The Price of Your Motherhood
What were you like before you had a child or started trying to get pregnant? I can distinctly remember being fun, flirty, and outgoing. I didn’t know what anxiety was like. My mom had told me she had struggled with anxiety some, and I literally didn’t even know what it was. I thought I did, because I felt nervous before big tests or had a knot in my stomach if someone was upset with me (and that still happens). Was that anxiety? Maybe slightly, but nothing like I’ve experienced since having children. I just recently started reading articles about postpartum anxiety, and how it doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as postpartum depression, and it’s so different! To me, postpartum anxiety is like being a TV with only an on button, and the volume slowly gets louder and louder. This happens to me every. single. night. It’s definitely gotten better now that Hazel is six months old, but once my head hits the pillow, my mind starts to think about all the ungodly things that could happen to either of my children. Think about there being a news channel talking about all the heinous crimes committed against children like they talk about politics. THAT’S MY FREAKING HEAD! That’s why I absolutely cannot watch any news these days. There’s already too much going on up there. Some nights, when the anxiety really starts attacking me, all I can do is cry. I let tears stream silently down my cheeks, because I don’t want to wake Kevin up. I don’t want to be found out. I don’t want to be coddled and told it’ll be okay. I don’t want to be hugged, because that won’t fix it! I just want it to stop! I want to actually know that Hazel is okay if she doesn’t wake up for her nightly feeding instead of thinking she’s dead or not having to worry about all the noises in my house when I go to bed alone…how do I rescue my girls from an intruder that’s going to sell them in some sex trafficking circle?!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Those thoughts are the beginning of the anxiety spiral. In reality, I know it’s Satan’s attacks on my vulnerable state as a mom. Our mommy hearts are so susceptible to all of these ploys and anxious matters, because the love for our children has no bounds, and they are literally our own hearts walking around on this imperfect earth. That’s the price for my motherhood. I’m not saying you or I should live like this, because we shouldn’t have to! There are ways to break these walls down. If you’re a Christian, like I am, the first thing that comes to mind is to surround yourself with scripture and mommy friends who can be there for all the tears and fears. My friends that I do life with right now are my actual life lines.
There’s no telling when I start my days. Sometimes it’s 1am. Sometimes it’s 8am. Every day is so different, and I hate to say it, but it’s so hard to sit down and have a quiet moment to read scripture by myself without a kid crying, being sassy, or just wanting to play! So, those mommy friends who also have your same beliefs are vital to your soul!
Another price I pay for motherhood is mom guilt. No matter where I am or what I’m doing. It’s forever there. It’s as much a part of me as my heart beat or my own breath. It won’t stop. I could be going on a girls’ trip (which is happening this week!) or just to the grocery store without the kids. It’s something you’ll never understand until you have a child. Never. Yes, I felt guilty leaving our dog at home when we went out to eat before we had children. I wanted her to be able to enjoy a walk downtown, and sit under our feet at our table. But the guilt associated with your own flesh and blood, or a sweet little baby you adopted and love as your own flesh and blood, can actually feel like death. When mommy guilt starts to happen…say that you’re having a girls’ night out and you won’t be home until midnight…the days leading up to this night, you’re wildly excited and cannot wait to go out with just your girlfriends. Then, the day your night out is here. Guilt starts. “What if the girls need me and only me tonight? What if the baby will only nurse to sleep and won’t take a bottle? Will Hallen scream for me and not be able to settle down? Can Kevin handle it? He’ll probably need my help. I shouldn’t leave him with all of the work. Two kids alone is a lot of work!” The rabbit hole continues… And if you have anxiety, the guilt then runs into anxiety…”He won’t be able to get them down. What if he doesn’t hear Hazel crying? He might leave a blanket in the crib with Hazel, because he doesn’t know her bedtime routine. She might die of SIDS. I don’t want him to feel guilty about Hazel’s death for the rest of his life. What if that leads to divorce, because I’ve heard a child’s death breaks up so many marriages? What if I literally can’t live without her?”
Y’all! I know I’m not the only one that thinks things like this. I wish my head immediately thought of Bible verses like Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” That’s kind of the opposite of what I do. I end up dwelling on my thoughts, and not even letting Kevin into my head, because I don’t want to be that vulnerable! It’s like one wall after another that I shouldn’t even have to worry about climbing. I think, we as women, just naturally do this to ourselves. We want to fend for ourselves. We want to have a sense of independence after children. I know I was raised to be an independent woman…weren’t you too?
But there’s something about this “independence” that can’t be good for us. Once we’re married, we’re one. Independence all of a sudden becomes a “dependent independence.” You’re an independent unit that depends on each other. I have to rely on Kevin’s guidance and sobering, calming words in my times of anxiety and guilt. I have to trust that he can do his job as a father just as well as I can be a mother. I don’t know why motherhood has made me want to be even more self-reliant (except when it comes to children duties, of course), but the attacker keeps trying to push us away from one another instead of uniting us to each other. Family photos, like the one above, never show what’s really going on inside. It looks like we have it all together, but I’ll tell you right now that we don’t. We love each other and truly work at our marriage, but motherhood (and parenthood in general) really refines you, and the process of being refined is not always a pretty process! And neither is motherhood!
As soon as you get pregnant, you’re forever changed. Your story as a mommy starts right when that baby forms. The price of your motherhood begins, and it’s not a “cheap” role. Somedays you may wonder why you did this. Where did the carefree you go, and when did this anxiety come and, why won’t it leave you alone? WHO am I ?! I drive a minivan now!
This may not be the cheeriest of posts, but I know I try to keep a lot of things buried…even from my own friends! And I just wanted you to know that you aren’t alone. All of us are fighting every day to be the best mother we can be while losing our sanity and sometimes ourselves. And I want to hear from you about how you find yourself and still maintain your own sense of identity through motherhood and what your “price of your motherhood” is. When you speak it aloud, especially to a trusted friend, that thing that’s holding you down won’t hold as much power over you anymore!