I’m only seven months in, but I think I’ll be trying to process motherhood for a long time. The deep sadness and despair I felt for the first three weeks is something I will never fully understand, and I hope I never go through it again. It is strange, isn’t, moms? How we bring brand new, beautiful life into the world, and some of us spend the next 1-12 months so utterly DEPRESSED? I don’t get it. I really don’t. We went through a battle of sorts, we shed blood, we experienced trauma, but…my family is safe and healthy. I didn’t experience war. I have HELP. I am not ALONE. But why do I feel alone and helpless? Why do I feel dramatic? Ah, the sweet, sweet pain of childbirth…
Those first weeks were the worst, but I still struggle as the months go by. There’s always something to get me down. A few of those things are sleep deprivation, mental exhaustion, back pains, clothes that don’t fit, myself, and freaky fellow moms.
Moms: a whole new breed of woman! And thanks to social media, we are LOUD. Dare I say, we are obnoxious.
I looooove seeing other moms out in public. I remember my first grocery shopping trip with Naomi, I was wearing mascara and carrying her in the Ergo and passed another mom with a baby or two and just wanted to high-five her and scream, “YEAH, girl!” But I probably just smiled. There’s such camaraderie! I am one of you! You GET me! We understand each other! YEAH GIRL!
But then I come home. I get online. And it’s Moms Out, Claws out, baby. I could explain the controversies about breastmilk, breastfeeding, bottles, formula, sleep training, co-sleeping, car seats, diapers, birth, western medicine, natural medicine, hospitals, home births, cesarean births, vaccines, body image, daycare, circumcision, tummy time, baby food, raising boys, raising girls, stay-at-home parenting, career parenting, and coconut oil…but I won’t.
I love moms. I appreciate the seasoned moms who remember what it was like to be new, and who never roll their eyes. I hope that I will remember this, too, when I have three or five more kids. That will be when I know exactly what to do about everything, right?
I think the most depressing thought I had this past week was I will NEVER know everything about mothering. I will NEVER arrive. I hopefully will get better at the top of each hill, but there will always be another one to climb. I broke down that day and sobbed three times while holding my baby girl. The dog knew what the sobs meant, and he tried his best to comfort me. But my baby thought I was laughing. She smiled and flapped her arms and reached for my face, and I just sobbed harder because I loved her so much and wished I wasn’t so, so sad. I wished I could always think of what’s best for her. I wished I didn’t feel so exhausted and spent all the time. I wished I could be friends with other moms without feeling judged. I wished I could exercise without feeling discouraged about the unchanging numbers. I wished I was confident and never depressed.
My prayers are so often scattered and lifeless during my long days at home, but that day the Holy Spirit took my groans and helped me choose simple words: “Lord, keep me out of the pit today.”
So by the grace of God, TODAY I will stay out of the pit of self-focus and comparison. My favorite verse to pray each day is Psalm 5:3, which says, “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” My sacrifice is my life, my time, my heart, which I entrust to Him because He is the only one worthy to keep it, and I will watch and see what He does. It might just be a quiet day at home with extra energy to love my baby. Or it might be a day out in the world with opportunities to comfort another struggling woman. But it also might be a day of rest and reflection alone at a coffee shop! Because today my husband is home to parent while I date myself.
I am thankful to serve a God who walks with me even through this season of scattered thoughts and scattered productivity. And I’m thankful this changing heart of mine is growing and learning to love my new life. I’m a mom, and that’s something to cherish. Because even when a seagull poops on my brand new shirt while I’m trying to write, I will survive. I have baby wipes in my purse.