I reached a point this last weekend where I wanted to run away from home.
A long weekend. Bliss, right? For the working mother, three days with child and husband should be perfect. I could play catch-up, endless hours of patty-cake and cuddles.
Well, endless–that’s one way to put it.
My darling daughter, eight-month-old Libbie, whined relentlessly and refused to nap for THREE. LONG. DAYS.
What was I doing wrong? She had a clean diaper, was well-fed, and has three million toys at her disposal. We tried bouncing, snuggling, walking, ignoring, and even Baby Einstein. Nothing helped.
By Saturday afternoon I was questioning whether I should have waited longer to become a mom. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for it. Maybe I expected too much of this little child. Maybe I could run away and start over, fulfilling my lifelong dream of becoming a Broadway star.
And then the guilt starts. Why don’t I have more patience? Why can’t I make her happy? What is wrong with me? How could I even think such awful thoughts about my sweet baby? Obviously, I am the worst person in the entire world and should simply be put in a mental institution. Toting Libbie around the grocery store Saturday afternoon in her sling, I kissed the top of her head and told her I was sorry she had such a crazy mother. I piled ice cream and baby food into my basket, silent tears dripping in her fine baby hair.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” right? So why the guilt? Why the panic?
The preschool minister at our church advised me that times like this are normal. That we feel so inadequate as parents so we will stay continually on our knees, praying for survival for the next 18 years and then some.
For me, times like this come when a) I haven’t been in the Word and in prayer like I need to be; and b) I haven’t been talking about my struggles with anyone. I begin to feel like I am the only person EVER to be this awful of a mother. Having community, friends who are willing to be authentic, is crucial to not letting the panic of motherhood escalate. So much of the time, I feel like everyone else must have it all together, because I don’t see otherwise. We need to be real, people. Be willing to admit that we struggle in parenthood, struggle in our faith, sometimes want to run away to New York City.
I find so much as Americans we aren’t willing to be vulnerable. Pride makes us believe we can’t let on that we’re hurting or need help.
Practice vulnerability this week. Open up to a friend. They might be battling something big and just need an opening. Call someone when their name comes to your mind. It can make a world of difference.