An Honest Discussion.

January 6, 2012

I have been thinking about posting this for awhile, but the fearful part of me keeps putting it off. Along with the daily list of to-dos that I never seem to be able to cross off. But I’m doing it. I’m taking the plunge. In this post I’d like to speak honestly for a moment about motherhood.

Motherhood is hard.

It is so hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, am doing, will ever do, I believe. It’s not just the daily grind — the constant cleaning, laundry, scheduling, feeding, bathing, cooking, listening to crying, whining, screaming. All of that, I think I was kind of prepared for before I had Ollie. I knew I would be sleep deprived, that I would be tired. But the hardest thing? The hardest thing is the anxiety. Nothing could have prepared me for the anxiety I would feel about taking care of my baby. From an outside perspective (before I had kids), it seemed so easy. Sure, it’s tiring work, but I knew how to feed a baby, how to change a diaper, how to put them down in their crib & listen to them cry. I knew how to hold them & bounce them to make them smile, how to make them feel better if they fell & hurt themselves. But I didn’t know how much I would worry for my child, how much I would want the absolute best for them, how stressed I would be if they didn’t take a long nap, how much the crying would wear on me by the end of the day.

I don’t believe that every mom struggles as much as I have these past seven months, and because of that, I’ve had a lot of insecure thoughts & emotional breakdowns & feelings of guilt & inadequacy. But I have always been one prone to anxiety & worry, and of course motherhood brings that out the nth degree. I wrote a couple posts at the beginning about my baby blues & just how hard those first couple months were. And it was okay to write those things because it’s a typical hard time for most moms. But then Ollie turned 3 months. And then 4 months. And now we’re almost at 7 months. And the truth is, I am still having a hard time. Granted, it is SO much easier & SO much more predictable & I feel SO much more stable than I did then. But to be quite honest, I am nowhere near what I feel should be “normal” for a mom of a 7-month-old. It would make sense maybe if my baby were colicky, didn’t sleep through the night, took horrible naps, wasn’t very happy, or weren’t growing at a normal rate, but Ollie is none of those things. He is an angel baby. I don’t say that often because I don’t want people to feel bad, but he is. He is the sweetest, happiest, easiest baby ever. Yet I am still struggling.

After a particularly difficult week, I finally mustered up the courage to contact some older sisters who I know struggled with similar emotions after having their babies. I thought that maybe I might have some form of postpartum depression. I never did find out if what I’m experiencing is in fact PPD (and in hindsight, it doesn’t really matter if I do or don’t), but I did come away from those conversations so encouraged. They told me I wouldn’t feel this way forever, that it would pass, that I would enjoy different stages of my child’s life, that I would be able to have more children & that I would enjoy the baby stage more with each child, that they too cried & felt so guilty all the time. It was just a relief to me that I wasn’t alone. Sometimes when I look around at church or on Facebook, it seems like everyone is breezing through motherhood, just enjoying their babies so much & already ready to move on to their second or third. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy Ollie — I adore him to pieces & ironically spend countless minutes looking at pictures of him & watching videos of him after we put him down to bed for the night. But when I think about having a second? My heart starts racing — not in the good way, like when you’re about to see your boyfriend who you haven’t seen in two weeks — but in a panicky, omg-I-can’t-do-it-I’ll-die kind of way. All of this is so hard for me to admit & even to deal with internally because all I’ve ever wanted in life was to be a wife & mother. I never had great ambitions or things I wanted to accomplish aside from those two things. Shouldn’t I be filled to the brim with happiness & radiating joy everywhere I go? And particularly more so because of the journey we had to go through in order to have our precious Ollie. I feel like I should be that super thankful, ultra happy mama who just delights in her little baby & can’t wait to have more, more, more! I am so thankful for Ollie. I am. I love him SO much and really can’t imagine not having him in our lives anymore, but the hardships that have accompanied motherhood have been crushing for me at times. I have felt so desperate & trapped at times, yet there is nowhere to go.

But (and here’s the clincher), of course there is. The same God who carried me through all the heartbreaking grief & anxiety of miscarriage is the same God who is carrying me through all the daily hardships & anxiety of motherhood. For some reason, in my mind, I thought we were in clear waters after we got pregnant with Ollie. Now I could move on with my life & embrace my destiny as a mother — be the mom I was meant to be, raise these kids with passion & joy, be that excellent wife & mother I had always dreamed of. But apparently the mom I was meant to be is weak, impatient, irritable, anxious, full of guilt, depressed, overwhelmed, and can’t even put a decent dinner on the table half the time. How glamorous, huh? I thought that now that the Lord had finally granted my prayers and wishes of having a healthy child, I would go and prove to Him how good of a mother I could be, how much I would appreciate His gift, how much I would cherish and delight in this role He had given me. But as it turns out, The Lord still wants me to turn to Him, depend on Him, run to Him with all my fears, anxieties, heartbreaks, and failures… except now as a mother.

The past seven months have been so humbling. So I-want-to-bury-my-head-in-the-ground humbling. I’ve also had moments where I want to run out the door and just drive somewhere & not look back. Moments where I want to crawl into bed and not wake up in the morning. But I do. And oddly enough, as long as the past seven months have felt, it’s also gone by in the blink of an eye. How is that possible? I’m not really making goals for the new year, but one thing I would just like to keep in mind for myself is to just stop comparing myself to other women. I’m sure there are moms out there who struggle just as much as me (though I don’t know who they are), and then there are moms who really are breezing through the baby stage. But it doesn’t matter. The Lord made me the way I am and it was His will to make me experience this crazy roller coaster of emotions that has come with motherhood, ultimately to draw me to Himself & to seek to find my peace & rest in Him. So seek I will.

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