I have had so many women contact me with their personal stories of similar situations; undetected ear infections causing developmental delays, a fractured arm that went for a week before seeing the doctor, a baby screaming in pain after eating for months before simply switching to soy formula, other failure to thrive stories. Turns out, just about every mom I talked to had some story, some little failure, that she has been carrying on her back for years.
I find it curious how universal guilt is among mothers. Mom Guilt. It deserves it's own title. As I saw sympathy and understanding written all over my friend's beautiful faces, as they offered up their failures to me as consolation, I could see the fact that these stories still stung for them. These stories still registered in their mind as tiny deficits: the times they let down their children.
The weight we feel as mothers is overwhelming. I have been blessed with many words, but I find my vocabulary wholly insufficient to describe the crushing love and guilt that grows in us with our first child. We know we will never be what we wish we could be for our babies. We will always fall short.
I wonder sometimes if this is what God meant when he cursed Eve (Gen. 3:16). He said "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thy shalt bring forth children" (KJV)
I've always thought this referred to childbirth, but I don't think it ends there. Childbirth hurts. I know, I've experienced a completely natural birth and it can feel like you are being turned inside out. But it's for your baby. It's fulfilling your role as a woman. It brings with it feelings of elation and accomplishment, not failure.
My husband is one of the best dad's I know. He loves our kids and strives to be the father God wants him to be. In the ER with Toby, he wasn't blaming himself. He wasn't choking on guilt and blinded to God's power by our mistake. He just looked forward to a solution. Because he's a man and from my experience, that's just how they function. Mom Guilt though, it is a sorrow that truly does multiply. It doesn't dissolve in the happiness of a resolution. It keeps coming back. And without Christ, it could easily destroy your effectiveness as a parent.
It helps me to understand why I feel things. It has helped me this week to understand that this experience was not uncommon, and that my initial reaction was shared with many mothers.
Most importantly, it helps to know that my babies are ultimately in the hands of God. I will surely fail them, but in taking up God's commission to raise children in His ways, I am arming them with the tools to overcome my failures and have life.
Enough of that. I'm ready for some not-so-heavy blog posts.
I will end this on the lighter side of motherhood with a performance from our Mother's Day church service.
We are in full swing with preperation for Asher's Angry Birds birthday party. More on that later. For now, enjoy the mom rhapsody....