Cleansed by Parenthood
For me, becoming a parent has been like catching the most enormous wave. The moment you hear that cry, the wave picks you up and carries you away.
Carries you to fresh waters, and immerses you in newness like never before. New love, new beauty, new demands, new sounds, new rhythms…
I was cleared to exercise again at my final doctor visit the other day… And I’m in disbelief that it’s been seven whole weeks since I worked out. You probably have to know me to understand… This is the longest I’ve gone without exercising since sixth grade. No joke. Some kind of fire was lit in me about fitness at an early age, and I never looked back. I’m extremely disciplined by nature; so over the years exercise has been as routine as brushing my teeth. And it continued to be for my entire pregnancy.
…And then our baby boy arrived.
We heard that cry, fell head over heels, and everything changed in an instant.
And the changes weren’t just emotional – they were physical, too. Birthing a child makes demands of a woman’s body that can’t be matched by any other experience. Never have you been asked to do and give so much while your body is trying to mend itself on pockets of deep but broken sleep. And if you’re going to heal, rest – not exercise – is the needed balm.
So for about seven weeks, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve breathed a sigh of relief, rested, and enjoyed our son. It’s been healing in more ways than one. Cleansing, actually.
To cease doing something that had been part of my daily regimen for nearly two decades has been a holy thing for me. Physical rest has very much yielded spiritual rest.
And now, just like that, I’ve been cleared to work out again. Nearly two months have unfolded in the blink of an eye, and I have the go-ahead to restart this thing that has been such a big part of my life.
Only, I’m a different person than I was eight weeks ago. The zealous discipline I pictured instantly reappearing (before I became pregnant) hasn’t. Something [someone] has turned my world upside down in the best ways possible, and smashed the rules that used to govern my time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m excited to get moving again and have already done a few preliminary sets of donkey kicks. [Again, you probably have to know me to appreciate this. Just message me if you want to know about this all-time favorite glute exercise of mine!] I’m starting to move, and I won’t lie – I’ve been happy to see my belly shrink and look forward to regaining my pre-pregnancy stomach. [I’m still a woman, afterall.]
But despite my excitement to be moving again, something inside of me has changed. Permanently. This exercise thing just can’t have the size slice in my life that it used to. It’ll be present, but in a new way… sitting noticeably lower on my list.
I’ve seen this same cleansing take place in Andrew, too. For him, it’s been a five month withdrawal from golf. A holy ceasation from something that’s as big a part of him as exercise has been for me. Interestingly, the weekend I was cleared to work out again was the same weekend he ended up picking up his clubs again for the first time.
Becoming a parent is wild. Much like a fast, it forces you into stillness and ceasation where there used to be consuming activity. You’re asked to lay down some things – good things- that simply don’t belong in such a sacred season. Eventually, those closed doors reopen… But when you walk through them again, it’s different from before. You’re different. Some things just don’t have the hold on you they once did.
“There’s no turning back to who we once were.” My dear friend wrote these words to me in a card a few days ago. We walked through seminary together as wives and students, and now, we’re both mothers.
I don’t know if any truer words could be said about becoming a parent. There really is no turning back… and no desire to.
That giant wave has carried me to better, brighter waters, and cleansed me in ways I didn’t even know I needed.
“It is a profound gift for God to interrupt our tightly controlled lives
with something (someone) so unbelievably consuming as to rewrite all our rules…”
[wise words from my sweet cousin, Michele]