When I look back at my youth, I sometimes think I thought too much and I thought about all the things moms "have" to do, and to be honest, I looked at my own mom's life and thought, "Wow, everyday, it's the same thing." Not that my mom didn't do it joyfully, because to be honest, I never really saw her complain. But it was up in the morning, getting the kids going, cleaning up the kitchen, doing laundry, paying bills, running errands, shuffling kids (I guess since we were all spaced out it wasn't always all 4 of us at once!), making dinner, cleaning the kitchen again and if she was lucky, sitting down for a minute. As a feeble-minded youth, I just didn't see the fun in it. And of course, I was selfish. More of self, and less of Thee. I was immature.
And then (I know I talk about it frequently but to blog is semi-therapeutic and I'm constantly reevaluating this, since it's been the biggest catalyst in my life for change), after I realized there are a few good men out there--aside from family members and good-friends-who-were-boys that I just couldn't fathom settling down with--and Providence landed me with Greg, I figured we had a few more years before the childbearing began. Hahahahahahaha. God really laughed at that plan, just as he laughed at my plan to finish my grad school internship right after we got married so that we would only be a single-income family for about one college semester. Looking back I figured there was a purpose for that setback, to not be in school full-time, or not be interning, or not be earning any real money. I didn't know when I'd realize it or when I'd figure it out and I still don't know if I fully understand it all, but it taught me one thing. My timing isn't always God's timing, even if it stinks.
Of course, when I did finally graduate, and got a job, and then almost immediately got pregnant, I think I really felt out-of-control. The best laid plans oft go awry. Could that not be a life statement for most of us??
When we lose our locus-of-control, often our "happiness" or internal contentment diminishes. And this is what I think about often. I didn't immediately enjoy motherhood because I wasn't prepared for it. I didn't think it was in the cards in the short-term future. I was not in control. I was not willing to accept what I thought I'd be giving up. And do you know how hard that is to admit? Aren't young Christian women supposed to yearn for the call of motherhood? Is it considered selfish to not desire that role instinctively or immediately? Well at least for me, those instincts hadn't kicked on just yet. It had nothing to do with my own mom or other mothers around me, yet I felt guilty for feeling that way, like I was offending their being. Before we got married and talked about kids, I figured the desire to be a mom would grow the longer we were married.
And in the middle of all that, Mia was born, and her birth was great, really really great. There's not a single thing I would change about that. When I reflect on it, it was such a serene, peaceful and beautiful day when my world was literally rocked. The day I became a mother.
But I can't change what all happened after that. It was rough. Really really rough. And having Gabe's birth experience and the days thereafter to compare with Mia's, I realize just how different things could have been, but weren't. I realize now why I wasn't immediately happy as a new mom. I unfortunately had some lingering baby blues. So, when you're asked that infamous question, "Don't you loooove being a mom?", I almost resented it. How could you ask me that?? It hurt. She's small. I feel guilty. I can't figure out this breastfeeding thing. I feel guilty. I keep getting sick. Why won't I get better? And I have a blood clot. What's wrong with me? Pounding. Pounding. Pounding.
It gave me little chance to bond with a tiny, precious baby girl who is growing up into a delightful, strong child. And I just didn't know how to be.
Finally, though, I got back some sense of control. I found some purpose and I found some structure. I found a community, and God gave me a group of people with whom I could work along side and feel productive. I felt useful, even if I was in a totally different role than I'd planned. And to this day, it is still a little embarrassing to admit all those feelings that I had, but as a former counselor, I know you need to honor those feelings, or at least let them pass through, many times in order to move on. You don't have to act on the feelings and actually BE selfish toward your child, or drop your responsibilities and walk away, but you can acknowledge them, have your peace, and move on. And that's what I'm doing. Which is why I think I am enjoying the mommy life. It is the toughest, highest calling I've ever known. But these two munchkins are my arrows that will eventually be getting ready to launch, and just as God does a work in me, I have a work to do in them.
Let me do right by them.