The Deep Waters Of Early Motherhood

You probably already knew this or maybe just forgot, but humans can’t instinctively swim. You could toss a puppy in the water and it can doggy paddle right away. But humans are prone to drowning.


Before I became a mother, I wondered if I would sink or swim if thrown into motherhood. Are some women built to swim and others to sink in motherhood? Would I have the skill and ability to thrive or barely keep my head above water?


A year ago we started swim lessons with our son shortly before he turned 2. It took him a couple lessons before he felt comfortable. The swim classes required parents to come in the water with their toddler. It makes complete sense since they still need to be held while kicking around in the water. He wasn’t skilled yet to swim on his own. He needed me there to spot him.


I remember doing swim lessons when I was a kid. I think I started when I was around 6. My swim teacher thought it was funny to pull me up by my ponytail if I didn’t come out of the water fast enough. Of course, I did not find this amusing. Nonetheless, she taught me how to swim and I’m much more confident in the water because of it.


Here I am in early motherhood. I survived two newborn stages and now I am in the shallow end of toddlerhood. Honestly, there are days I feel like I am holding my breath just to make it to the next stage. Occasionally, I find other mothers hanging off the edge of this shallow pool of toddlerhood. I remember being warned about this stage, but I had no idea it would exhaust me to my core. There are days (many days) I’m convinced I wasn’t made to do this. It takes a gentle soul to raise a toddler. No, it takes a saint or God himself to raise a toddler.

“There are days (many days) I’m convinced I wasn’t made to do this. It takes a gentle soul to raise a toddler. No, it takes a saint or God himself to raise a toddler.”


We took a break from swim lessons a while back because Kelly became easily frustrated. He was resisting direction from the teacher and wanted to do his own thing.

This sounds all too familiar. Here I am thrown into motherhood, only to be ungrateful to learn. I become easily frustrated and my patience is tested daily. I wouldn’t have faced these refining moments unless placed into motherhood. So yes – I wasn’t made to do this, but I’m confident God is shaping me to be a better mother and human. It is now more than ever I am drawn to God because it takes God to raise a toddler, not just a mother or a tribe. Motherhood is humbling and I am reminded constantly of my great need to rely on Christ and his endless grace. As I search to understand, I see God is the ultimate parent: slow to anger, grace giving and guiding.


When I was in 6th grade, I went to a local river for a school field trip. One of the smaller girls in my class got swept up by the current. I didn’t think twice and jumped in to save her. I swam as fast as I could to reach her. She was frantic and waving her body around. My little 6th-grade body couldn’t pull her to shore, so I found a boulder to hold us until an adult came and got us. If it wasn’t for all those swim lessons, I wouldn’t have been able to swim to help that girl, or even worse, I would have been that girl.


We will start up swim lessons again for my son. It will most likely be a struggle, but I know if he keeps at it, trusts and follows the instructor he will soon learn to swim.

Maybe early motherhood is like learning to swim. You have no idea what to do until you begin to listen to the instructor.



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