At her nine-month Dr visit, the Dr said "She's underweight. Put as many calories in her as possible. Come back in two weeks for a weight check." Control went out the window. I knew my milk supply had been down. I talked with the lactation consultant on how to bring it up. I fed Evvie more fatty foods. She took on more weight and chunked up. Hurrah! But then she started teething again and suddenly she didn't want to nurse. Control gone again. Many times I found myself wishing I could just force Evvie to nurse, instead of listening to her needs (gums hurt = nursing hurts). While she was supposed to be gaining weight, she didn't want to nurse. Lovely.
I worried constantly. I fell into fear. I justified my worry because if I was worrying about something I would have a better chance of figuring out how to fix it, right? I refused to accept that there was simply nothing I could do to make Evvie do what I wanted her to do. So I drove Michael crazy. And we argued. I went kicking and screaming to God after that argument. I told him that I felt abandoned by him. I asked him why he made me a mother and then gave me a body that made it really really hard to provide what my baby needed in terms of food. I heard him whisper that it was because I wasn't in control of anything in the first place and that I needed to trust him. I had become over-confident and this was his way of showing me that I needed to trust him for control of my life. I asked him for peace and he gave it to me.
Amazingly, I think we forget to ask God for what we need. We ask and ask and ask for the things we want, or for the things that we see other people need, but we are so blind to our own true needs, that we don't ask him for the things we really need. All we really need is a right view of ourselves and a right view of God. This applies to the time and place that you are in, and not just that you are a great sinner and God is a great savior. My right view of myself is that I am needy, I am not in control, and I am not as clever at coming up with solutions as I think I am. My right view of God is that he needs nothing so he can give everything, he is in control of all things (even the smallest atom), and that he is infinitely clever and wise. Resting in those knowledges helped me have peace.
Evvie is now back on track with her weight, and I'm waiting to see my need to control rear its ugly head again. However, I know that my God is faithful to pull me back to himself by showing me as many times as I need that he is really the only one in control.