I was one of those women who silently judged moms in grocery stores.
I would walk through the store with my cart and hear a child a few aisles over throwing a fit over something. And I vowed to myself that I would never have children like that. “Get your act together, Mom over there. What even is your deal,” said me, the woman without children who only had herself to worry about.
I was also one of those women who looked at big families and though to myself, “DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENS.” Yeah. I thought that in my head.
I was a naive girl back before marriage, children, and parenting.
Skip a few days from then to now, and I giggle at the thoughts that used to go through my head.
I am the mom with the kid who throws a fit because I can’t buy the freaking crackers with Captain America on them. I am the mom with three kids AND a pregnant belly. Younger me would be so appalled. (Not that I care.)
I like to speak candidly about motherhood because I think we don’t speak so candidly to ourselves. I’m often speaking to myself in my own head as if I’m the only who struggles, and look over there at that mom with her perfect children! You’re sucking today, Janelle! I am not so kind to myself.
I wanted to speak candidly to me and to you. Because I am quickly becoming the mom I made fun of in my head, and I want to be sure I’m setting the stage for the girls coming up behind me and doing proud the women who have made way before me.
When I found out I was pregnant for the fifth time, I was truly overjoyed. I sat on the toilet for about five minutes smiling my face off.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later when we started to share the news with people we loved that I got insecure. And dang it, I hate insecurity. It’s such a rude, unwelcome feeling. But it’s part of being human, and it’s been hitting me in waves.
I was picking up balloons at the store for our pregnancy photo, and the lady filling the balloons asked me what they were for.
“We’re doing a pregnancy announcement.”
“Oh, that’s so wonderful! Is this your first?”
“Nope! It’s not…”
“How many do you have?”
“Three boys. So this is our fourth.”
Pause. She looked at me, surprised.
It wasn’t dramatic. She was so kind, and we talked for a long time about life and kids before I left. But I wonder sometimes what people think of us. Of me. If they look at my kids and think, “Girlfriend, someone needs to get fixed so you stop procreating.” (For the record, my kids are adorable, so I don’t know how anyone could look at them and think that.) I know that most people don’t think those things. But I irritatingly think that they do. I’m pretty sure you can consider it the downfall of being a woman: creating fake scenarios in your head.
I’m also not afraid to admit that I am all for faking it until you make it. I apply it to the fact that my hair is greasy and gross, but you know what? I can still rock nasty hair. It’s all about what’s going on in my own head.
This applies to my mothering. I don’t know what I’m doing. THERE! The secret is out. But I know I’m still good. I’m still worthy in the eyes of the Lord, and no opinion except God’s matters to me. He already tells me He loves me, He makes me whole, that my purpose is found in Him.
And I look at the photo we took of my three boys and that empty little chair, and I think, “Lord You have a mighty work to do.” And I trust Him to do it. I am fully aware that this looks crazy, that I’m going to struggle, and that I might not figure out motherhood from now until that baby arrives.
But it’s good. I’m good.
Virtual hugs all around, okay? Your kid will throw fits. Someone will look at you like you are legitimately a crazy person. And someone will think about how they might not want what you have. So what? God gave you these things. God gave me my people. I’m gonna steward them well.