What flows through your mind when you hear these words?
Expectation. Present. Enough. Comparison.
These powerful words have been spoken, thought, wrestled, processed, written, and shared a million times over since I have become a mother. Seasons change and dynamics shift and a mother is often left wounded in whiplash by the force of this particular inward dialogue. Like a hurricane, emotions flood a mother’s heart in different ways when it comes to expectations of how one should outwardly engage with one’s littles in order to be a good mom. Stirring up the good with the bad, it takes intentionality and mindset in order to fight the right directional force.
So, what happens when all those expectations a mother holds onto is faced with the undesired mothering from a bedside view?
Back in February, I had a car accident that although it kept my car intact and kept me from a hospital stay or worse, it has been a lingering presence in my home ever since. Extreme whiplash and bulging discs has ushered me into a different place as a mother where pain is present and therapy supersedes my desired activity of choice with my children. More days than not, my days have consisted of ice neck pillows, heat wraps and bedrest mothering instead of running the open spaces and indulging in the outdoor exploratory play of summer. I wish that I could attest to the unwavering mental strength that I have harbored throughout this unexpected time, but there were some deep down sad days within these past months that have straight up dropped kicked my attitude at times. I will attest to the empowering word of grace though that redeems the very worst day and brings restorative hope to the story.
Something happens when you are forced into submission from the flow of normalcy to face the unexpected and the unknown: One looks up and their eyes are opened to the others suffering and in pain around them.
To speak more of the positive in this healing journey, those crying spells and self-pity moments have led me to you.
It has led me to pray fervently for the mother who is bound by her bed by chronic pain month after month who cries out in agony questioning how her presence can be received in her home.
It has led me to encourage consistently the mother who feels defined by mental health and rides the waves of debilitation over and again questioning if her mind will ever know settled peace again.
It has led me to journey beside the mother who is so overcome by grief that facing the world feels like the bravest thing she can do questioning if she can ever be engaged in the relationships in her life again.
With every moment I have spent fighting the wrong part of the battle, it has led me to the connection of those powerful words previously mentioned that I want to share with you. I asked you the question of how four words filled your mind and I want to voice how the entrenched days of getting to this place of affirmation taught me to voice just this:
Expect to be present in the enough spaces as you resist comparison and you fight well in the battle that you are called to.
As I was focusing on all the places that wwerevoid in this season and on all the places that I “could not,” I began to start affirming my mindset every morning:
Focus on the places that I can and do not be afraid of the places that I cannot.
A place that taught my spirit to embrace the fight and learn how to mother from these entrenched places was when my daughter simply stated, “Mom, I just love being able to cuddle with you while you are healing.” And in that moment, that word expectation circled back around yet this time in a strengthening way.
As you struggle with expectation in your story of not being enough and comparing yourself in this season to who you were in a more thriving season, I ask you to fight well by releasing your guilt and to reaffirm your position:
Set your room and your healing space as one that ushers you into calm: Light candles with scents that you love, keep fresh flowers, diffuse oils, put up encouraging pictures and quotes around you.
Instead of saying I am not enough because I am too overcome by emotion to be engaged today, say TODAY is a day where I teach my child about compassion and I just choose stillness with them.
Expect rise and falls and know that the journey of those places are not destroying your children, but rather gifting them with a deep well of empathy and presence that they will carry on in loving others in hard places.
- Let it be PJ movie/ book reading snuggle day with Mommy and make a “slumber party” feel about it.
Instead of saying all the other moms are out there “doing all the things”, say TODAY is a day where my kids get to choose creativity and teach me how to mother from a bedside view.
I promise you that your children’s view of enough does not consist of your Pinterest level view. Ask them to think of ways you can do activities in the bed while “mommy is healing” and it will amaze you the simple yet engaging things they will share with you.
- My kids came up with things like paint nails, write stories, watch funny home videos, facetime a friend to make them smile, board games, and cards. Allow the simplistic nature of it speak volumes of presence with your littles and I promise that you will not feel the voids as strongly.
What story are you writing within your hard? Allow the moments to be teaching ground.
What can you say to affirm your mental strength in this place? Do not let guilt become you for you are a warrior.