Friday, July 18, 2014
The Thing To Know When You Think You're The Only One
"I know it's probably selfish and shallow and everything, but sometimes...sometimes I miss it."
Oh, how I love my weekly girls night. Those moments after babies are tucked into bed and husbands left with a kiss and a promise we'll return (albeit very late), when we slip out the door and take a few moments midweek to reconnect and revive ourselves. The very best part is the space to speak honestly, openly - and sometimes, brokenly. So when she admits it out loud, that those days before children when every day was an adventure and some days, some days she finds herself missing that carefree life, the rest of us are right there with her.
Because we all know she's not the only one. Sometimes looking out at the lives of other mothers, it can seem like, because they are keeping their noses to the grindstone and hunkering down to the work that is their lives, caring for their families - that they never wanted anything else. Never miss that feeling of being young and beautiful and free. Never wonder what life would look like if things had shaken out differently. We feel guilty for admitting it, so usually we don't. It's only in those close relationships that we can whisper secret truths to each other and know we'll be held in understanding.
I find writing about motherhood to be difficult sometimes. On the one hand, I hold negativity at an arm's length because I find it to be so destructive in my own life. On the other, perfectly posed photographs and paragraphs full of nothing but the sweet stuff of life can sometimes make you feel a little sick. It can be every bit as damaging to portray motherhood as just one big Hallmark Moment - and leave out the doubts, sacrifices and dark moments that come along with. Because we all have them, even those of us who seem the very least likely.
The thing to know when you think you're the only one is that very thought is a lie, a trap meant to pin you down in guilt and keep you from living free. Admitting that sometimes life is hard and sometimes we find ourselves looking backward isn't an admission that we don't love our babies or aren't thankful that they are here. It's the admission that life isn't heaven, and even blessings here on earth come hand in hand with trials, beauty with pain, love with sacrifice.
It's been eleven years since I brought that first baby home, and with each passing year, my view of the women in my life who have answered the call to motherhood becomes a bit softer. My lofty judgments and strident opinions falling away as I see them all clearer - just people, after all. People who get up each day and love and work and strive to set themselves aside a little more than the day before. That inside every woman is that girl who loves beauty and adventure and freedom. Nurturing and self sacrifice requires daily practice and we're all just doing the best we can.
The thing is, making motherhood out to be nothing more than sugary sweetness misses the depth of what it truly means to give your life to another. Admitting it's hard doesn't mean you love your children any less - it means you love them enough to choose them anyway. It's when we take a balanced look of what it takes to be a Mom that we see how we're all held in tension - the tension of working out our humanity every day and choosing something more. The thing to know when you think you're the only one? Is that you're not alone.
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