I am too hard on myself. My expectations of myself as a mother are purely ridiculous, and impossible for me to achieve. Some mothers may be able to check off everything on my ‘best mother’ checklist, but I doubt that they would have much time for the mothering part of motherhood if they did.
It has taken me a long time to find out who I am and what makes me ‘unique’. There really isn’t much about me that someone could clearly say, “She is the talented musician” or “She is the crazy fitness guru” or even “She is the gorgeous babe and doesn’t have to lift a finger”. Eventually I figured out that I like pregnant women. Actually, I have a passion for them and have invested a lot of my life in learning about them and serving them.
For a few years I was a doula and I loved that work. While being a doula I witnessed the birth of a handful of beautiful babies and those are precious memories to me, but more so because I was able to help those women into the journey of new motherhood. During this time I also worked with women who were contemplating abortion. I love pro-life work because I want pregnant women to feel hope and not despair. Life, instead of death. Love instead of loneliness. I have passionately dedicated my career life to these women – even giving up a degree for this low paying, emotionally difficult, highly unvalued line of work.
Now that I am the mother of four (two of my babies sleep in Heaven), I am trying to rediscover who I am now that I am a mother and it is very difficult. There are so many things that I want to be. I see many great qualities in many of my peers and I want to take each of those qualities and become that perfect woman. That perfect mother. But I lack. Oh but do I ever lack.
My checklist requires me to be beautiful at all time. Sexy. Stylish. Attractive. My teeth should be sparkling white and my hair perfect and in place. But this rarely happens and when it doesn’t, I do not see myself as beautiful. My checklist requires me to workout daily. I want to have a non-flabby body again. Sure I am petite and look pretty skinny, but my stomach is like an overstretched elastic band and doesn’t “tighten” easily. I want to be a working mom. A smart mom. The mom who is able to balance meal planning, schooling, working, physical fitness, housekeeping, date nights and looks good while doing it all.
But like I said, I lack. I want to do it all, but find that I just absolutely cannot. And among that checklist, I have missed out on the most important things. My babies. The reason I am a mother. The reason for my vocation. Maybe my checklist isn’t a bad thing, but maybe I need to include better priorities and give myself a break when I cannot achieve secular perfection.
I want to ask women how they survived motherhood, but realize that the only ones who survived motherhood are now dead. Hold on! Don’t stop reading! In no way am I trying to seem morbid here, but I think my point comes across clearly. There isn’t a survive period and then you move on. Motherhood is a constant battle.
The following article basically sums up how I felt after Ben was born: