Wednesday, August 28, 2013

on motherhood, guilt, and pride

On December 29, 2012, I became a mother.  Little did I know the journey upon which I'd be embarking.  A journey of love, fear, pride, guilt, sanctification, holiness, self-discovery, spouse-discovery, creativity. and on and on.


As I felt that sweet girl fluttering and hiccupping and kicking, I imagined a moment of ecstacy when she'd come out.  I imagined going through labor [um, hindsight 20/20 - I had NO idea what this would be. Moms, you know what I mean] and at the end, this sweet girl would slide out and my heart would be overcome.  And you know what, it was better than I imagined.  It's not that way for everyone, but it was for me.  My labor was hard.  I ended up with an epidural (contrary to my original wish) after several hours stuck in transition with a baby turned inside the wrong way.  The Lord protected her & she was delivered safely (after a few hours of pushing, with vacuum suction because her heart went into decel). And the moment I felt her come out, I waited for what seemed like an eternity to hear that sweet cry.
And then - she screamed.
And I burst into tears. and laughter all at the same time.
She was here
My heart was full.
I heard them talk about the cord & then she was on me. Goopy, covered in who knows what, black kinky hair, smushed face, and crying.  She was blueish-greyish but quickly pinked up.
I experienced a love I had never known. And just like that, I was a mom.

Within those first weeks and months, I felt a roller coaster of unexpected guilt and pride. It's something I can articulate only now. At the time, I didn't realize it was guilt and pride.
Addie had trouble latching and nursing... guilt and failure. I must be a failure. I can't get her to do it. Something is wrong with me.  Ben and our lactation consultant would assure and reassure me - just keep at it, she'll get it, it's not your fault.  Slowly I let go of the responsibility and just kept trying. Eventually she got it.  In settles the pride. I did it.  My kid is amazing.  Yay me.  [Again, I didn't recognize or identify it as pride. I just felt good about myself.]

Then it was sleeping.  She slept 5 hours at night. Yay me.
She slept 7 hours. Yay me. 
She put herself back to sleep after crying during a nap. Yay me. 
I realize now that it sounds ridiculous - to take so much credit for your child's "success" at sleeping.
But perhaps you can look back on your days with a newborn and relate?
And then, she'd have trouble sleeping. And I felt like a failure.  Why can't I get her to nap? What's wrong with me? 

I don't remember when, but Ben and I were talking and being the verbal processor that I am, our conversation led me to this realization: If I take credit for the successes, it only makes sense that I am going to blame myself for the 'failures.' And a life of potential emotional bipolar-ness flashed before my eyes. I mean, we want some more kids. And they're going to get older. And the successes and failures will be bigger. I could only imagine how unsettling it would be to live life always taking credit for their success and beating myself up over their failure. [key word- always. obviously i have lots of responsibility in my role as 'mom.' but that's for another day.] How freeing it would be to learn my lesson now - turn it all over to the Lord.  Casting all my cares upon Him, because He cares for me. (1 Pet 5:7)
When she is sleeping well - hallelujah.
When she's not - Lord, give me strength & help me to give her grace.
When she's happy - thank you, Jesus.
When she's fussy - help me, Lord. Give me wisdom.

I am imperfect. So, I have not perfected this letting go of the guilt and the pride.
But growth starts with knowledge. And after knowledge, the Lord brings wisdom. He shows us what to do with our knowledge.
So, we grow.
And change.


1 comment:

  1. Wow. Thank you for sharing such beautifully-put, insightful thoughts. I know that pride-guilt cycle you're talking about! I just didn't realize that's what I've been doing. No wonder motherhood has felt like an emotional rollercoaster. I need to turn everything over to the Lord.