Cheek to cheek, my eight-month-old grandson, Josiah, and I dance in the pool. When his feet dip in the cold water he sucks in his breath and scrunches his face to cry. I pull him close and he smiles. We dance again.
Somehow my presence is enough, in spite of his fear.
Years ago when I was a young mom, I was afraid.
Afraid that I’d mess up the role of motherhood.
Afraid I’d never get it right.
Afraid that I had been so damaged that, like a banged up old suitcase, I’d carry the clutter of my chaotic childhood into the lives of my babies.
There were times I sat on the floor with a child in my arms, tears brimming as I rocked and prayed.
God, this is hard. Lord, how can I be a good mom if no one showed me how? I’m so afraid I’ll mess this up.
One day these words whispered somewhere deep in response.
Do it afraid, Suzie.
Looking back, I believe that God wasn’t asking me to embrace my fears, but to trust in spite of them. To trust that God saw my heart. To trust that He could somehow use this ill-equipped, work-in-progress woman to love and shape three human beings. To trust that every day as I stepped into motherhood, He would meet me there.
Do it afraid became my mantra.
It meant that it was okay to say that I didn’t have all the answers all the time, because no one has all the answers all the time.
It meant that I could stop comparing. If I left the laundry sitting in a chair and took a walk with my three adventurers, the laundry would be waiting when I returned home. If another mom did it differently, that was okay too.
It meant that on those hard days when I felt like I didn’t have a clue, when my knees hit the carpet I was met with mercy and a fresh start for the next day.
And every time I did it afraid, the layers of the past peeled back to reveal who I was today, separate from my childhood.
I was a mom who jumped on the bed. I was a mom who needed to nurture herself, as well as those around her, because I couldn’t run on empty. I was a mom who didn’t have all the answers, but who wasn’t afraid to ask for help when I hit a brick wall.
At some point, do it afraid changed to a quiet assurance.
Sure, motherhood was still a little messy, but my messy wasn’t in my heart, just in the reality of a house full of real-life family.
And somehow His presence was enough, in spite of my fear.