Anxiety plagued me for days and despite my valiant efforts to look within and determine the source, it wasn’t until this morning that I saw them.
This isn’t the first time my expectations have caused me to worry and become anxious. It isn’t the first time they’ve stolen not only my joy, but my peace and the ability to clearly see whats right in front of me.
But these weren’t just any expectations, they were the deep longings of my heart; the false expectations I had of me and my mothering.
Before I become mom and even as I’ve worn the title these last 13 months, I confess that I expected it to be all naps and snuggles, giggles and playtime. That she would perfectly fit into our old lives, love it herself, always act delightful and that our joy would multiple. That I would always delight in her, in return and in my role as her mother all the time- in every minute.
I thought that I would wake each morning eager to be with her and that I’d never want to be without her.
That when life got hard, I would see the challenge through the lens of wisdom, compassion and a hunger to learn and grow. That tears would be few and regret none existent.
And that each moment, I would revel in the present moment, etching the beauty of it on my heart and giving thanks for it.
I thought that because I had experienced the death of a child in my early years and trauma amidst my humble beginnings as a mother, that I would never take a moment for granted! And if I’m really honest, that because my hopes for motherhood were not (all together) selfish and focused on frivolous or materialistic things, that God would bless that!
In truth, this was much of my early experiences of motherhood.
While I may have been downing in tears of grief and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), God used my daughter to draw me to him – to turn my mourning into dancing. She was the break in my everyday darkness for nine consecutive weeks. She turned my heart and my head rightside up and so many things, like my priorities, my worries, and fears, suddenly fell into place.
She pushed me to look honestly at myself, for her sake, and deal with the ugly and hurt parts of me I’d hidden away for years, emerging on the other side a free, wholehearted and confident woman. She taught me to fully live and embrace life with the people right in front of me without distraction.
Then suddenly the page turned, we entered a new chapter and I went from just being with and experiencing life with her, to raising her. To failing every single day at being my best self for her – the self I liked and prided myself on being as a mother.
Instead, I’ve had to fight daily to respond rather than react, to have patience, show compassion and choose joy in the wake of struggle. I’ve let anxiety and fear steal the moment- our moments- and bait me with notions that I will forever fail and struggle in my role as her mom. And that perhaps I’m only cut out to be a baby momma and will cease to be what she needs. That I won’t be able to love her well or help her know and experience unconditional love and acceptance.
I’ve compared myself to the women around me who seem to thrive in motherhood and delight – even rave- about being with their children 24/7 and wouldn’t have it any other way. Comparing myself to women who juggle solo, not knowing the throngs of help or are privileged the gift of a village to help raise their child, like I am – and still they want more children.
And here I am struggling with one child and ample hands to help raise her along side me. Guilt and shame suffocate me.
For a moment I feel helpless and wish I were like them, willing myself to be different, believing she needs those kind of women as her momma.
Until I realize I’ve entirely missed the point.
I’ve believed the lie that true joy comes without suffering or sacrifice – without being challenged or stretched beyond my comfort zones.
And I’ve forgotten the thing I need to remember most: that God chose me, not them, to be her mother and her to be my child. It’s not by accident! He chose us for each other, specifically and with purpose. God sees every day of our lives and knows exactly what we need most – what will serve us best- in the people we each are, how he’s made us, designed us and gifted us as two individuals- me her mother, her my daughter.
And God’s plans are always for the good of those who love him; to give us a hope and a future.
But it’s not in my strength or hers that we will proposer, but in our weakness, because it’s there – in that place- that God’s power is made perfect. In our weaknesses we will seek him and see our need for him clearly. Our weaknesses will move us to step aside long enough to give God the reigns and take the wheel. Because with him at the head, we will never be led off course.
So today, (and every day if I need to) I am laying down my expectations and my plans. I will own my weaknesses in motherhood and give my insecurities to God. And I will refuse to parent out of fear, but in love because love covers a multitude of mistakes, of which I am chief. And I will trust God and his grace to bring us through.
7-10 So I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 | The Message