It's not often that I post a more serious entry on the blog, but I find that each time I do, it serves as a type of therapy for me. To be honest, I've written quite a few of these types of posts, but most of them remain unpublished out of fear or pride. But every once in a while I know that I need to share a post, not only for myself, but for others. Similar to this post from the past, I know I'm not alone in my feelings. That the anxiety, fear and worry are normal, and maybe even in an odd way healthy. And because I know others have been, are, or will be in in my place, I want to share my thoughts.
More than any other success in life, becoming a good mom has always been at the top of my list. But now that I'm pregnant, I find myself terrified of actually becoming one. For a long time I thought it was because lil' Wif was an "unplanned surprise;" I just needed to adjust to the new timeline my life was on and come to terms with the fact that my plan wasn't God's plan. But over the past few months, as I've watched my weekly babycenter email counter of how far along I am grow and the "weeks to go" number shrink, I've found myself becoming more and more scared to meet this little guy.
I've had breakdowns in the car, shed tears at night, and probably have cracked one too many jokes about losing my mind (and my figure) to this little linebacker in my belly (he kicks HARD). I have yet to purchase anything beyond a few items for the nursery - I can't even bring myself to actually buy clothes or shoes or anything that he might wear, because for some reason I think it would make it too real.
I've always struggled with change, but never really knew it until my world came crashing down around me when I was getting ready to marry Mike, but that's another story for another day. Since then, I've learned a lot about myself and know that I must identify the root reason why I'm afraid of change for me to ever move forward. Add my fear of change to the fact that I've never really been a "kid-lover," and it makes me downright petrified to know I'm going to be a mom in three short months.
Growing up, I never babysat or cared to hold a newborn - I generally just ignored the existence of babies. Even my nephews, who have shown me that I could actually love and care for a child, quickly lose their luster when I can't calm them down or they spit up on my shirt. I get desperate fast and give my sister-in-laws eyes that say, "Please take your child now or I may drop them."
So far throughout this pregnancy, I've been avoiding truly thinking about how I feel and have just been riding the highs and lows of pregnancy. But these past couple of weeks, as that number hit the "15, 14 and 13 weeks to go" mark, I've found my chest tightening up, the tears come hotter and faster, and Mike more and more bewildered at my anxiety.
And then one day it hit me. I'm afraid of failing as a mom. To be specific, I'm fearful that I'm so selfish, that I will resent my child when he has needs that are not convenient to my life. I'm afraid that I'll be angry at my innocent child when he needs to eat, AGAIN. When I can't calm him in the middle of the night, when he needs yet another diaper change or when I have to purchase him another wardrobe for his growing body, instead of having fun money to purchase my weekly Starbucks. If I'm truly honest, I'm afraid of not having my world revolve around me. Me. Me. Me.
How ugly is that?
It's scary for me to have to deal with the ugly. To know that when he arrives in a few short months, I HAVE to deal. That I can no longer hide my sin-riddled heart, but that I will be tested, tried and refined. Changing long-held ugly is hard and even more so, painful. A few days ago, Mike reminded me that all parents are afraid of failing their child. And I suppose he's right. One mother might be afraid of not knowing what to do when their child is sick, another might be afraid of knowing how to instill the right morals and values, and another might just be petrified of choosing the right shampoo. But in the end, doesn't it all add up to a fear of failure in our new roles?
For some reason, I find comfort in knowing I'm not alone. To know there is an entire army of mother's out there who have shook in their boots just as much as me. Even the moms who as girls, loved to babysit, were the first to volunteer to hold a baby on their hips, and played make-believe house or school, pretending they had a flock of children they were shepherding. (In contrast, as girls, my cousin and I invented a make-believe organization called "Jensen Making Adoptions Better," - a business we "ran" where we were attempting to get rid of children, not keep them!)
Even the best of the best babysitters - the girls I always looked at in awe for natural-motherly instincts - have admitted to me that they too were scared when reality hit that another life would be depending on them. In the end, I don't think any of us are ready to take on this monumental role. Are we ever really ready for anything that will change our life and redefine our identity? I don't think so.
But thank goodness for grace. Over this past month, God has been reminding me (by basically beating me over the head) of his widespread grace in my upcoming role as a parent. Through my brilliant husband, some wise family members, and during my devotional time, God has told me, "You. will. fail. You will have a selfish heart. You won't want to always want to care for your baby's needs immediately. You will find it hard to change your schedule, get less sleep and have your life broken down into three hour increments."
"But I will give you grace."
Mike always reminds me that I probably won't jump for joy at three a.m. when our baby wakes - but that's okay, I don't have to feel joy each and every time. I just have to take care of him and do the next thing. It's not how I feel, it's what I do with those feelings that matter. He tells me it's just like when he and I have an argument - I don't always want to talk about it with him, but I do it - because I know it's best for our marriage. And I know deep down, that he's right. That I don't have to have a perfectly happy heart every single moment of the day, but I do have to believe that God will work through my imperfections, to change me for his good, and grant me grace when I fail.
Slowly but surely I'm coming to terms with this truth. I find my chest relaxing and my 2 a.m. worry spells coming less and less. I'm comforted in knowing I'm not alone and my feelings are nothing new. They don't surprise my friends, my family, and they definitely don't surprise God. Kinda ironic that I was surprised to learn that, isn't it?
Last night, Mike and I were talking about this again. He said he'd go with me to make our first outfit purchase for the baby, shoes and all.
I think we'll tackle it this week.