If you scroll through Pinterest or Insta for any length of time, you are bound to see a sun-drenched room, a doting daddy, a beautiful, long-haired mama, and precious children all positioned perfectly for that moment in time. No one ever shares the moments or days before or after THAT moment. The picture cannot communicate the frustration heard beneath the parents’ smiles or the tears shed trying to get their little ones to cooperate. Perhaps, the dark circles under the mother’s eyes are photo-shopped out of the picture. Perhaps, the doting dad didn’t even want to be in the shot. Perhaps, the baby is currently sitting in a dirty diaper, and perhaps, the toddler hasn’t napped in days. But, for that moment, for the rest of the world to see, that family looks like they have it all together. And for people like me, even being fully aware of what it takes to get the perfect shot, my expectations are skewed. There’s nothing wrong with the photo itself, in fact, the photo should be praised for how it portrays a family, but it is my perception that is off. And if we’re being honest, my perception has been off for a few weeks.
Writing is therapy for me. Whereas I am reserved in speech, I am open in print. I don’t understand why God made me this way, and far too often I wish my mouth could convey my thoughts the way my hand types them. But alas, I am here, once more pouring my heart over the keyboard, bringing a slew of people I don’t know in, hoping and praying God takes these few words and uses them to minister to hearts.
Everyone tells you how insane life is with two under two. They share their horror stories and their sweet memories, and while their words were meant to encourage, I was often left with feelings of mommy guilt. Did we make a mistake by being “proactive” and starting to try earlier than later for a sibling for our girl? (Let me stop there and say, I fully know that fear is from the pit of Hell, the sweet baby sitting beside me, as I type, is by no means a surprise to my All-knowing God. She was brought forth at this time to accomplish His pleasing and perfect will.) Other fears like, how will I be able to give of myself to a busy toddler, a newborn baby, and a precious husband, all while taking care of my home and myself (in some way)? Will our toddler like her sister? When will I sleep and shower? How will J feel about a house full of girls? The list went on and on, I would lie awake at night swollen and hurting from pregnancy, savoring each kick, all the while trying to pray away the fears Satan placed in my head.
Then, Lettie arrived, and all those irrational fears subsided as I sat in a hospital bed watching my Star hold out her hands for her sister without even seeing her face. As I watched my husband hold both his girls, telling our oldest, his mini, all about her sister. As I smelled that sweet newborn smell, and felt her body match the rhythm of mine. My heart only grew, and for that moment, the image of my family rivaled all those images on Pinterest and Instagram.
Fast forward a few weeks, a massive kidney infection, a bachelorette party, birthday parties, graduation parties, a huge wedding, and a family holiday, a clingy baby, a busy toddler, a home full of projects, a new diet plan (to help Lettie), and learning a new routine, and this mama was left completely spent, sleep deprived, yet an insomniac, and feeling completely lost and out of control. Amid all the hustle and bustle of life, those baby blues had turned into Post-Partum Depression and Anxiety, and simply put at the moment of realization of what was happening, I felt low. Simply low and in a fog.
Those fears that had been put to rest crept back up, but this time those fears have been replaced with an identity crisis, a woman who feels her heart and her head are in complete contrast. A woman who is lonely but wants to be alone. A woman who wants to go and live life, but gets anxiety at the thought of seeing people outside her inner circle. A woman who is sick of laundry, but needs routine and order. A woman who likes her hair, but hates her body. A woman who seeks joy, yet feels a haze of sadness stealing the moments she expected. A woman who feels guilty for dealing with this during a time that is supposed to be filled with excitement. A woman whose home and heart look nothing like the graceful images on the computer or in Parents magazine, despite all her hopes and (unrealistic) expectations.
The reality is that my life isn’t so graceful. I am simply trying to keep my girls alive and thriving, while investing in my husband, and admitting to the fact that I need help and a change in perspective to lift this fog. I am taking the steps to get there:
- Spending time talking with my Wonderful Counselor
- Recognizing the need and asking for help
- Communicating with my husband
- Eating good foods (thank you dairy free)
- Getting outside and being active
- Finding order and routine amongst the mess
- And being real with the world
The picture of my life doesn’t meet my expectations right now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I won’t look back and wish for these days again. The beauty of this moment is that while my reality isn’t graceful, my God is abounding with grace. And it is only through the grace He extends me that I can be at peace again. How thankful I am to know His grace never runs out! Jesus Calling tells me He longs to make my life a glorious adventure. This ungraceful reality is all apart of His grand story, and even in the midst of my sorrow-filled fog, I still trust Him.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Isaiah 43:19 (msg)
Open up before God, keep nothing back; he’ll do whatever needs to be done: He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day and stamp you with approval at high noon. Psalm 37:5 (msg)
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:15-17 (NIV)