Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Excruciating Motherhood

Motherhood = Pain

That is not a complaint. It is a statement of fact. Love is painful because it is sacrificial. Just because something is painful, doesn't mean that it isn't also beautiful.

I've been pondering the pain of parenthood lately because I want so much to do right in the lives of my sons, but I know that I often make mistakes. There will be something that I do or say that will "scar them for life" because every child carries some scars into adulthood.

There is also a lot of pressure on parents, and the pressure grows into guilt on every single level. Every decision you make as a parent is closely scrutinized by others. No matter what you decide, there will be a group who thinks your decision is wrong. Not just the "big" issues, like discipline or education, but even the minute decisions, like the first taste of solids your baby takes (oh, yes, you think I exaggerate, but I promise you there are people who feel STRONGLY about that!). Breast or bottle? There are haters on both sides. To vaccinate or not? Haters. Tummy sleep or back to sleep? (There will be a law against sleeping your baby on its tummy before too long. Mark my words.) Is it okay to feed my child chicken nuggets? Am I a bad parent because I give tylenol to my child when he has a fever? Am I a bad parent if I don't? No matter what you choose, you will be judged by someone out there as ill-equipped to be a parent.

Not that anyone is fully equipped to be a wonderful parent... you aren't "born to be a good parent." Good parents are made. You learn by trial and error! Whew! That's not scary!

Mistakes in parenting are painful. The guilt associated with parenting decisions is painful. I have noticed (my husband says it's not the same for him, though, so maybe it's a motherly thing, or maybe I'm just weird) a phantom pain when my child is or appears to be in physical danger. Has anyone experienced this phenomenon but me? For example, if he is running and I can see that he is going to fall and scrape his knee, as he is falling, I feel pain in my joints (specifically, in my hip joints, oddly enough). It's almost as if time stops briefly, allowing me to feel his pain before he does. Sometimes, he falls and I've predicted his pain. Other times, he doesn't fall after all, and I feel sheepishly overprotective because of the sharp gasp I've involuntarily made.

Then - oh, then! - there is the emotional pain of watching these beautiful creatures grow and change and experience pain for themselves! I've not yet fully realized this heartache, but I've tasted it and even the small drops I've experienced thus far have sent me to my knees, thanking God for allowing His Son to die on the cross for my sins... for choosing the full extent of the pain of parenthood for my sake.

Yes, motherhood is excruciating, and I am convinced that the only way to make it through is on my knees!

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