I remember the day I took that first pregnancy test quite vividly. I’d been having some subtle symptoms for a week and half or so but I’d convinced myself it was all in my head. I definitely could not be pregnant. And then I thought, “Oh what the heck, I’ll just take one.”
Lo and behold, two blue lines. I was pregnant.
It was both exciting and terrifying. There was a tiny, little human being inside of me! I couldn’t believe it. I was actually going to be a mom. All my life I couldn’t wait to have kids of my own. And then when it was there, staring me right in the face, I suddenly felt very nervous. Was I really ready to be a mom?
As my pregnancy progressed I felt less scared and more excited. By the end of my pregnancy I could hardly wait to have my little man. I just wanted him here in my arms. (And I was really done being pregnant)
And then, at long last, he was here. My beautiful little boy. (Okay, I admit when he first came out he was kind of weird looking) They placed him on my chest for the first time and I nearly cried tears of joy. It was incredible.
And then we brought him home. And that’s when the real work began. It’s strange how being a mom, and a parent in general, can be both the best job in the world and the hardest. With no pay. Actually it’s more like negative pay. Yet, despite the trials that come with being a mom, it’s all worth it.
Even though I haven’t been a mom for very long, I’m beginning to realize there were things I believed about motherhood that really aren’t true. Ideas I've believed for so long I didn't realize how it was effecting the way I view myself and the way I view motherhood. It’s been a slow process, coming to terms with some of these ideas. But I've realized by believing these lies my view of motherhood has been twisted. It makes me feel like a failure, like I will never be good enough mother to my son. I realized that the enemy was messing with my head, twisting good things into things that hold me back and make me feel inadequate.
So these are just a few of the lies I've believed, whether consciously or not, for a majority of my life. And I think it's safe to say that there are many women out there who've believed these lies, who've let society tell them what a good mom looks like. My hope is that by opening up about this issue I've faced that other mothers out there can also do the same. So these are the lies I believed about motherhood.
Lie #1.Being a wife and mom will completely fulfill me
Back when I was in high school I had such a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. Did I want to be massage therapist? Did I want to be a teacher? Did I want to be an Imagineer for Disney? I bounced back and forth between this and that. Nothing ever really sticking. And in retrospect I can see why. It’s because even though I didn’t know what I wanted to be, I knew someday I wanted to be a wife and mom. It seemed a little silly to spend my time and money on college education when, in the end, my hope was simply to be a stay-at-home mom.
And then, shortly after I graduated my husband and I got married and three months later we were pregnant. It was just the sort of fairy tale ending I had hoped for. But just a few weeks after I had Levi I began to realize that motherhood is hard. I knew it would be, but I didn't know how much. And while I love my husband and son more than anything else in the world, I still didn’t feel completely fulfilled.
I know it shouldn’t have, but it shocked me. How could what I’ve dreamed of my entire life, not fulfill me? How could what God laid on my heart not fulfill me? It seemed crazy. I’d wanted this my whole life and now it didn’t feel like enough. And only recently did I begin to learn the truth.
Even though being a wife and mom is part of who I am, it is not solely who I am. My world had been revolving around being a wife and mom, even before I was either, when it should have been revolving around Jesus. I know that God put it on my heart to be a wife and mom, but idolizing my husband and son had left me bitter and empty. True fulfillment comes when I surrender my life to Christ. And by doing that I’ve learned to appreciate and love being a wife and mom even more. Go figure, right?
Lie #2. I will instantly bond with my child
As I mentioned earlier it was one of the most amazing days when my little baby boy was born, albeit hard, but nonetheless amazing. When they laid him on my chest for the first time it was the best feeling in the world. After all of this hard work, he was finally here. We had a magical “golden hour” (or two if I’m honest). I felt elated. I was on cloud nine. Nothing could bring me down!
