February 2, 2011
Submitted by guest writer, Natasha

I am a stay at home mom of five boys. I have been married, to the same man, for almost twelve years. I have ADD. I am an introvert. My husband also has ADD as does one of our lovely boys. Our home is not as chaotic as some; about what you would expect with five boys under the age of 12, with some added unique challenges, shall we say?!

Motherhood was always the desire of my heart. There are plenty of subjects, professions,trades I find fascinating. Some of them I also happen to be very good at. I never wanted any of them as a career. Always wanted to be a mom, shuttling kids around, buying groceries, cooking meals, making a home for my very own family.

Motherhood, it turned out, was not something that settled on me easily, effortlessly, seamlessly. I struggled horribly with post-partum depression, suffered crippling anxiety, guilt, resentment. Many unflattering and un-maternal emotions. My marriage was turbulent, my heart filled with unresolved issues of anger, self loathing, and an almost complete lack of self confidence.

I was blessed to be a part of a vibrant faith community and was surrounded by many young mothers in the same boat as myself. I found the courage within me, fueled by desperation and my as yet un-diagnosed ADD impulsivity to reach out to all the women I knew who were young mothers or who had already passed through those years and seemed to me to have it "all together". I was very surprised by what I discovered. Turned out that all those women I was watching on Sunday in the pews, or in the midst of play date get-togethers who seemed so calm, serene, collected, in love with motherhood, were all struggling much the same as me. Not all of their stories had the same details, obviously; we are all unique and have our own personal struggles. It wasn't the details so much as the presence of struggle, issues, anxieties, uncertainties that edified me! Yes, edified. I began to delve into this arena of exploration. I quickly realized that what the women I was encountering needed most was affirmation, validation, acceptance and unconditional love. We were all trying to "get it right" and feeling like we just couldn't live up to the task, that we were lacking in so many ways as to be nearly unfit to live out our vocations. This, of course, always came as a surprise to me. I always took great pains to point out to them all the wonderful things I saw in them, all the ways that they inspired me, encouraged me and enriched the lives of everyone they knew. I was rather bold and laid out for them all my own "dirty laundry". I hid nothing from them. Yes, my toilet bowl is sometimes ringed with orange scum because I am too exhausted from late night feedings to even THINK about how gross that is. Yes, I sometimes spend entire days avoiding my children like the plague, placating them with junk food or television, or BOTH for the sake of some much needed quiet time. Yes, I too forget or neglect my personal prayer time for weeks on end because it feels like one more demand upon my being, because I am depleted and have nothing left to give, or am just too darn lazy to get off my keister and Just Do It. Yes, I too am less than gracious and loving with my husband, not giving a fig about how tired he is after a long and demanding day at work and am only interested in the relief he can bring to my day.

None of this is pretty. None of it beautiful. But something beautiful began to come of it. The women in my life began to open up more and more. We began to "boast" about our weaknesses, in manner of St. Paul, Shocking Holy Saint and all round Humble Man. We began to lower our expectations of ourselves and increase our expectations of God's graces.

My life, slowly at first, took on a completely different shape. My ADD was diagnosed and with it came great relief that I was neither lazy, stupid, or crazy. I realized that I was, and am, a very introverted person who needs chunks of time to myself, to live inside my own head in order to give of myself to others. I realized that God was indeed okay with me, that He loved me "just as I am" and was ready and waiting to pour out His love and blessings and graces into my heart.

I stopped expecting the unattainable from myself, my children, my husband and everyone in general! I opened my self more and more to God and began to see the Beauty of who I am, my uniqueness, my capacity to love and be loved. I began to detach from myself and saw my family transform into the family that had filled my childhood fantasies. Only better!

My greatest desire, to be a wife and mother, began to grow in my heart. I began to really embrace and live out my vocation. I read stories of heroic women, living out these same vocations in a manner that inspires me daily to strive more and more for Perfection. This perfection is not a human or worldly perfection. God's perfection looks to us like failure. His ways are not our ways. The ways of weakness, smallness. Ways that do not bring validation, success, recognition. Certainly not ways that will have my family on the cover of Parent Magazine, or my house featured in House Beautiful anytime soon!

