Thursday, February 2, 2012

Embracing Motherhood



I was barely a wife before I became a mom.

About six weeks after my husband and I got married, we found out we were pregnant with our first daughter. My husband was still in undergrad at the time, with plans to get a masters degree in counseling. Within that first year of marriage, Jeff graduated, we moved to a small town, and Jeff started a new job.

Kyla was born in November that year, and we celebrated our first anniversary in December. I worked fulltime until the sixth month of my pregnancy and did my best to ward off all the unwanted mothering advice I received in our new little town (where the church my husband worked for was literally in a cornfield).

Not long after that, we moved to my home state of Colorado. Jeff started graduate school, and I found myself doing something I never thought would happen: I became a working mom. God has given Jeff a specific calling, and following a counseling degree, he started seminary.

In many ways, I’ve been reeling since the moment I found out I was going to be a mom. I had wanted time to prepare for motherhood. I didn’t ever get that, and nearly every morning I got up to get ready for work these last seven years, I felt like a failure.

See, I had been taught by the church community I grew up in that working mothers are selfish and “don’t love their children.” I also remember reading a book just after Kyla was born that told me how to be a wife like God wanted, much of it based on Proverbs 31. At that point, I didn’t even know I’d go back to working later, and I threw the book away. I didn’t want anyone to experience the bondage I felt when I read all the expectations I was supposed to live up to as a mom, wife, and woman.

All I knew was that while I couldn’t live up to the unrealistic checklists I had been given, I loved Kyla deeply and I believed in my husband’s calling. Really, it is a calling on our whole family, and just before seminary we added another daughter—Kaelyn.

Because I haven’t lived up to what I thought I was supposed to be, over the years I’ve been defensive of people’s comments about moms who work or their praise for mothers who are home all the time. I’ve wasted too many breaths trying to convince others I’m a “good mom.” At times, I’ve blamed God or my husband for our position in life. Even though, deep down, I knew that wasn’t the reason for why I felt so awful every morning.

Then, one day last year, I had an epiphany.

I started asking myself some questions…What if I stopped worrying about all the things I wasn’t doing on a daily basis and instead parented out of what I was doing—the things I love, my own experiences, and the what God is doing in me? (Instead of what I thought He was supposed to be doing in me.) What if, because of working, I now happen to have a set of skills I would never have had before, and what if I was now able to pass those skills along to my girls? Skills like conflict resolution, communication with a team, and creativity while under pressure.

From that place, I started embracing motherhood with confidence. I’m tired of worrying about what others think of my abilities as a mom or how many hours I spend writing. This is who I am. I am a writer. I am a communicator. I am called to leadership in God’s church.

My girls are cared for, and my story is different from every other mom. Some moms homeschool. Some mothers practice law. Some moms love doing daily art projects with their children. Other moms write books and speak at conferences.

There is room for all of us, and we need to come alongside each other. Because if we don’t, there will be a lot of women who don’t know who they are once their children leave home, and they will have spent too many years before that point only living out a role. We are not our roles. We are what God made us to be. That’s what I hope to show my girls, through my actions and also through my words, written and otherwise. Because that’s who I am.

4 comments:

Emily said...

Love this. :)

Tara Owens said...

So true. So beautiful. So brave.

Keep living out of who you are, Becca. The world, your girls, and *I* need you.

Suzanne said...

Really good! You should consider submitting this to ungrind.org.

Becca said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Suzanne. I might do that!