This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura Wifler, with my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen. Today we’re talking about a very commonly asked question, especially from the Ask Us Anything Show earlier this Spring. The question is, "How do you transition from one to two, or beyond? And, do you have any tips or suggestions to navigate this new season?" The principles we’re going to share for today apply to whether you’re bringing a child into the family through foster care, adoption, or childbirth. Obviously, we’re not getting into some of the nuances that bringing an older child in does bring into a family or a child with special needs, but we’re doing it on a general level here today.
Emily: We’ve both been through transitions.
Laura: We’re both pregnant now.
Emily: So we have transitions [laughter] on the horizon because, yes, within a few months, Laura’s going to be going from two to three, and I am going to be going from four to five [laughs].
Laura: That is a big number, Em. Yes, we’re five weeks apart. I’ve only done it once, but going from one to two was pretty tough for me, I’ll be honest. How was your transitions, Em? You’ve been through a lot more than me [laughter].
Emily: It’s funny because as I was thinking about this, actually my transition from one to three was the easiest one I did, and that was when I had twins. I think it’s because everybody expected me to have a really hard time, and I expected me to have a really hard time. Basically people gave me a ton of space to transition and people were super helpful. I had help forever. People were so kind and understanding when I backed out of commitments. They were just great. It was so healthy for me, even though it was really hard. Then when I transitioned from three to four, I felt like people were like, “No, she’s good, she’s been through twins, she’s an expert now.” [laughter] Not to say like family; people were so helpful. But I feel it was more expected that I was going to pull myself together and do it well. I was much, much harder on myself. I had a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress in my most recent transition. I am just a little bit apprehensive and trying to figure out how to adjust my expectations this next time.
Laura: It’s funny because when you’re a first-time mom, there’s a ton of help usually. You’re having all the baby showers, all the excitement. Then you transition with all the meals and everyone’s wondering how you’re doing. Then you have two, maybe it’s three or four, and it’s like, “You’re a veteran now.” [laughter]
Emily: I know. People are like, “You’re pregnant? Who cares?” [laughter]
Laura: You know like, “Let’s move on with life.” It’s just funny how that changes, and our expectations set us up to rise or fall to the occasion.
Emily: That was one of the main things we wanted to touch on in this show—expectations—and also why is this a question that we stress out about so much?
Laura: We have gotten this question a lot. A lot of moms seem to have a ton of anxiety around the topic or worry about, “Oh, what’s it going to be like?” So really the question we asked ourselves, Emily and I is, “Hey, why are we getting asked this question so often?” There’s tons of articles online of course—Google has it as an autofill, it has a million hits on Pinterest. Why is this so popular as a source of angst for moms? The short answer, for when people are like, “What do I do?” I am like, “Survive. You just survive!” You just do it moment by moment. Seriously. But at the same time...
Emily: It’s the unknown.
Laura: It is.
Emily: It’s something that feels like it’s going to be out of my control.
Laura: It is out of your control [laughter].
Emily: We’re not very encouraging, yet [laughter]. Sorry. But actually what it comes down to is realizing we’re limited, and things are not in our control. And that is scary.
Laura: Yes. But we have gospel-hope for you all.
Emily: Yes, we have a great answer. So we’re just going to be Risen Motherhood, we’re going to talk through how the gospel applies here. But first of all, we wanted to just touch on creation, and just reminding all of us that adding life to your family is a great thing. This is part of God’s good plan; He loves children. They are a blessing, not a burden. So don’t view a family transition as this really bad thing that God is forcing you to go through. It may be hard, and we’re going to talk more about that, but, ultimately, this is a great thing, and God loves life.
Laura: But if we look at the fall, of course it brings in all of our human weakness. It reveals that weakness, and pregnancy is one of those things, too, that really reveals a lot of physical weakness that can mimic our spiritual and emotional weakness, in a sense. Family transitions like adding more kids to the family really brings a lot of those things to the surface. So we’re fighting that battle with impatience and irritability and anger—we’re limited. We’re just realizing how we can’t do it all, and it’s stuck in our face when we transition.
Emily: That is so counter-cultural, because the mom-culture that we live in right now says, “Look, if you just get really organized and you just exercise right and eat right and nap when the baby naps and you do all these things, you’re going to be able to overcome anything”. But we know deep down the reality is we are limited, and that is the fall, but also God’s grace that he shows that to us.
Laura: Redemption! So that is our limitation, as Emily is talking about, and our weakness; those are not the things that earn us favor or standing with God. Another thing with our weakness is Jesus was totally clothed in all weakness, just like us. Fully man, yet he lived a perfect life and went to the cross in our place so that we could experience the full benefits of living in relationship with him, which means you can, and you now have the ability to live a life sold out for the gospel. You can reveal that and show that to your children every stinking day during a family transition. You can have this well of patience and love and long-suffering and all those things we deal with when we’re transitioning with our toddlers and our babies, because of what Christ did on the cross.
