Monday, November 11, 2013

Confessions of a Struggling Mom: I Am Not A Superhero

Written around September 28, 2013

Giving birth has easily got to be among the top five greatest things I've ever done in life.  In fact I think it's resume-worthy. Not just for me, but for all moms! Before you think my life must be really boring for saying that, try picturing this. On average, a 6-7 pound baby coming out of an unnatural place of your body, which turns out to be totally natural. Or having your belly sliced open to pull out a miniature human. It's like something out of a science fiction movie, yet for some reason many look at it as something so regular and normal that it often gets bypassed as mundane. Uh, no. Absolutely not. Nothing boring or ordinary about childbirth, my friends.

I think what can come along with this mindset is the idea of this unwritten code for moms. The world says your life is ordinary and mundane? Well then act like it, even if that's not what you're feeling. Having a hard time with this job this is just a normal part of life? Well, keep it to yourself, because you're supposed to be enjoying it and that's all anyone wants to see. I mean, I swear no one really wants to know what's really going on in my life. Sometimes I may talk to someone with every intention of sharing how un-glamorous and difficult my life is and how it's a daily struggle. Not to complain, but to honestly bare my heart with the hopes of having someone encourage me and point me in the right direction, or at bare minimum let me vent. But then the gushing begins. The person shares their idea of what my reality is, and then I clam up. After all, who am I to burst their bubble? Yes, motherhood is nearly as perfect as you say, I say.

What I've come to notice is that people are all over you and drinking in what you have to say when you're talking about what a blast being a parent is. But you get started talking about the hard stuff, those people you were chatting up become shrinking violets and they want nothing to do with you. Or, or instead of recognizing that you are sharing your true heart is a cry for affirmation or dare I say assistance, they think you're complaining or worse, exaggerating, so they try to one-up you. Oh, you think this stage is hard now, they say, you just wait til they get to this stage; then you'll really have it hard.  And while this does happen between moms and non-parents, I'm talking about moms talking to other moms here! 

And so it begins. Or continues, I should say. The mom code. Negative experiences? Keep it to yourself. Struggling with a new baby? Unless you're less than six weeks postpartum, suck it up. Oh and you have more than one kid? You should already be used to it so you really should be quiet. Having regrets or second thoughts about the life you've chosen (or not chosen) for yourself? Again, suck it up or else sound like you hate your life and your baby and family. Struggling with depression? Don't you know that women have been birthing babies for thousands of years? Duh, there's down times but get over yourself! That's selfish to be so focused on your emotions and not those of your family.

The list could continue on and on. Reason after reason why we should soldier on through our struggle, not for the sake of our family or child but because this weighty title of Mother as defined most frequently by those around us deems it necessary for survival.
I'm thinking there are a few issues here. Somewhere along the line other, older moms forgot that they too were moms and had struggles themselves. Somewhere along the line we forgot that we're Christians before anything else and should be gracious to our fellow sisters in Christ, whether we understand or can relate to their struggle or not. Somewhere along the line we forgot that as members of this body of believers we should always be building up (edifying), not tearing down. Somewhere along the line we adopted this idea that a Mother is a superhero. And sure, she may be in the eyes of a child or spouse, and props to you if you feel you've mastered your role. Forgive me if I'm going out on a limb here, moms, but really? Can I just be honest with you? We aren't superheroes. We aren't invincible, and we have struggles like other mere mortals. Certainly we have to deal with them in ways that other childless people don't have any clue about, but--and I'm just speaking for myself here--I've found that trying to turn myself into some sort of super human limits me from really recognizing that its okay to struggle. To need help. To be depressed. To regret. To be human. 

So where do we go from here? What is to be gained by sharing all these things? Maybe this is more for me than you. Because I know I need to come clean. My life hasn't been nearly as perfect as I've made it sound at times. I'm pretty sure I had postpartum depression and sometimes I still wonder what my life would be like baby-free. I really want more children, but at the same time I kinda want my own life. Am I selfish? Where am I in all this? Am I allowed to have goals and aspirations that have nothing to do with family life?

I already know that there are those of you who shun the idea of looking at your life that closely. In fact you've probably already shut me out. How dare you question the position you're in? Don't you know motherhood is a blessing? Don't you know people would give their right arm to have their own child? (Yeah, being made to feel guilty for having a child.... Fantastic.) Don't know you know how selfish you sound? Don't you know this? Don't you know that? Don't you know you're making moms look bad and weak? 

There. There's the question. Because that is absolutely what I'm doing. I'm done trying to appease this ever-changing image of what mom looks like or should act like or should be. I'm challenging it and examining it and not just in my own eyes, I'm putting it up against the Word, because when did other moms start becoming the standard instead of the Word anyway?

If you haven't figured it out yet guys, I haven't figured it all out. I'm the mom of one child and she's seven months old and her and her daddy are. my. WORLD. But even still I'm struggling with this thing called motherhood, and I'd be lying to you if I said anything otherwise. But I won't stop living. I won't wait to share my experiences until I've "gotten it all together." I'm going to be transparent, keep going, and lean hard into grace and new mercies because if there is one thing that I have figured out it's that there is no way I will learn and grow in this role without it. In fact I'm living in moment to moment grace. So as I start this journey, let me say this now: I won't always have a solution or a way to make all things right. But I'm also not trying to be fixed because I don't think what I'm feeling is wrong.  I don't think it's right either. I think it's just neutral. I'm just feeling and learning and learning and struggling. And I'm not asking your permission to struggle. I'm inviting you to struggle with me. In the day to day questions and hurdles. In the good times and the not good at all. And for the those of you who have already attained/arrived (lol) or gotten close or at least learned something worth sharing, I'm all ears. Really, the wisdom from the Word allows for anyone to share, including those who still think and have no problem telling me that I need to get over myself. (I'll try to be gracious.) So stay tuned for more! And here I go....

This begins my journey.... These are my confessions....

Reminder of the Day
God's grace is sufficient for me. God's power is made perfect in my weakness.

Ultimate Goal
To boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
To delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

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