My early fears in finding out we were pregnant were mostly centered on not feeling ready to be a mom. It seemed to me that women who plan to start a family are a bit more “ready.” Oftentimes I was struck with such an intense fear or anxiety about entering motherhood. I’ve been watching my sister and close friends become moms for 12 years now. There is a sort of sisterhood in motherhood. Unfortunately, it’s not a sisterhood I always long to be a part of. Becoming pregnant means a sort of passage into this new “sisterhood.” And, like most places where there is a majority of females, it doesn’t always feel like the most welcoming of places. I have learned a lot in these past 8 or so months. About myself, about God, about other women, about this sisterhood of motherhood.
One thing that has struck me is the lack of ability to celebrate with one another in the choices we make as moms. I’ve noticed pride and defensiveness, judgment and criticism, and comparison. None of which have been drawing me into this next journey. Not only have I seen and experienced this in other women, I’ve noticed it in myself. There have been countless times that I’ve talked to Adam about this and been so overwhelmed by it. Why do we care so much how others choose to raise their children or run their lives? Why can’t we, as women, come around one another and support the choices we make? And celebrate in our differences!
Another part of this fear for me has been the knowledge that I will screw up as a mom. What if I can’t do it? I have been so encouraged by others, including high school kids, about being a mom. BUT. When I look at all the moms that have gone before me, they look like they have it all together. It’s as if we are afraid to admit we don’t have it all together or know exactly what to do. It isn’t until I really talk to moms that I see some vulnerability and humility. Otherwise I feel like we live in a world that is telling us to act like we can handle it all. Can we? Then where does God fit into this if we can handle it all on our own?
In sharing my own hopes, desires, plans, whatever with others I’ve been confronted with this harsh truth—it feels like no one wants you to succeed. One of my hopes is to have a natural birth. This isn’t a new concept at all. I don’t even think it’s crazy. But, usually when I share this with other women I am confronted with words and attitudes that don’t feel encouraging. I’m not going around with an “I’m better than you” attitude about this. I’ve done reading and taken a natural childbirth class, I have a husband who is supportive, and we’ve invested in a doula to help. And, I’m completely realistic. I know that all that matters is a safe arrival into this world for our baby girl. And in reality, a natural childbirth provides that the most. “God created my body to do this” is my mantra that I plan on reminding myself in labor. Giving birth is a HUGE deal whether we have a c-section, painkillers, or natural. None makes a woman “better.” Yet, I feel like I constantly have to defend this desire of mine.
In college I took a Parenting class for my major. And something my professor said has always stayed with me…”parents are doing the best they know how with what they have.” I believe this is mostly true, and it’s allowed me to have a little more compassion for moms out there. Granted, we may think otherwise at times.
I have amazing girl friends and am incredibly fortunate and thankful for the variety of women in my life. This journey is teaching me to celebrate with each of them in the uniqueness of who they are as women, as moms, as friends. I have been so frustrated with a sense of competition or pride that infects this sisterhood. More than anything when I’ve shared something about my plans; I’ve just wanted others to encourage me in that. But, unfortunately I’m met with a “you have no idea til you get there” or “are you sure you want to do that” kind of attitude. Why does it even matter? I’m not saying it’s all other people because God’s been holding up a mirror to me as well. He’s revealed all the yucky parts of my heart that have been critical or judgmental towards others. He’s teaching me how to be more compassionate and gracious towards others. He’s showing me my need for this sisterhood because what I want to do most is run away from it and do this by myself. I realize as women we need each other, whether we have children or not. You may think someone’s choice or decision is crazy, but if it’s not endangering anyone, encourage them and celebrate the fact that God has created all of us to be different types of women, of friends, of moms.
At about 33 weeks I had my biggest “meltdown” which I like to describe as a thunderstorm. ☺ I felt all these fears and emotions coming to a head. God has been nudging me to talk about them, and I had some. But on this particular day, they flooded out of me. The excitement of having a baby and the fear of entering the unknown. The uncertainty of the future. The frustrations and hurt I felt from others. The heartache for my friends. All of it just BOOM exploded. And my husband was there in it with me and it was wonderful. Shortly after this, maybe a week or so, I sensed an incredible peace. It felt almost tangible. God was reminding me that He’s got me in His hands. He’s equipping me. He’s preparing me. He’s chosen this journey for me. He’s given me a partner who loves and supports me and is in this with me. He wants me to trust Him. I will mess up. I will encounter discouragement from others. I will need Him more than ever. I will also learn to celebrate with others. I will learn to encourage them in their own choices or desires, even if they seem crazy to me. I am a part of this sisterhood now. I will embrace it.