Emily: Yes, and because our hearts are resting—even as we look ahead to what we’ve been restored to and looking at our daily circumstances, our life in the trenches, as those things are going to change and they’re going to feel out of our control because that’s not where we’re placing our hope—we can endure that because we are walking with a God who is unchanging. Something that’s really helped me is to remember God’s promises; that often he doesn’t promise that things are going to be easy. He doesn’t promise that he’s going to spare us from sleepless nights or from gassy babies or whatever the thing is. But he does promise he will always be with us. He will never forsake us; He will fulfill all our spiritual needs.
Laura: We can rest in that. So let’s move on to the practical because we know you all want it.
Emily: Yes, and we like it too.
Laura: We like it too. We love it too, we just feel sometimes nervous to get there, because it’s just very subjective. But, we’re going to try to weave the gospel into this stuff of course. So, expect your kids are going to change.
Laura: Oh, yes?
Emily: I was just going to say this is about our expectations.
Laura: Yes, Emily’s right.
Emily: But I don’t have a cool, brilliant point to add in there.
Laura: I thought it was a cool point.
Laura: But she’s still right. Yes, so you have to expect that your children and their expectations are going to change their behavior. I know a lot of especially moms who have one kid are like, “Ah my toddler is being a weird because I am pregnant."
Emily: They’re going crazy.
Laura: Yes, because they’re like dogs, they have a sixth sense. Just expect that your child, before the baby comes, can sense it. When the baby comes, when the baby starts crawling, when the baby starts walking—all these changes—your other kids are going to change too. They are going to be affected, but this is a time when you can show grace and patience, to expect it, and work through it with your kids.
Emily: Indeed. Good training moments. More expectations; you’re going to need help which is hard, again. Recognize that limitation and that we were made to live in community. And sometimes it’s a really great thing when we go through seasons, where we feel dependent, not only on God, but others. Another thing to keep in mind is, some of you guys may have grandparents or other people that have to be your proxy parent in the meantime, and that can feel really out of control and really stressful. But just an encouragement; we’ve been through that a lot and you can always come back out of it.
Laura: The next one is just to expect chaos. Nothing is going to be under control. It’s not in your control as we mentioned earlier. It has always been true that you are not in control. But transitions have this wonderful way of highlighting that truth right in your face. Just remember that God’s sovereign over the children that did come into your family, the timing, the spacing of when the kids are coming into the family. So you can trust that God is good, that he is in control and not you. So give things extra time. What else would you say, Em?
Emily: Speaking of time, expect you’re going to have less of it. Go ahead and have that expectation before the baby comes home. We know motherhood is always going to be this season of sacrifice, and it’s hard because you’re going to feel like there’s even more. You’re like, “In case I thought I’d got to the end of it, no, there’s more to give with more children." But God is really gracious, I feel, to expand our love and expand our capacity in ways that are beyond what we’re capable of. He’s really gracious with help in all kinds of things.
Laura: Know that your self-care might be on the back-burner for a little bit of time, and Emily and I even always try to remind each other like, “This is just a short-term new routine”. With kids, you’re always changing new routines. It’s every six months or every three months sometimes, where you’re like, “Establish a routine, enjoy it for three months, move to the next routine.” So if you can, take your naps, try to get out and get a pedicure, manicure, whatever it is that fills you up. I know for my Mothers’ Day of my son’s first birthday—it was around Mothers’ Day—I asked my husband for a full night’s sleep and I didn’t have to respond to my son one time.
Emily: That’s an awesome gift. [laughs]
Laura: I was like, “I don’t have to see my son. I love him so much,” but I was like, “I can’t see him in the middle of the night.” I pumped and just got to sleep. It was one of the best Mothers’ Day gifts I ever had. My son wasn’t one; he was like five weeks old.
Emily: That makes a lot more sense. [laughs]
Laura: He was a newborn, and I just pumped for that whole night, and it was really wonderful to be able to just pump, sleep, go to bed, and not deal with dirty diapers. No. It was great, thanks.
Emily: What was the last one here? This is our big point. [laughs] Yes. Expect that you are going to need this gospel truth more than ever. The main thing that we really wanted to remind ourselves of, and to bring out in this show, is that sometimes we look at these transitions—I look at transitions like this: as something I dread a little bit, and they’re a bad thing. But in God’s kingdom, in light of the gospel, these types of situations are good. This is where big transforming heart work happens. When I look back and go, “When are the times that God has transformed me the most and helped me repent of sin and trust him more are the times like these, when I’ve been totally helpless and dependent and exhausted and at the end of myself.
Laura: When you’re in your weakest points like that, is you know all you have is Jesus. All you have is Christ.