I struggled for many years, and in some small ways continue to do so, with how my life must be perceived by The World. A woman, who is, as I type this, wearing her pajama bottoms, her hair unwashed, her face unmade, her kids still in their pajamas even though it is well past morning and hardly a bit of housework "done". By way of contrast, my husband awoke at 4am in order to do work, will not get home until late and will in all likelihood not get much sleep tonight, either.

Once upon a time, the above mentioned would have caused me to tailspin into a diatribe of self-incrimination that would surely end with me being vile towards any and all who encountered me. Wasn't my purpose one of Production? Does not my self-worth come from my bottom line (both literally and figuratively!)? There was a time when I thought so. No longer is this the case. The week that lies ahead of me is a full and demanding one. I could definitely push myself to accomplish much today, but I know that come the week's end, I would be a person who would not bring joy, peace, or harmony to anyones life. I would be miserable, depleted, resentful and selfish.

The Lord has shown me, through the wisdom of His saints, His Blessed Mother, and the precious friendships of my dear sisters in Christ, that my vocation is one of Peace, Beauty, Detachment and a trust in Divine Providence, of pondering upon God's Word, upon His Holy Face. I am to live the beatitudes to my utmost every day. Today, that means that I am reading the posts here on this blog, filling my soul with good food. It means I am listening to gentle music, reading a good book, resting and trying to turn my mind towards God.

The balance between Martha and Mary can be tricky, but I have discovered that dependence on the graces that are given for THIS day never leads me astray. While I must always be aware of the bigger picture, of the outside world's demands and expectations on me, my duty is the one of this moment. Above all, I must be vigilant in living this hidden life truthfully and unreservedly. The world does not hold my life up as a model of greatness. I am derided and looked down upon for what I do not do (produce taxable income, achieve greatness in the workplace, etc.). I have learned to accept this, to even be happy that this is so. It hasn't come easily and I didn't always embrace it. My particular journey thus far has shown me that one of my greatest feminine gifts, the gift of intimacy, not only enabled me to live my vocation authentically but it also did the same for the women in my life. Having the courage to open up about my uncertainties, to seek out the love and support of my sisters not only fed me, but them as well. Which in turn has fed the heart and souls of many, many families.

As women, we have a tendency to compare ourselves with others. " Her hair is always so great, so neat and smooth. Mine looks like a rats nest!" "Her house is so SPOTLESS all the time, how does she do it?"; "Her kids are so well behaved, how come mine are minions of chaos?"; "They are so loving with each other, how come my husband and I snip so much?"; "She is always so happy, no matter a newborn or a total kitchen renovation. How come I'm always a grump?". If we can remember and learn detachment from self, embrace humility, and remember that we, in all our imperfections, are a gift waiting to be unwrapped for all of those God puts in our path, we can become a source of inspiration, edification, and affirmation, a spot of beauty in the lives of others. Not to mention, find contentment and peace with ourselves, just as we are ( not with " slightly smaller noses and slightly larger breasts...." -- Bridget Jones's Diary !).


"Keep Calm and Carry On"


Photo by Natasha

1 comment:

  1. Breathtaking, Tash! Thank you for being so candid! I especially was moved by the words, 'We began to lower our expectations of ourselves and increase our expectations of God's graces.' What a powerful and faith-filled line this is. Your words shine an amazing light on the lies that we women get bogged down with. Too often we believe that we're the only ones who don't have it together. It is when we 'boast of our weaknesses', as you did in this post, that we offer the invitation for others to also drop down the masks and show who we really are. We women deal with so many things in a given day and somehow knowing we're all in it together brings me so much comfort...

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What is a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? There is softness and hardness, compassion and ferocity. There is contentment and adventure, freedom and service. We're conundrums, especially to ourselves, but we all, in some way, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. Here we aim to show every woman the richness and beauty of her own femininity and explore current issues relating to women in our world. We also wish to share our own experiences - exploring the joys and challenges of stay-at-home moms and single professionals and everyone in between. Welcome! So glad you're here!

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