I love being a mom. These three girls have my whole heart and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But motherhood carries with it an amount of grief that can’t always be explained. Nevertheless, I feel the need to try.
This third time around I knew it was coming and that the monster would rear its ugly head at some point threatening my joy and taking me captive against my will. I knew what to look for, how it would feel, and what to do about it. Yet still the tears chase me down, sleep escapes me, and the air seems thin.
Motherhood is beautiful but it is also painful, frightening, frustrating, exhausting, lonely, and, heavy. Yes, heavy, is the word for the darkness that clouds our heads and the weight that pushes on our chests.
Having a baby is hard. It wreaks havoc on us physically and emotionally.
We know this. Everyone, to some degree, knows this; yet we find it scary to admit the darkness as if by speaking the words it gains new life. Call it postpartum depression. Call it baby blues. Just don’t call it crazy.
Me? I prefer to call it “motherhood unseen.” Irrational fears. Irrational thoughts. Irrational feelings. Emotions that leap out of nowhere baring teeth that cut deep. While they may seem “uncalled for” or “a bit dramatic” they feel very much alive taking up residence inside the “motherhood seen.”
Four months in to baby number three and it marks me physically and emotionally. Some days are hard. Some days are joys. But all days are gifts, absolute gifts. And this is what I know.
I know the “motherhood unseen” is not mine only. It is the unspoken, unshared, unrealized connection between so many of us. We smile and talk of blessings because we are happy and we are truly blessed! But what many don’t show, what isn’t squared for social sharing, is the layers underneath – the ones that don’t garner the sought after responses in hearts, laughs, and likes.
Mamas with little babies, babies who make you cry tears of love and of burden, let the tears fall. And when they do and the feelings are not what you expected and you are left completely unaware of their origin... let them slide free and uninhibited.
I know that “motherhood unseen” is not ours to carry alone. If it finds you, speak it. Ask for help. Openly search for the words to explain. Admit the hard and the scary. It’s okay. It’s normal. Pray it, sing it, praise it, cry it, and turn it over to the Lord.
Because He tells us…
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:19)
He wants us to know Him and the “power of his resurrection” that we “may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Phil. 31:10) Because in becoming like Him we must die to ourselves, our desires, our emotions, and our expectations (yes, even the expectations of motherhood). This is hard stuff but there is strength to be had because the power that raised Christ from the dead is alive and active and flowing free for the taking for those who believe.
And the Almighty, with the power of resurrection in His being, also possess the tender ways of the Shepherd and His word is a balm to a wrecked and desperate soul.
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)
And, from experience, I know that the "motherhood unseen" won’t last forever. I know that the dawn is coming; the morning sun will rise its beams chasing away the darkness. The dust may linger in the air for a while but as sure as the night comes, so comes the day.
So be kind to yourself, mama, but please don’t stop there. Let the Shepherd nestle you in His warmth, carry you on His shoulders, stand at the gate in your defense, take you to trickling streams for your daily bread, and lead you ever so gently.
Mamas, the burden is real but so is our Great God. So know that I am praying with you right now from “motherhood unseen,” from the side after the showers, hospitals, and euphoria, these words…
Oh LORD, lead us gently. Let your tenderness encompass us, let Christ-knowing friends embrace us, let grace-given compassion and peace be our clothing. And in the power of your resurrection, and in the wisdom of your time, bring us back to life, Lord. In you we will find our peace because being a mom is hard, but your grace is greater.
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