I don’t talk a lot about deep, heavy stuff on this blog for a few reasons:
1.) Real life is heavy enough, so I like to keep things light and fun here in my little corner of the ‘ole internet.
2.) I don’t feel like people visit this site for that kind of stuff.
3.) Honestly, I don’t think some people will like what I have to say if I get really real.
But I’m ready for that to change. I want to be real.
I believe with all my heart that one of the reasons we go through different experiences in this life (the good, the bad, and the really ugly) is so we can help others who are going through the same junk later on down the road. No one can relate like someone who has been in a similar situation. For over a year I’ve been thinking about how there are so many unfair misconceptions and stereotypes about motherhood, and I’m completely “make-me-want-to-vomit” sick of them. I’m tired of women acting like they are perfect; like their families are perfect. And it seems like “Christian” moms are often the worst at adding fuel to the stereotypes. We’ve created unrealistic expectations for ourselves and for others, and it’s wrong. Since I don’t post anything here with a negative vibe I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m one those women. I’ve never met a perfect mom who had it all figured out! I certainly don’t. Most days I feel like a “hot mess”. We all have very different experiences, and I want to share a little with you about my journey becoming a mom… the real story.
So, get ready. Or get off this site while you still can!
I wasn’t one of those girls who daydreamed about my future children. In fact, I often said, “I’m not having kids.” I wasn’t really drawn to children the way a lot of girls are. I didn’t even babysit much. I had other dreams, but having children wasn’t on my list. I felt like having kids would put me in a tiny box, and that scared me. I wanted to do things. To travel. To go to college. To have an exciting career. To be surrounded with fun friends. So I did those things! It was great, but something was missing. Out of nowhere I started to really want a baby. But my excitement was about the next adventure to add to the list. It was something else I could check off and say, “Hey, look what I accomplished!”
Then I found out I was pregnant, and it didn’t feel real. I had no idea what to expect. I refused to read any books, because I didn’t want to be consumed with all-things-baby. I had friends who did that, and then had nothing else to talk about. I was paranoid that I’d turn into one those know-it-all women I mentioned in the first paragraph. Plus I didn’t want to worry about all the “what-ifs”. So, I guess you could say I was as unprepared as possible.
Thankfully, I had the easiest pregnancy ever. No issues at all. I felt good the whole time! Then it was time to birth the little guy. It wasn’t what I expected. There were complications. Really dangerous ones. I didn’t get a chance to bond with my baby, because I was on a lot of meds. Then we went home, and it didn’t take long to realize something was really wrong with me. I was a complete wreck. I cried a lot, didn’t want to see anyone except my parents and Anderson and still didn’t feel any kind of bond with my son. I’d heard so many people describe the overwhelming love they felt for their babies, and I didn’t know why I didn’t feel that way. I tried to explain what I was experiencing to Anderson, but all I could say was that I felt like I was falling into a black hole. Falling deeper and deeper. Darkness was surrounding me, and I was scared. It wasn’t until later that I realized I was experiencing something between typical baby blues and postpartum depression. What? I thought people who claimed to suffer from depression were dramatic and weak. How could this be happening to me? God was teaching me something major. He’s always had a way of dealing with pride in my life. You’d think I would learn eventually!
That’s when I started reading Psalm 40:1-3 over and over. Every day. All day.
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.
My Bible stayed open to those verses. I didn’t need to read them because I knew each verse word for word, but there was just something about seeing those words on that page. I believed that God would pull me out of the darkness. I still can’t read them without crying! It took time for me to start feeling better, but God was so gracious to me through the whole ordeal. He sent a friend who had experienced severe postpartum depression to help me, He prompted my Mom to visit me everyday so I wouldn’t be alone, He sent friends to our house with enough food for a football team, He gave Anderson the strength to be patient and understanding (even though he had no way of actually understanding), and He did indeed put a new song in my mouth! A song of praise to my King for blessing me with a healthy sweet, happy baby. A song of repentance for being so judgmental to other woman and for not embracing what an amazing blessing it was to have a baby.
A lot of people say that the biggest lesson they learn from becoming a parent is the depth of love they are capable of having for another person. I get that. It blows my mind too! But the biggest thing I’ve learned is not to judge other people, especially other moms. I don’t care if they let their kids eat fried chicken nuggets and french fries at every meal. I know how hard it is to fight with a kid who doesn’t want to eat. And I don’t give them rude looks when I see them in the grocery store in sweats with dirty hair. I know what it feels like to be up all night with a sick baby then have to run out for milk and not even remember to look to see if you’re wearing shoes. I don’t think they’re ridiculous for choosing to home school or for working full-time or staying home full-time or for going to “mommy and me” groups. Their experiences aren’t the same as mine, and I have no idea what they’re going through. So instead I choose to encourage them to keep on. Being a mom is tough!
So don’t invite me to your baby shower unless you want my speech. It goes something like this: “The first few weeks after you have a baby are Hell. HELL! You don’t sleep and you might be on strong meds. If you choose to nurse, you will feel like a dairy cow. (It’s very sexy). The most exciting thing you will do some days is shower. You might feel depressed and lonely. If you do, CALL ME! Hang on. It gets easier. If I can do it, you can do it. Get a calendar, and put a big happy face at the two week mark then a bigger one at six weeks. Look at that calendar everyday and know that when you hit those marks it gets a lot easier! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad. Your experience is not like anyone else’s. Don’t worry about enjoying every minute. People who tell you to do that have either forgotten how hard it is or didn’t have the same experience as you. You’ll get to the point where you can enjoy the experience as a whole. You can do it! You can do it! You can do it! If you don’t need to remember this speech, you won’t. If you think I’m an awful mom, because it’s all roses and home cooked meals at your home, that’s fine. But we can’t be friends anymore.”
I feel like God has called me to do and be things other than Kingston’s mom. But that’s definitely near the top of my list now; right under being Anderson’s wife. And that’s where it will always be. Wait! Who am I kidding? I don’t even have a list anymore. If I did I wouldn’t be able to find it! And while I’m really thankful for the stuff that was on my list before, it all pales in comparison when I hear a little high pitched toddler voice say “Mamma” and realize he’s talking to me!