How My Newborn Gave Me More Time
Words by Angela Roe
Through the thin yellow walls in the nursery, I can hear my pastor’s voice preaching. A few minutes later, the echoes of my husband leading the congregation in a song of response bellow into the room where I rock my three-month-old after a feeding. Her hunger dictates my schedule, and her needs trump my desires—such is motherhood, I’m learning. So sometimes, I miss the entire sermon (thankful for the podcast!); other Sunday mornings, the whole worship set I find myself soothing my daughter.
The birth of my first child has ignited within me something new. This is what Christ is in the business of doing, I know. I realize in this rocking chair that I feel like I have more time than I’ve ever had to pursue him and less time to do anything else.
Becoming a mother hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m not sure how else to describe it. All of my advice curation from friends and book-reading on parenting still left me woefully ill-prepared for the exhaustion—and joy—that would come with her entrance into the world. Every emotion a new mom feels postpartum was experienced in such a raw, intense way. I barely knew how to put one foot in front of the other each day, and I didn’t have a moment to shower or eat good food, but God sweetly provided time for me to abide in him.
My baby’s very existence caused and still compels me to be relentlessly still. The sink full of dishes and my arms holding her tiny body means more time to sit with Jesus.
On maternity leave, I spent large chunks of my day in utter silence. When I held Norah either to comfort her or to put her to sleep, I didn’t have the energy to find the TV remote (though sometimes fear of waking her kept me still), so I wouldn’t bother. Sitting in the exact same spot on our living room sofa, Monday through Friday, I would spend time praying specifically for either our little girl, friends, family or what was going on in the world. Embracing the peace and quiet, I’d open up the Bible app on my phone with the free hand I had and read God’s Word—the Gospel accounts or bits of wisdom from Proverbs. When I took the baby with me on errands, I’d leave my music off in the car to listen for her coos and cries, and I’d simply meditate on what God was teaching me about my selfishness.
God used those minutes to nudge me toward repentance when I snapped at my husband out of resentment or fatigue. Psalm 1:2 resonated deeply, as I delighted to meditate on his ways day and night.
These blocks of time weren’t added hours to a standard day of the week. They were gifts from God, as he revealed to me how easy it was for me to mindlessly waste my most precious commodity pre-motherhood. My “free” time was spent with little structure and thus ironically resulted in little rest. Free time would even leave me disillusioned and weary, especially if social media was involved. As is common in our overstimulated context, I still struggle to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil,” (Eph. 5:16) spending embarrassing amounts of time scrolling through Instagram or mindlessly watching the same Netflix reruns I’ve seen dozens of times.
Paul tells the Colossians to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (4:5, NIV), speaking on how Christians should conduct themselves among unbelievers. As moms and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have the power by the Holy Spirit not to be dismayed by our lack of time as we nurture our children. Rather, we see our need to be still during the newborn stage as an opportunity to know God more fully and thus become more like him. In Christ, we can use our time to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) and abide with the One who made our children so that we might bear much fruit (John 15:5).
Looking down at the precious cheeks, eyelashes and lips of this beautiful gift God has given to me, my heart swells. I wish so desperately I could bottle moments like this.
All I hear in this empty room is silence, save for the small clock ticking above the doorway, reminding me how time marches on without my permission. May I make the most of it, remembering my Maker and all he has done for me.