Thursday, August 1, 2013

The New Motherhood

When I had my first baby, nearly eight (8!) years ago, the word "Pinterest" didn't exist and "organic" referred to a movement of Christianity.  Granted, I was the first among my friends to have a baby and so the culture of motherhood hadn't begun for me.  I was naive with all things bebe and when I look back with the information I have now, I sigh at the experts and trends and THANK GOD that I'm not fresh on the journey.  Don't get me wrong.  I still really struggle with this "mom thing" and my own thoughts are usually own worst enemy.  Do you find yourself feeling totally inadequate... overwhelmed... lost... empty... skeptical... ineffective... and just plain befuddled when it comes to raising your kids?  I'm secretly hoping it's not just me.  

Wow.  If you're a new-ish mom, you've got it harder than I think our country has ever made it for us.  There is more pressure and comparison and that's-the-wrong-way-to-wear-a-baby and high fives for home births but don't give that baby rice cereal and keep them rear-facing until they're six, when they'll be just two years from their first taste of sugar.  Sheesh, ladies.  I can promise you that these things are new to the scene and were not around when I was stocking up on jarred baby food and store brand formula for my firstborn.  It's like a floodgate of knowledge broke open about three or four years ago and turns out that everything our mother did is dangerous, the FDA is a bunch of idiots, and the air we breathe is toxic.  The rug is always being yanked out from underneath our sore feet (that are either wider or longer than pre-baby) because someone with a megaphone (or Facebook newsfeed) read a supposedly helpful article about childrearing.  It's a subtle shift from just thinking "I'm a bad mom" to our society actually telling us "Every decision you're making as a mom is wrong." 

And it's ripping the heart out of motherhood.        

We've just recently found a church home (consider any organized group if church isn't your thing) and I'm working on developing relationships with other moms.  It's the first time, in a long time, that I don't know where she's coming from.  Will inviting her and her kids to Chick-Fil-A offend her because they use peanut oil?  What if vaccinations come up in conversation and we have opposite viewpoints?  What if she sees me pull out a disposable diaper & scented wipes?  I'm recognizing that all the information I've received over the past few years has written the word "divided" on my heart.  The font is fear, the ink is bold, and the message is clear.  War.  This is the war on motherhood. That rather than standing beside each other and FOR each other, we would disagree to the point of broken relationships and hesitation to start new ones.  We begin to believe that we must isolate ourselves in order to feel confident about our choices and styles of raising our sweet children.  We dread the debate, the conversation, and ultimately the intimacy of disagreeing but still loving and fighting for the greater cause.     

No wonder we avoid hate community with other moms.  

Dear friend, let me boldly remind you or tell you perhaps for the first time that you cannot do this alone.  You cannot imagine the sweet encouragement from the times I've been most vulnerable and honest with other moms about my impatience, failings, and fears.  When the tension and pressure to recoil from opportunities to truly share our heart with another mom pulls us, we must consistently choose to move forward.  I can almost guarantee that you will find compassion and relief that she feels the same way.  It will probably feel very awkward at first: you might be speaking Crunchy while she is speaking Silky, you'll pull out Pampers while she pins the cloth, and she'll occupy her child with an iPhone while you pull out your boob.  Get over it.  You both speak Mother and you bleed love and hope for your littles. You'll need each other some day and your kids need to see you being a friend.  Model boldness and courage and let them see "how big your brave is."  Watch this if you need some inspiration (or click here):  

And let me know how it goes!


Carole said...

You beautifully speak such truth that so desperately needs to be heard.

Emily said...

Heather, this is absolutely beautiful. And absolutely right. I had not thought about the whole avoiding-community-to-avoid-criticism, but it's certainly an undercurrent in my own life that I can recognize.

Jana said...
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