The Joys and Fears of New Parenthood in our Beautiful and Scary World – By Shanna Bernier
Spirited Reflection – Sunday, January 19, 2014
Shanna works in Youth Ministry in Montreal and Ottawa Conference of the United Church of Canada and has a background in Arts Education. She and her husband live with their daughter Bea in Sherbrooke QC.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34
Nine Months ago I became a Mom. My husband and I were very excited about welcoming our baby into the world. We went to great lengths to create a space in the world and our lives that was safe and warm and ready for her. Becoming a mother is a very weird experience. It doesn’t happen all at once. Instead it sort of creeps in between the 2 am feedings and the poop explosions. You don’t suddenly feel complete, but rather, in my experience, I get these rushes of overwhelming joy mixed with fear. I am so grateful that Baby Bea is in my life. Every evening, as I am going to sleep I thank God for the blessings in my life. I think about all the wonderful moments that her existence has provided for me and my husband. Her birth has also provided a catalyst for our family to actively be more grateful. We have begun to create rituals in our little family, regularly saying a blessing of Thanksgiving before meals. Sharing with Bea stories of people’s lives and teaching her about love and compassion. Before she was born we attended Church regularly in our community, but since her arrival worship has taken on new meaning for me. We are creating a community now. She makes me a more patient youth worker. Her presence makes me a better leader, a more engaged member of the larger Church. We are teaching another person about the love of God and the joy of being in a faith filled place. We are teaching her to seek Justice and Love Kindness.
Parenthood is not all sunshine and roses though. Bad days and worry are also present. Fear creeps into my heart and my mind and fills me with anxiety. Some of my worries are silly. Some of them are unfounded and unlikely to ever transpire. The first few weeks of parenthood had me spending a lot of moments listening for the tiny song of Baby Bea’s breath as she slept, praying that she would continue to breathe and not succumb to spontaneous and mysterious infant death. Now that I am nine months into this gig I find myself with bigger questions and bigger fears. I worry that Bea will grow up in a continuously destabilizing climate with greater and greater global consequences. I worry about what our nation and other nations are going to do as the oil (or other natural resources) run out. I worry about the millions of children who are hungry and cold and who won’t get to go to school and be whatever they dream of being. I want to work to change and mend and shape the world so that my baby and all the babies can have no fear; so that they can be safe and warm and loved. This task seems daunting and impossible at times. Motherhood can be very overwhelming. I know there is a balance; a balance between fear and hope, a balance between work and home, a balance found in experience and practice. I also must remind myself daily that nothing is gained in worrying. It doesn’t diminish the struggle or right the wrongs, it just makes us feel awful in the meantime.
When I find myself overwhelmed with the task of raising my child in a world so wrought with injustice, I think that faith is my greatest tool. I have faith that God will be with us as we struggle and faith that we are here on this planet for a purpose. I know that the choices my family is making to encourage Bea to grow up a compassionate and grateful human being will help shape the world, even in some small way. I know that whatever happens along our journey, being a mom is a gift and for that I am truly grateful.