Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Confessions of a not-yet mother

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I hear from my friends who are moms and I read it in the writings of others, how easy it is to slip down this rabbit hole of comparing themselves to other moms and forever coming up short, hitting a dirt wall in that burrow beneath the ground.  They speak, in so many words, of a mother's guilt.  Of this perpetual stretching thin and never having enough to go around, never being enough. 

And I wonder how I, not yet a mother - and we never know these things, maybe never will be - manage somehow to compare the mom I think I might be against the moms that I see around me.  Against the mom I would ache to be.  And feeling just a hair shy of paralyzing anxiety at the thoughts.

In my mind, I already don't measure up.

In my heart, I am terrified of this: failure to love well.

Perhaps because, the older I get, the more aware I am of how much I don't have this thing called life down.  Of how often my love is petty, selfish, small and weak.  Put a child in my womb, drawing its very life from me, and then in my arms, and I'd like nothing more than to believe what I hear - that this fierce maternal love just takes over and I'm forever ruined - but I'm so afraid that I'd be the exception.  That loving would be a daily struggle, a daily defeat, a daily falling down and rising up and pressing forward, time after time after time.

I'm not strong enough, I say.

But I've said that about marriage, too, and here I am in all the glory of my weakness and daily falling down and rising up and pressing forward, still married.  Lord, if I'd known how hard it would be, I might have high-tailed it in the opposite direction in cowardice.  Thank God in his grace, we don't know in advance what will play out in our stories.  It's true that marriage is like holding a magnifying glass up to yourself - your soul, really - and that most often what stares back is not pretty.  How much more is that true being a mother, I ask, and could I bear that marred reflection intensified? 

I know that's fear talking, and I know what to do with that voice, but I have to release this.  Because I don't want to tune into that voice any longer, and yet, it's not easy to silence.

Isn't love - married love and mother love and any kind of true sacrificial love - all about this daily falling down and rising up and pressing forward?  This bloody, skin-kneed love; this wrap someone in your arms especially when you don't feel like it love; this continual choosing someone else over me love.  I don't care what any mother says, this kind of love cannot come natural.  It cannot be instinctual.  It must, even as a mother, be chosen.  It must, also, be received humbly as a gift.

Because the other side of this perpetual stretching thin and never having enough to go around, never being enough, must be where the miracle awaits.  The gift of daily bread, multiplied to be enough.  The gift of daily grace, unwrapped by those poor enough in spirit to recognize they will never measure up - and they needn't even try.  This liberating truth that we - not you or me, not mothers or singles or marrieds without children - are not designed to ever be enough.  Even though we want to be.  It's a built-in grace disguised, a limp that causes us to lean into the only one who can ever be enough. 

And I have to believe that God can work with that, in me - now - and if I'm ever a mother, one day down the road, too.  It is, after all, his specialty.        

Linking up with the brave and beautiful  Emily for Imperfect Prose today, writing about the theme of "mother."


12 comments:

  1. Hi Amber
    I once heard the story that marriage involves three rings: the engagement ring, the marriage ring and then the suffer-ring! I think that parents love their kids as much as each one is able. Some are to broken themselves to love them at all! Glad meeting you at Emily's!
    Much love XX
    Mia

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    1. I think you're right, Mia - each one loves as they are able... and thankfully with the Spirit, we can love beyond what we are able. So glad meeting you, too.

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  2. It's good to hear your perspective on what you observe in the confessions of mothers as one who is waiting her turn. And I think you've hit something here, how we are truly never enough, no matter our circumstance. Because Christ is enough and that's all we need to know. Lovely reflection.

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    1. Yes, Christ being enough, that's such a profound and liberating truth that I pray to live into more deeply. Thanks so much for being here and sharing your thoughts.

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  3. Oh, Amber. Girl, this was good.

    "Because the other side of this perpetual stretching thin and never having enough to go around, never being enough, must be where the miracle awaits. The gift of daily bread, multiplied to be enough. The gift of daily grace, unwrapped by those poor enough in spirit to recognize they will never measure up - and they needn't even try. This liberating truth that we - not you or me, not mothers or singles or marrieds without children - are not designed to ever be enough. Even though we want to be. It's a built-in grace disguised, a limp that causes us to lean into the only one who can ever be enough. "

    This this this.

    You got it.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Brenna - that means a lot to me :-)

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  4. Oh, friend! How I adore your honesty here. Such wisdom. This: "Isn't love - married love and mother love and any kind of true sacrificial love - all about this daily falling down and rising up and pressing forward?...this continual choosing someone else over me love." Yes, friend! Yes. What your mama said is true - it is natural. You want to love these people. You want to continue to love these precious ones you love. And you are right. It is a mirror and a day by day choice. It IS a falling down and a falling in and a thousand graces and a thousand moments you never could have orchestrated. You, my friend, will be a fantastic mother. Your very heart oozes mama already as you move through this world.

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    1. Your words bless me today, friend. I don't feel it, but I receive them. I sure love your heart.

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  5. this is positively ravishing.

    the love that is choice, but is also gift. the empty before the filling. and especially the way this love *ruins* us.

    oh, you had me at that line.

    this just oozes with Hope, pressing firm through all our cracks. *love* it, Amber.

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    1. Kelli, you made me smile. Big time. Thank you, friend. I'm glad this spoke to you.

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  6. Beautifully written. Your honesty is refreshing and I think you will be a wonderful mother. :)

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    1. I'm humbled by your words. Thank you, Anne.

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