It feels ridiculous to be writing some of these blog posts at 33 years of age. The topics I am processing through have impacted my life in monumental ways, and yet as I type the words, I can’t help but think “Well, of course that is wrong!” Cutting ties with the words and ideas is one thing…identifying how deeply raveled these views are in my life is something completely different.
Lately, I’ve had some health issues, and these personal issues have really forced me to be aware of the ability to have children. I’m 33, enjoying life right now, but mindful that I would like to have children eventually.
Last night, I broke down. I have had some new symptoms, signaling my present issues may be a longer-term issue, which could drastically effect our future plans for a family of our own in the near future. As I laid my head in my hands and sobbed with my husband last night, these words left my mouth:
“I don’t even know why you would stay married to me if this is a problem forever. It’s possible that I can’t do the one thing I’m supposed to do.”
Honestly, the words felt wrong as soon as they left my mouth. My husband was calm and encouraging, calling out my thinking and reassuring me. But in this deep emotional moment, everything laid bare, these words revealed everything about my deepest fears and emotions.
I grew up in the 90’s and 00’s, in a very conservative Christian church. As a young girl, there were so many messages given.
Preparing yourself for marriage
Preparing yourself to be a mother
Perhaps time has changed in some ways, but my experience was deep and impactful on my upbringing. I clearly came out of adolescence focused on being an amazing wife and having an amazing family.
That’s how you “arrive”.
That’s how you have Value.
That’s a “life of sacrifice worth living”.
Books were written on preparing for marriage and a family. Blogs were pushed on how to follow mothers who “had it together”. Social media became the way spiritual women showed how wonderful their families were, and how joyous (yet exhausted) they were. The messaging was clear.
We have already bucked the system, and we have definitely received pushback. We have been married for 8 years and haven’t pushed for kids yet. We have focused on our careers, our short and long-term goals, our growth, and learning to live in the moment. However, we have always known we would have a family some day. People told us we hadn’t “arrived” yet, we were “unrealistic” about getting our finances in order, “going though a phase” or “being selfish”. I’ve learned to let these things go, but it took awhile.
But the idea that I could honestly believe that my value to my husband and myself was based upon having children revealed a huge theological flaw for me.
These emotions of worry and fear are normal.
The pain is real.
But the belief that I am minimized to my ability to “put myself second” to become a mother is not something I want to subscribe to, but find everywhere I look.
The real problem is this:
I grew up minimizing all of my other wonderful qualities, feeling like everything about me was ultimately useless unless I had children. Feeling I was selfish if I didn’t become a mother. Thinking that a life is only worth living if a can be in a supportive role in a family.
I still would like those things. The idea that my body may not allow that right now is deeply difficult for me. But I want to enter into having a family believing that who I am is a gift.
I long to root my identity in more than my ability to handle laundry or post a great Instagram pic of how clean my house is, how cute my children look, or how wonderful my dinner turned out. (I love to cook and I will never understand that trend.)
Back then, I thought I knew that motherhood was my sole value. Now, I know that motherhood won’t make me valuable, but who I am apart from it will (hopefully someday) make motherhood special.