And then the epidural wore off. And the adrenaline died down. I was tired. I was in pain. And suddenly I had more responsibility than ever before. Levi had trouble nursing at first. I was struggling with breastfeeding. Oh, and did I mention I was exhausted and in a lot of pain? Suddenly, being a mom seemed a lot less magical.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Levi from the moment I met him. But I just didn’t feel that instant bonding that other women say they felt. I know it may not have really been the case but it certainly felt like Levi preferred pretty much anyone else to me. Unless he was hungry. In the beginning I just felt like a milk machine. How come we didn’t have that special bond that moms share with their babies? Was I doing something wrong?
Once again, in retrospect, I can see the truth. The matter of the fact is, even though I’d carried this little guy for nine months, we still had to get to know each other. Like with any relationship, be it your spouse or your sister or your friend, the more time you spend getting to know them, the more you learn about one another and the more you bond. Sometimes, even mom and baby relationships just take time. And that’s okay. (That being said, if after a long time you still don’t feel bonded to your baby that can be a sign of postpartum depression so you really ought to talk with your doctor.)
Lie #3. I have to be superwoman
This is one lie that still plagues me. I have been slow to really take this to heart. But I know in my head that it’s simply not true.
I was so naive when it came to motherhood. Even though I’ve grown up working with kids there are still some things that took me off guard. I had all these ideas about what I was going to do once I was a mom. Things like making homemade baby food, and nursing for the first year and keeping my house clean all of the time.
Boy oh boy, was I in for a shock. Guess what? When you’re a mom, you’re kind of tired sometimes. I know. Truly shocking. It’s amazing how some days I feel like I’m so on top of things. I’ve done the laundry and the dishes. I’ve played with Levi and given him super healthy, homemade baby food. I’ve even showered, put on makeup and a cute outfit! Look out world, here I come!
And then the next day I’m chugging down coffee in sweatpants and it’s all I can do to make it til naptime. How could I be so awesome one day and so… not awesome the next? And why did I feel like such a failure for simply being tired?
Well I’m learning, very slowly I might add, that I don’t have to superwoman. Striving to be a good wife and mom is a very good thing. But trying to be perfect twenty-four/seven is impossible. Not to mention, absolutely exhausting. The thing is, kids don’t really care if you’re superwoman or not. At the end of the day if your kids are fed and loved, then you’re doing a pretty good job.
Lie #4. I will love being a mom all the time
This lie sort of goes back to the very first one, thinking that motherhood will somehow completely fulfill you. Thinking that you will love every second of every day of being a mom. The truth is, you won’t. I’m sure by now you’ve realized motherhood is no picnic. It’s hard work. Changing poopy diapers, cleaning up perpetual messes, finding mysterious crusty substances stuck to your jeans. (Is it poop? Is it spit up? Is it baby food? Guess we’ll never know..)
It’s enough to drive any sane person completely bonkers! And sometimes, I don’t love being a mom. Sometimes I long for the days when I could just leave the house whenever I wanted. Now I have to pack up a baby and pray that I can get my errands finished before he has a meltdown.
For a while I felt so guilty about this. I had always wanted to be a mom, why would I not love being a mom all the time? I’ve come to realize, it’s okay if I don’t love being a mom all the time. I was a person before I became a mom. I will be a person after my children grow up and leave. Sometimes, even the best moms, just need a break. And that's okay.
This isn’t so much a lie I believed about motherhood, but a lie I believed about myself. I’ve never felt particularly strong either physically or spiritually. I’ve never been super outgoing or brave or courageous.
But perhaps the first thing I learned about motherhood; that I am way stronger than I ever knew. It takes strength to carry a baby for nine months and deal with all the lovely side effects of pregnancy. It takes strength to bring a baby into this world, regardless of the type of birth you have. It takes strength to get up at three in the morning, more tired than you’ve ever been, and nurse your baby while your husband sleeps soundly. (Seriously. So not fair)
Becoming a mom is learning that you are stronger than you ever knew or believed possible. Being a mom is not for the faint of heart. And yet, so many women I know are incredible, strong mothers. (My own being the best obviously;)
We may not be perfect moms. We will all make mistakes. We will all be tired. But to be a mom is a privilege and a blessing. And yes it’s one of the hardest jobs out there. But it is one of the best.