Learning to Love ME
There are 100 things I’d rather do than hold a baby. Catch a rooster. Ride a horse. Fly fish. Camp. Have a philosophical conversation. Discover a new Excel formula. Drink a beer. Dance. Listen to accounting podcasts. Eat sushi. Hike a mountain. Reconcile bank accounts. Jump in a lake.
This is a concept I have struggled with for years. I became a Christian in college. Having grown up in a non-traditional home, I wanted to push against the ideas of feminism my mother held.
To me being a ‘good Christian’ woman meant that I was to love babies. Be a nurturer, a quiet servant, a wife and a mom.
Forcing myself into situations with children, I prayed I could change this piece of who I was. I volunteered in the newborn room at church, surrounded solely by gentle women.
Travelling overseas, I would raise my hand first to sit with a baby. I wanted to transform this side of myself, afraid I would be found out by the Christian community I so desired to fit into.
But the more I forced it upon myself, the more I came to realize,
Holding babies did not make me woman. Did not make me a follower of Jesus.
I delighted in sitting with that 90-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s. Holding her tissue paper hands, wiping the droll from her lips, being still with her for hours. The end of life being no less holy than the beginning.
So why do I feel as if I’m still not enough, that in order to be truly woman I must ogle over every baby I see? Even my first two babies brought anxiety. With the loss of our first, I was terrified of anything bad happening to my newborns. I held them at arms-length, often allowing my anxiety to overtake my joy.
It wasn’t until they were sitting up, laughing at me, that I was able to take a breath. Even here I feel I must insert the disclaimer; of course, I LOVED my babies, having that nurse place my newborns on my chest for the first time are moments I hold most dear.
But I also feel that as women we have specific expectations placed upon us.
Often childless women are questioned while their male counterparts are living successful lives.
When my husband would take our newborns out, strapped to his chest, frequently people would complement his fatherhood. I never received the same acknowledgment.
So here I am, a mother of two, releasing myself from the expectations placed upon me.
I am woman. I am mom. I am enough. This, my inner secret I release.