No one ever told me how emotionally taxing and exhausting being a mother would be. Sure, people talked about the sleepless nights, the terrible twos, the “I know everything” teenagers and the process of letting a child grow into adulthood, but no one ever talked to me about the fear, the doubt and/or the gut-wrenching, cut to the bone, overwhelming sense of responsibility that consumes you the second you enter motherhood.
Motherhood is hard. I’ve been a mom for 2 1/2 years and although my boys bring me more joy than I ever could have imagined, I am consistently overwhelmed by being a mom.
I 100% believe that my feelings of fear, doubt and responsibility are intensified greatly because of the fact that I have spent the better part of my 2 1/2 years as a mother studying and practicing clinical social work, causing me to learn and experience first hand the devastating impact of poor parenting, however I do not believe that I am alone in my feelings. Every mother I have ever shared my heart with has echoed my fears, doubts and sense of responsibility in some way or another.
So, in the spirit of honesty and sharing my heart in an attempt to normalize motherhood, here are the things that make me feel fearful, doubtful and overwhelmed with responsibility:
- I fear that my children will get hurt.
- I fear that I won’t be able to comfort them when they do get hurt.
- I fear that I won’t be a good mother.
- I doubt that I have it in me to be the “good enough” mother that is required for a child to adapt.
- I fear that my children won’t grow up to know, love and follow hard after Jesus.
- I doubt that I have the ability to be a Godly example of a woman who knows, loves and follows hard after Jesus.
- I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising children to know, love and follow hard after Jesus.
- I fear that I have misused, will misuse and constantly underestimate the period of time in which children learn and form appropriate attachment styles.
- I doubt that I have done or will do everything I need to do in order to ensure the mental health and proper attachment styles of my children.
- I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of ensuring proper and “good” mental health for my children.
- I fear that I won’t want to hang out with my kids when they are teenagers.
- I doubt my children will want to hang out with me when they are teenagers, which breaks my heart, because I know a family in which this isn’t the case and I want it so badly.
- I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising Godly, productive, strong, genuine, patient, kind and selfless members of society.
- I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of teaching my children that they are unique and special but that those qualities do not entitle them to anything and that selfishness, entitlement and greed are ugly, ugly characteristics to display.
- I fear that I will not know how to let go and allow my children to become independent adults and therefore I will not be able to have healthy, lasting, adult relationships with my children.
- I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of raising children to value and cherish purity of heart, mind and body, especially knowing how little I have cherished these things throughout my life.
- I fear that I will be a judgmental, outspoken, mean-spirited, meddlesome mother-in-law (because I am all of those things as a person, wife, mother and friend) and that my relationships with my children-in-laws will be tense and stricken with mistrust and obligations.
- I fear being the mother of a girl.
- I doubt I know how to mother a girl.
- I fear I won’t be able to parent differently in the areas I want to change and parent the same in the uncountable ways in which my parents did a phenomenal job.
- I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of “breaking the cycle” regarding so many personal and family unhealthy habits.
- I doubt I know how to raise physically healthy, active and confident children.
- I fear that my baggage will become my children’s baggage.
- I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of being the first representation of Christ’s love to my children.
Truthfully, I could keep listing my fears, doubts and overwhelming feelings of responsibility but for my own mental health, I have to stop. Because, you know what? These are tools of the enemy. Feeling these things is natural. Using them as motivation to draw nearer to my Maker and to being the mom that He created me to be (flaws and all) is helpful. But dwelling on them and allowing them to consume and paralyze me (as I often do) is exactly what the enemy wants. He comes to “steal, kill and destroy” and every second I dwell on these fears, doubts and overwhelming feelings of responsibility, he is destroying me as a woman, wife, mother and most importantly, child of God. I refuse to allow the enemy to steal the joy that comes from being mother, to kill my ability to mother with love, patience and confidence or to destroy my relationships with my children because of it! When I dwell on these things, I allow the enemy to win and do not allow myself the grace required to be the best mother that I can be.
I tried to write this blog about 4 1/2 months ago, right after Noah was born. I was experiencing postpartum depression and the enemy was winning. I had no perspective and couldn’t get through the first paragraph without becoming paralyzed by my fear, sobbing and doubt. I decided to wait until I wasn’t so hormonal, sad and tired. Sometimes, that is how motherhood goes.
So here’s to you mommy friends who feel intense fear, agonizing doubt and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. You are not alone! There is hope and it is found in the peace of Christ. It is found in His love, strength, grace, forgiveness and gentle embrace. It is found in the mother He created and equips you to be.
And take heart, mommy friends who are paralyzed. Know that the enemy has been overcome by one who is greater and can be overcome in you. Get out of bed every morning prepared for battle. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Guard your heart and do not allow yourself to compare. Pray endlessly and rest in His assurance that even if/when you do fail, His grace has covered you.
This motherhood thing is a wild ride; harder and more emotionally exhausting that words can say, but you are not alone. I am not alone. You, my friend, just like me, must trust in the mother God has created you to be!