I know it’s a bit of a brutal opener but nobody warned me having kids would be as hard as it is. Maybe if they did warn you no one would have more than one child.
Almost 9 years ago we brought a tiny little Phoebe home from the hospital, and I remember thinking ‘where is the manual for this little human being’ because the ‘natural mummy instinct’ I thought would kick in…didn’t! It escaped me.
As a mum I had read and heard countless accounts about how you can differentiate between every cry your baby makes; hungry, tired, in need of comfort, a clean nappy or wind. But to me, as a new mum with no idea what I was doing, they all sounded the same. A heart breaking cry I could do nothing about.
So it’s probably not hard to see that as I felt so ill-equipped, I was susceptible to post natal depression. I have such clarity of the memories of head butting our bedroom wall because my baby wouldn’t sleep and being so angry with Carl for being able to sleep whilst also not wanting to wake him to get him to help me. I can also remember with such guilt and shame the feeling of wanting to smother my baby just for there to be a moment of quiet, just to get some sleep. And admitting that is like one of those things you want to admit to others whilst also feeling like those words are sticking in your throat so badly that it makes you wretch. There is something about not saying those words outloud that makes the experience seem less horrific.
Sometimes, actually quite a lot, I think that maybe I wasn’t cut out to have kids. It makes you question every area of your being and the world you are bringing them up in.We all know how much of a broken world that currently is. Having children has brought me worry, fear and anxiety. I doubt every choice I make that concerns them and am convinced I am doing more damage than good. After we started having children I began raising the bar of expectation on myself to a point that I had unachievable standards for myself; to be the perfect pintrest mummy and wife. The problem with impossible standards is that it leaves you feeling like a failure and you miss out on so many wonderful things.
Kids, my kids anyway, seem to have some inbuilt skill to shine a flashlight on my insecurities, one of my darling children is exceptionally good at this and is able to speak angrily the doubts I have deep down “you’re being so cruel, you’re so strict, you’re the worst mum…”
It doesn’t help that we live in the glittery age of Facebook where we all, me included, post images of happy mess free lives and homes,
The reality hasn’t quite matched up. I wonder if it’s ok to scrape back the shiny veneer and reveal the truth below the surface?
It probably sounds silly but I find my daily dog walks to be one of the times I am most at peace.
I am able to breath more deeply, not in a meditating kind of way but a slowing myself and taking a moment kind of way. I feel calmer, more complete and closer to God and I feel a bit more like I’m open to listening to God rather than coming at him with my list of wants. Outside I am more likely to look up and out. My walks are the place I can feel the sun light on my face and its life giving warmth.
Because in the daily and the mundane I so often get bogged down and for me that means I look down.
While looking down on my dog walk I noticed the roots of the trees
If I don’t take hold of that then I get blown over. If my roots are not deeply embedded then I get uprooted, Dorothy style from the Wizard of Oz, and come down with a crash.
I was so desperate to be the perfect mum, with my perfect baby, doing perfect things but you can’t be this perfect human being because unfortunately for me, or maybe that’s extremely fortunately for me, there is only one truly perfect person and he died on a cross for me.
You can only try and keep up the facade of perfection for a very short amount of time before something has to give and the cracks begin to show.
I’m pretty sure that despite growing up in a Christian home my faith is quite immature.
At the moment my roots are more like this, weak and needing support
A few weeks ago I spoke (can’t say preached it’s too grown up) on the book of Job. He is a guy who lost everything and still he trusted in God’s goodness. My life has been nowhere near as tough and yet when things have been hard I have lost my footing.
Its pretty easy to trust that God is good when life is also good but past experience has shown me that when things are hard I haven’t been able to hold steadfast to the truth that God is still good and he is still at work.
A dear friend said she couldn’t imagine what it cost me to lay myself so open, I quote Ann Voskamp as a beautiful response “your broken will break you unless you release it; speak it out. Instead of trying to put all the broken pieces of your life together again – maybe there is a deeper peace in reaching out and giving those broken pieces away”.