Emily: I don’t even have a clean shirt on, I am wearing sweatpants, again. [laughter]
Laura: Haven’t showered in four days.
Emily: All I have is Christ. [laughter]
Laura: And you know what, all you need is Christ. That is the end and the beginning. When we are in our high-strung points, we think like, “Oh I have all these other things that I need, plus Jesus”. Or those posters that are like, “Jesus and Coffee.” But, you don’t need coffee, you don’t need naps. Emily’s giving me a look of like, “Well you do need...”
Emily: Not at a high level, but I get it.
Laura: Okay, so roll with me here [laughter]. But I do think it’s this false lie that we tell ourselves, that we need all these things. Our weakness says, “If you have Christ, you have everything”. That really pulls that out and defines that for you, and you can look back. Both Emily and I have said, when we’ve gone through hard things—family transitions or other things—those are moments that we look back and see transformation that lasts long-term, long into the future, even if it was a short-term painful moment.
Emily: It’s those things that get stripped away from you, like what Laura was saying. We have a lot of security blankets that probably don’t provide us as much security as we like to think they do. It’s God’s mercy that he peels those things back in these times, shows us what’s really going on in our heart, what we really love, what we really value. It’s just striking when we get to connect with God in that time. That was really all that we wanted to encourage you in is that, wherever you are—if you just had a baby, or you’re getting ready to have your next baby—when you get into that moment, you’re exhausted, you’re like, “This is chaotic, this is crazy, I didn’t know I was going to feel this stressed out.”
Laura: You just want to cry.
Emily: Just try to hold on to the hope. That God is still with you, and his promises still apply to you, and he is going to sustain you and he’s working in your heart if you’re trusting him. You can believe that, and cling to that.
Laura: Amen. Well, in order to do that, priority numero uno is getting God’s word. It’s going to be hard; you’re in a transition season where you’re not really sure when it fits in. You’re probably not waking up early; you’re probably not going to bed late. You’re just catching sleep when you can.
Emily: You have to be creative. I keep stretching myself for that, like this next time because I’ve heard of moms who are awesome about reading scripture on their phone in the middle of the night during a night feeding. Or listening to an audio version of their Bible.
Laura: Here’s the deal: do not believe the lie that you don’t have time for God’s word. Do not believe that lie because that is the lie that Satan wants to tell young moms, especially because we hear it from culture, and we hear it from the world that says, “You don’t have time for this.” You need to meet all this 500 needs that are in your face. But I see you scrolling on Instagram in the middle of a night nursing session [laughter]. I know it’s hard to stay awake.
We are there with you, but also know that there are creative ways to fit it in. Sometimes it is duty, but as John Piper says, it turns to delight. I always love that quote of, “Duty unto delight,” and remembering that if I put in that hard work, I will reap reward. And this may not be the most fun thing right now, but I know that it is the best thing for me right now. So taking those moments when you can to read God’s word or listen to God’s word—and even like some of these family worship CDs, they have straight up scripture to sing—just take a moment to meditate on it if it’s playing in the background. Choose Christ in those moments.
Emily: Another thing we’ve talked about on other shows and we’ve heard from other moms—older and wiser—God can nurse you in these hard seasons with a tiny nugget of truth. It may be that you put a little piece of paper next to your rocking chair of something that you pray over your baby. It is a scripture and that’s like the scripture that is going through your heart for a month. Or it is, again like Laura said, a hymn that has truth in it that God is able to use that to nurse your soul. There are a lot of ways that he can sustain based on just this smallest, little bit of truth that you can get a hold of. Also there’s this resting in his grace and knowing that because we are fully justified, we are not doing anything to earn his favor. You can meditate on the gospel and go, “God thank you that I can be at peace with you even if I didn’t read my Bible, even if I didn’t pray, even if I am just exhausted. You’ve paid that for me in Christ. In that, there is rest. Praise the Lord” [laughs].
Laura: Exactly. It ties into an episode that we’ve already done on Risen Motherhood here as well, Intentional Motherhood Starts at Day One. We’ll link it in the Show Notes. But if you’ve got a newborn, you’re going to want to tune into that show. It’s got a lot of really practical stuff to do with your little kid, even also as you have a season with a newborn.
Emily: As you face this next transition along with Laura and I, adding more kiddos to the family, let’s all agree to lock arms and trust God in those moments, as Laura said.
Laura: Yes, and know that we can face the future without fear. We don’t have to have anxiety over the transition. There are practical things that you will need to work out and figure out. But ultimately, God’s got it. He’s in control and you’re going to survive.
Emily: Yes, He’s working, even through spit-up and blow-outs.
Laura: Yes. He’s using it for his glory and your good. Spit-up and blow-outs for God’s glory. Amen [laughter]. Alright, we hope you guys have a great day. Thanks for tuning in.