When I found out I was pregnant, I was terrified.
In my mind being a mom meant a few things: stress, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and busy-ness. All things I detest.
I had been told, of course, about how wonderful it was, but I just couldn’t understand it. Michael and I had a laid back life. We spent Saturday mornings at spin class, followed by brunch with friends. We went to the beach at the last minute and spent weekends doing whatever we wanted–napping, watching movies, staying out late. So when we found out we were going to have a baby, we felt happy, but we were also scared to let our old life go.
Since I’ve become a mom I’ve realized how sad it was that I believed my life was over. I thought I was doomed for the next few years. Recently, I’ve been looking back, trying to figure out why I felt that way, talking to friends, and rehashing old ideas to get to the real truth. At that time in my life, most of the mothers I knew were constantly talking about how hard their job was.
And I’ve decided. It’s time we change the narrative about motherhood.
I saw a lot of people recently talking about how being a mom is the hardest “job” there is. And this always strikes me bitterly. Being a mom is not my job. I don’t get paid, and I wouldn’t take money if it was offered to me. Being a wife is not my job. Being a sister, a friend, and a daughter–those are not my “jobs” either. Being a mom is who I am. It is a relationship that grows and evolves, blossoms and at times, withers. Yes, it feels like work sometimes, but it is not my occupation. When we say this, as a community of moms, I feel like we are trying to validate what we do with our time. Trust me, raising the next generation of human beings does not require any validation. We get to participate in an ancient, blessed art of raising children. We are their teachers, protectors, caregivers, and we are the lens through which they see the world. When we say motherhood is our “job” we are selling ourselves short. Motherhood is so much more than a job.
I recently saw a film about the stresses of motherhood, and it was the most depressing thing I’ve ever witnessed. I know a lot of moms feel it–they feel so blessed to be doing what they are doing, but still they feel unfulfilled. Yes, I said it. Unfulfilled. But this is not a mommy problem. This is the human condition. Wherever you go, there you are. You can not run from troubles, heartache, or feelings of loneliness, unworthiness, or shame. I think for a lot of moms this dilemma is amplified because you have a beautiful child who loves you more than they understand, but it does not take away all of those things.
Someone very wise once told me that time does not heal all wounds, instead the only thing that heals is light. Bringing things up to the surface so they can see light is the only way we have hope of healing.
Every mom I know deals with two things: shame and guilt.
They are two cords of a rope on which you can hang yourself. Getting caught up in shame and guilt only leads us towards resentment, bitterness and heartbreak. The question we should ask ourselves everyday is this: How can I bring things to the light–these feelings I feel of inadequacy–how can I bring my shame and guilt into the light so I can heal?
Learning to deal with my own shame and guilt is something I grapple with daily. But for me it started with a decision–I will not feel ashamed of the choices I’ve made because God’s grace is sufficient. I will not feel guilty about the choices I make today because I am choosing to do what is best in the moment I am in. I also walk in the confidence that I am led by the Spirit and realize the truth that there are no mistakes I can make that God won’t graciously cover.
So join me as we reshape the way we perceive motherhood–as we bring back it’s dignity and sanctity. Being a mother is a high calling that God bestows upon us. It is a chance to nurture and participate with God in creation.