In five days my baby girl will turn one. I have spent nearly every day of the past year at home focused on her. Holding her. Feeding her. Reading to her. Watching her grow. Trying to be a good mom. Practicing my new identity. Giving up much of my former self and stretching my little heart into something new...something she calls "Mama." I am "Mama" now. And sometimes I go days without ever hearing my old name. Mostly that's ok. But there are parts of the old Desiree that I miss. Parts that are so much harder to cultivate now than they were before my baby was born. A year after becoming a mom I am still wondering, "Who am I now?" Do I still have something to contribute to the world? Can I still be a part of the movement for justice? Can I give more than everything Micah needs from me?
Motherhood is tricky. I know what the research says about how critical these first three years are in the development of her little brain. I want to pour myself into her. I want to give her everything I can. I want to read to her every day and take her to the children's museum and the nature center and the library. Her world is my world. She is everything to me. She has sucked me in heart and soul. But sometimes my singular focus on Micah makes me forget that there are other little ones out there in the world. Hungry little ones. Sick little ones. Neglected little ones. When I stop to think of them I wonder how I can possibly make time for them on top of what I'm trying to give to Micah.
I feel the tension. Part of me wants to keep trying to be a force to change the world, but a big part of me wants to just drop out of the world completely and focus all my energy and attention on Micah. To put everything else on hold until I can at least get her through preschool. In some ways I feel like I've already dropped out of the world. Or at least that Micah has become the world to me. I've spent hours thinking about how to make her birthday party special. But no time thinking about all the other kids around the world turning one next week. The old Desiree had a deeper sense of burden for those other kids. In some ways becoming a mother has deepened my compassion for others and in other ways becoming a mother has limited my ability or willingness to act on that compassion.
How can I hold tight to Micah and hold tight to the Micah 6:8 life at the same time? Sometimes I don't feel like I have enough space in me to do both. This blog used to be called, "Remembering Kibera" because it was focused on remembering my friends who live difficult lives in the largest slum in Africa called, Kibera. I still think about Kibera all the time. But I wonder what impact I will be able to have on Kibera and places like it now that Micah is my world.
I want to love my baby girl with every ounce of my power and I want the best possible start for her. As I'm sure all the mothers of the little girls turning one next week in Kibera do too.