The Impact of Motherhood // Allison Cook
Do you know Allison? Well…you need to! She’s seriously one of the most caring friends and moms around. She’s the wife of the college pastor at church and mom to 2 beautiful little girls. If Nate ever tells you his best friend’s name is “My Abby”….this is her mom. And I’m not-so-secretly hoping that one day, in 20 years, our kids end up together. A mom can dream, right?!?
Hello! Huge thanks to my dear friend, Lacey, for asking me to share how becoming a mom has changed me. My first daughter was born in 2014, and I had my second beautiful daughter just over a year ago. I am married to a faithful, fun-loving husband, and we all adore our fluffy puppy, Charlie. I hope some of my experiences bring you gratitude for your personal moments of mommy bliss as well as the reassurance to know you are in no way alone in the deep struggles that come with being a mom. Because, as I once said to a friend, being a mom is immensely beautiful and also sometimes like being in a deep dark cave of chaos. So let’s jump right in!
Being a mom and my love for Jesus
God made His presence known to me at an early age. I grew up in a Christian home and don’t have much of a memory without God being a part of the picture. I trusted in Christ as a child and tried to walk with God through high school. My faith took a huge leap in college. I gained deep insight into the pure, untarnished grace found in Jesus and my desperate need for it in a way I hadn’t truly understood before. Stepping into motherhood in my late twenties, I had a personal, intimate, trusting walk with God; one that affected how I saw myself and others. However, feeling my first daughter move in my belly was monumental for me. It helped me see my faith more clearly. I couldn’t get enough time in prayer over this new life and psalm 139 specifically kept me in awe of the mystery of how she was being perfectly knit together. After the anticipated delivery day, I couldn’t stop adoring, cherishing, and memorizing every single part of her face. Especially her eyes. My girl has been blessed with some serious lashes. One day as I was rocking her, it hit me deeply – This is how God is with me. He is overcome with love for me and is fiercely proud of me not for anything I have done or will ever do for him. He is my Father. I am His daughter. He is mine. I am His. I have nothing to prove. As a people-pleasing, approval-seeking first born child, that truth was like a wave of security crashing over my very soul. God’s love for me is grounded in what Jesus did for me on the cross and the relationship I have with Him as his daughter. He loves to just cherish me the way I do with my baby girl. That moment has affected my faith in such a delightful way. I am more secure, more peaceful, and more gracious to myself than I ever was before being a mom. When I begin to strain or stress about my faith, I picture that moment rocking my newborn. And I breathe. And I allow myself to just be held and cherished and loved by God himself.
Being and mom and my love for my high school sweetheart
Yes, we dated in high school. No, we didn’t date in college. But through miraculous timing and a Dallas Mavericks basketball game, we got back together after college and were married two years later. Our girls will love that story one day! At first I wanted to cry when Lacey asked me how motherhood has changed my marriage because I was coming off a really hard conversation with my husband about how often we don’t meet each other’s needs and neither of us feels like we measure up – sound familiar? I remember after the birth of my first child feeling more love and intimacy with my husband than I ever had. We could hold her together and feel like time had stopped for our little life. Nothing else mattered. Our marriage had been transformed by a 7 lb baby girl. I have heard many times that the best gift you can give your children is a strong marriage. I whole heartedly believe that. My parents have given my brothers and I that gift. Reading through my dad’s love letters to my mom for their 30 th anniversary was inspiring. But I will say, we are really trying to figure out how to make sense of a strong marriage with a 2 year old and a 1 year old and families and ministry and friends and… you get it. And the answer is obvious. Make each other a priority. Be intentional. Love selflessly. But the reality is most of the time we feel like we have moved into being teammates before playmates or lovers. We are side by side, arm in arm, trying our best in this world with our kids. But side by side means we aren’t facing each other very often. At least for me and my emotional needs, I can feel it. I can feel the loss at times. And of course, having kids together brings new feelings, hopes, and treasures you could never imagine before. It brings LIFE into your marriage. God’s gift to us. It’s truly incredible beyond words. But if I am being honest, there is still a part of me grieving over the loss of our more carefree, brunch at 11am because you woke up at 10:45am, pre-baby body lives. But man, do we need each other in a way we never did before. I have so much respect for my husband and how he leads our family. And I know that this hard and holy work of raising babies together and continuing to fight for romance in the midst of diapers and Daniel Tiger will produce the strong marriage we hope for.
Being a mom and my love for myself
Truth. If talking about how motherhood affects my marriage will make me cry, talking about how it affects my self-image certainly will. And not because its entirely difficult, dark, and twisty (grey’s anatomy reference, and yes, I still shamelessly watch it). But because it’s also beautiful and I feel truly honored to be a mom. Motherhood has given me a deep-rooted purpose and a fierce vision. And certainly, not always in the details of the day to day. Many days I feel lost about what to do about breaking the pacifier or meltdowns or bedtime battles. But I definitely have a vision for the big picture; the prayers I have for our family and the kind of women they will be in their twenties. Because of the gift I have in my children, I feel strong and inspired. I feel alive. And I am truly proud of my body. Even with a “flawed” delivery for my firstborn because I ended in a c-section after a very long labor, I still felt like I had accomplished something heavenly. I couldn’t believe God used my body to make, carry, and birth new life. Now…. what’s difficult is how some of these positive perspectives have wavered or at times crashed and burned after almost three years of being a mom. I find myself loosing that sense of purpose and vision when all I can see is the constant mess and struggle. And there are times when I feel like not having a “career” makes me less of a millennial woman. And while being pregnant and birthing a baby made me forever proud of my body, living with my transformed physique has been emotional to say the least. I am still learning how to walk with confidence and deep security no matter what I look like and also make responsible choices for my health. I am not that woman whose baby weight just melted off with nursing. In some ways, I felt like my body preferred the extra cushion it worked hard to gain over 9 months. What a constant struggle. At least it has been for me in this season of life. And I truly desire to model a positive self-image for my daughters. If that’s not motivation enough, right? And maybe this summer, I can finally gain the confidence to rock a high-waisted two piece? Might as well take advantage of the fashion trends that work in our favor! Wow, as women and moms, we desperately need each other in all these areas. We need to affirm the privilege it is to raise sweet little lives. We need to encourage each other to still focus on our husbands. We need to talk about the complexities and yet simplicity of faith. We need to affirm the beauty we each possess – both inside and out. I don’t know what I would do without all my mom friends. I would laugh a lot less and yell at my kids a whole lot more. And if I have learned anything, you gotta put yourself out there and be real with people. We ain’t got time to hide and pretend. So go tell a friend what a great job they’re doing. We could all use it!