I didn’t expect it to be painful to think back to my early years as a mom. As I thought about what to write for this, I realized I have blocked a lot of that time out and choose to only remember the pieces I feel comfortable with.
I expected to be the best mom ever. I was great with other people’s kids so naturally, I thought that would carry over to my own. And while it did to an extent, nothing can prepare you for being responsible for another human being 24/7.
We were married for 3 months before I got pregnant with our oldest. He was born one week after our 1 year anniversary. And while I was excited to be a mom and happy, I didn’t feel those amazing feelings everyone gushes about. Looking back, I realize I have always considered feelings to be a weakness in myself as I strove to be independent and prove I didn’t need anyone, so I had shoved all feelings down to keep myself from showing weakness to anyone, including me. I felt excited to be a mom but discouraged it was so hard. I felt lonely staying at home all day, everyday without a vehicle in winter and the online community I joined didn’t help me be productive because I would lose myself in the computer instead of reality. When my son was two months old, I got a job once a week so I could have a place to feel like Me. I didn’t expect to lose myself in the role of wife and mom. And not in the way that was fulfilling and life giving but in a way that I just felt lost and like I didn’t know who I was anymore. Motherhood was (and still is) hard.
When we had our second son, life got really chaotic and we experienced multiple crises all at once in our marriage and finances and I shut down. I would cry to God and ask what His plan was for this situation but I didn’t feel capable of doing much more than sitting on the couch and watching tv all day while my kids played around me. I felt paralyzed and depressed.
Around this time, God used several ways to draw me in to Him. We were able to be open with our cell and let them in on what was happening in our life and they supported us like crazy, with my cell leader even coming to babysit and borrow me her vehicle once a week so I could go for personal ministry sessions. We were surprised with a pregnancy which, while I felt angry at first because why would we want to bring another child into this mess of a family, especially when someone told me that I already didn’t love my kids enough and I questioned everything I thought was my success as a mother; God used that to take away my suicidal thoughts and gave me hope that maybe we could survive and learn to thrive.
I also started attending a moms cell at church and found real mom community.
Right before our third son was born, we moved into community with two other families and shared a home with them. And the accountability when people can see and hear almost everything you do as a parent was very high and was a major part of my growth as a mom, as was watching someone further along the parenting journey than I was.
God has used many people in my life to call me back to Him when I’m busy trying to do life myself because I’m overly independent. Community has been a constant reminder of His love and the fact that He made me how I am and that I wasn’t meant to be like everyone else. It’s ok to be different.
One of the ways He currently draws me in is to remind me of meeting places we’ve had over the years (where you picture a place to meet with God in your mind and it can help your prayer life feel more like a conversation) and reminding me that, although I love to dance, unless I let Him lead, it’s a sloppy mess. But when I let Him lead the steps and keep my eyes on Him instead of constantly looking at my feet to make sure I’m doing everything “right”, the dance is way more beautiful.
While motherhood has been and is still the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, I know that if I don’t give up and keep my eyes on Him, it can be beautiful and eventually the feelings of joy and love will slowly continue to grow and be the fruit in my life. The verse He constantly brings me to is this:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Keep going mamas.