Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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When You Need the Grace to Say YOU are a Good Mom

I got all nostalgic yesterday thinking about my first year as a mother. My hubby walked into the room {where he thought I was doing some grad research} and caught me weeping over pictures of baby girl.

This amazing photo provided some comic relief, at least. Hellooooo Big Mama.

eliza prebirth BW

I sat reflecting on the events of this year, and I have to tell you: so many of them didn’t come naturally. Well, what seemed to be everyone else’s natural at least.

I have always wanted a large family, and was so excited to be pregnant for the first time. I never had a pregnancy glow, and I’ll blame that on the 16 weeks I spent losing my lunch in the comfort of my home, in public restrooms, or even the side of the road.

I felt so awkward in the delivery room. And this is embarrassing to admit: when they handed my monster of a baby to me, all I could think was Did I seriously just push that thing out??? I wanted to hold her, but I didn’t care for all the goo covering her entire body. And to be truthful, I had no idea what to do with her.

eliza birth

I knew I needed to nurse, but I was super uncomfortable with everyone in the room watching. I knew I needed some time alone with her, but I didn’t want to rob others from sharing in the joy. And really, I just wanted to rest after the 12 hours of labor.

I struggled through nursing, and felt isolated every time I was holed up in a room allowing another human to suck away whatever supportive tissue I once had in my breasts.

Also, girlfriend basically walked out of my body at birth and she ate like a horse. I nursed and pumped and nursed and drank water and took herbal supplements and ate brewer’s yeast and oatmeal. The milk just wasn’t there.

I read posts by mothers who were buying extra deep-freezers for all their stored up milk and selling the rest on EBAY. And I thought, Guys—formula bottles are so legit!

But I would never say that, because #breastisbest, y’all. I labeled myself a failure in the I-can-sustain-my-child’s-life-with-my-own-body category.

My kid slept in a pack-n-play for the first 8 months of her life. In a bathroom. We lived in a one-bedroom garage apartment and there was just nowhere to put a rocker and a beautiful bed.

One of my favorite parts of the day has always been when the sleep sack is zipped up and the lights go off. Naptime=productivity, and I crave the time to be at work.

I am openly admitting all of these things, and I am openly admitting the guilt that comes along with all of these things.

I expected to become a mother and be immediately changed by it. I mean, I was changed, but it just didn’t feel the way I expected it to. It kind of felt like I had to practice a little bit before I earned my membership into the club. Sometimes it still feels like I’m practicing.

Perhaps becoming a mother is a role you grow into. By all means, as soon as life starts growing in your womb or in your heart, you know the love of a mother! But the act of giving birth somehow did not drastically change me.

The thing that has changed me has been sustaining the life of that birth. The daily responsibilities, the concerns about her health, the communication between her father and I. These things have affirmed the fact that, yes indeed, a little body depends on me.

And what else has changed me? The challenge to stand confident in the decisions of my mothering.

I’ve been accused of damaging my daughter’s psyche for letting her cry it out. I’ve been chided for moving her across the world to a developing country. I’ve been eye-rolled for buying her an amber necklace {well, that one was from my loving husband}.

And the comparisons have led me to use such unhealthy language.

I’m such a bad mom. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said that this year. I’m sure it was at least once a day.

A good mom hangs a Bible verse on her daughter’s bedroom wall telling her she is beautifully and wonderfully made. A good mom nurses for 12+ months. A good mom despises her professional career and soaks up every moment with her kids. A good mom by these standards is so hard for me.

I’ve wasted the first year of my daughter’s life setting unreasonable standards for myself and filling my heart with lies about the definition of a good mother. The world has spoken so loudly that I have forgotten what I know to be true:

A good mother, above all things, fears the Lord.

A good mother takes every opportunity to kiss her baby’s face. And a good mother welcomes the grace of God as she fumbles through the unknown wilderness called parenthood.

We are not the same. You, a mother. Me, a mother. Private and public schools. Organic and fast food. Nursing and bottle feeding.

But we are the same. Because on one glorious day, a big whopping hunk of our hearts was given to a tiny human who calls us Mom. And THAT, my sisters, is something that unites us.

I’m committing today to quit using the phrase I’m such a bad mom. I’m committing today to stop comparing myself to the housewives and supermoms I aspire to be. I am enough, and anything above this is a gracious gift from Above.

So don’t listen to the lies of the Evil one. He speaks really well through your friends’ Facebook posts and Pinterest boards.

Your child doesn’t need Dr. Brown’s bottles, Matilda Jane clothing, or an organic lunchbox to make you a good mother.

Your child needs your presence, your confidence, and most importantly your love of the Savior.

You are enough, my friend, no matter how unnatural you feel or how you measure up.

And one day, with our hands clasped in unity and our hearts overflowing with praise, may our God relieve us from the weight of comparison as we hear His words, Well Done.

View More: http://zipporahkphotography.pass.us/thepinkstons



Tim Sheryl CampbellMay 11, 2014 - 1:38 pm

The picture says it all!! Love you Lauren!!!

Carrie Weaver SulcerMay 11, 2014 - 1:49 pm

L.O.V.E this! Almost 6 years later and I still find myself thinking this way sometimes. Thank you for the beautiful words! Love you!

Karla Kay TranumMay 11, 2014 - 2:05 pm

Thanks for the WORDS OF BLESSING!!!!
That pic is worth more than WORDS

Ashley DeffenbaughMay 11, 2014 - 6:36 pm

This is just beautiful Lauren! Your posts always move me to tears, and this one is no exception!

Cathy Rose SmithMay 11, 2014 - 6:50 pm

You are so right when you say – the evil words from others weigh a good mother down. Gods gifts of children are a beautiful thing especially when raised by Christian parents. Keep smiling :)

Jane MulderMay 12, 2014 - 1:25 am

Great picture! You are so honest and that helps others to know we all fit in, we belong!

Ashley Schmitt-MatzenMay 14, 2014 - 3:04 am

I have not realized the guilt I’ve carried the past two years. The push to be the perfect mom and the disappointment as you fail trying to reach the unreachable. Thanks for the reminder.

Mary Powers DuncanMay 15, 2014 - 9:41 pm

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Carla WallMay 16, 2014 - 12:51 am

My Emma slept in her pack and play for 9 months in the living room of our 1 bedroom apartment as well…The bathroom was even too small:) love this post! Thank you

Lauren Guthrie BarkerMay 24, 2014 - 11:13 pm

All I have to say is YES! All of this was so true!!

Donna HarrisMay 31, 2014 - 3:02 am

You are such an excellent writer! My first thought is that I can’t imagine you ever feeling inferior to anyone for not having it all together, because I would have thought you were the one who was the Super Mom! I shared this post with Kensey because I knew she could relate after just giving birth with all the mixed emotions and hormones raging and things that don’t go perfectly as planned. We think you are awesome :)