This is for all those chicas who couldn’t wait to become mamas, and when it actually happened… found themselves slapped upside the head with circumstances they had no idea how to navigate through, let alone survive.
The Mother’s Day ads everywhere have done a great job of depicting the sacrifice it takes to be a Mom; at least a semi-decent one, anyway. I’ve never been a man, so I have no idea what’s involved for dads, but I can identify with the mommy stuff. Really well.
Being mom to three vivacious but very different girls has been an honor I am grateful for, but it hasn’t been easy, not by a long shot. Along with the typical demands of motherhood like birthing, feeding, bathing, dressing, teaching, encouraging, comforting, and disciplining, I have dealt with my own depression, self-loathing, discouragement, and grief.
I know I’m not alone, either.
The days of forcing myself to roll out of bed each morning purely because if I didn’t get Hannah dressed and fed, who else would were tough ones. The siren call of the rumpled sheets that probably should have been washed the week before but I just didn’t feel like it, was so strong, so loud, and so alluring that I had a difficult time remembering all the reasons (the really important reasons) to walk away from it each day. All I wanted to do, all I had energy for, was to sleep. To hide away. To try to numb the pain my heart kept trying to bring to the surface to heal. I couldn’t face it, though. I didn’t know how to do it without hurting any more than I already was.
I had dreamt of becoming a mom for most of my late teen years and into my early twenties. All I had wanted to do when I “grew up” was to be a wife and mom. That’s it. So when Mandolyn came along a couple of years after marriage, I was thrilled. The pregnancy was easy, and she was perfect. I adored all the little milestones with her, and reveled in all the wonders of mommy hood. I really, truly did.
When I discovered I was expecting her little brother, I had trouble comprehending how I could possibly love another little human as much as I did her, but I prepared to do my best…
The months and years that followed were nothing I could have anticipated. Having my baby boy born so prematurely, and then to have him live his entire eight months of life in a hospital, only to bury him, was not something I could have made up. Not something I could have ever imagined would happen to me. To us. It was the kind of thing you read about that happened to other people. Not to me.
Not to me.
Giving birth to Hannah a year later and discovering she had Down syndrome was also not on my radar. Neither was figuring out how to accommodate her different behaviors, which I later learned was due to the fact she also has autism. And since she was born with congenital cataracts, and has an odd shape to her eyes, she also was declared legally blind by the time she was 14 due to complications.
I floundered for so much of my kids’ lives, I can’t even tell you. I felt like I was constantly going by the seat of my pants, barely keeping my head above water as I attempted to keep them fed and watered, and hopefully clothed. I often felt like a failure.
Part of it was because I didn’t know how to properly grieve my son’s death. I pushed the pain away and kept busy, but it wouldn’t go away… compounded with my dad’s early death and with my struggling marriage, I was officially a hot mess.
Anger constantly bubbled below the surface, my house was a permanent disaster, my weight fluctuated by 20 pounds on a regular basis, and I had no idea what I was doing.
This was not what I had planned.
This was not what I had signed up for.
This was not what I wanted.
I did not ask for death.
I did not ask for pain.
I did not ask for struggles beyond the ordinary things like choosing the right brand of diapers or baby food.
None of us ask for pain.
I have learned, though, that we all end up facing it one way or another in this life. It’s inevitable.
I have also learned that we have choices regarding how we face our particular pain.
We can either become numb, bitter, resentful, and angry, or we can make a daily choice to work through the pain to become stronger for it. To embrace the depth it lends to us, the perspective it offers, the empathy it bestows.
We will never be the same, so the choice is ours as to how we want to wind up.
Better? or Bitter?
I did bitter for awhile, and it sucked.
So I’ve been choosing better for nearly ten years now, and even though it hasn’t been a smooth ride, it has been worth it. My ideal dream of marriage and motherhood was hijacked, but the person I have allowed God to love me into is much more aware of those around me and the struggles they face.
I was rescued by the One who loves me most, and I began to give Him permission to bind my wounds, and to restore my soul. He became a very real Presence in my life, and has loved me through the process of grief as well as a heart breaking divorce.
What’s the moral of my story? I guess that something in our lives will probably get hijacked at some point or other, but as Glennon says: we can do hard things together. Reach out to trusted friends, family, counselors, pastors, whatever you have available to you, and get help to walk your path through pain.
You don’t have to do it alone. Your plans may have been hijacked, but God is the Master of bringing beauty out of our ashes.
Happy Mother’s Day, Chica. xo