Saturday, August 1, 2009

Self-Doubt

I am due to give birth to our third child in just under three months and I find myself wondering whether I can do it. This isn't the typical brand of motherly angst as the family prepares to undergo a drastic transformation. Instead, I just find that my "nesting" looks much different than that of most of the put-together mothers I know. I read countless blog accounts of pregnant ladies who love washing little clothes in Dreft and lovingly stenciling the baby's room. These wonderful mommies diligently clean the premises and even design the birth announcement months in advance.

You know what I do? I feverishly read intellectual type non-fiction books, I consume news articles late into the night, I try to edit together years of home videos on our computer, my husband and I watch classic movies and read reviews of them long past when we should be asleep. These tasks seem to be more a by-product of my angst over the impending loss of sleep and personal freedom that come with the arrival of a breast-feeding newborn, than healthy preparation for a new family addition. Don't get me wrong, we are really excited about our new son. I am taking good care of myself and I love breast-feeding and sling-baby wearing and co-sleeping and all that hippie attachment parenting stuff. Nonetheless, my emotions seem to be a strange blend for a pregnant woman. I am plagued with questions of whether I am right for this God-given vocation of being a stay-at-home mother of a large family, yet I know there is no other path for us. I am excited by our family's expansion, but I am perplexed by my selfish yearnings in these final months of the pregnancy. I question how I should handle these desires - should I really be reading The Arab Mind right now just because I have been meaning to do so for years or should I be boning up on the basics of natural child birth in order to give it another go?

I don't know that I have reached any conclusions, instead I spend much of my prayer time asking the Blessed Mother to prepare my heart and disposition for the arrival of our new son in October. Somehow, I think my family is accustomed to the brand of mother that I am, and I think God is so wise that He will continue sending us babies until I am forced to become better at loving self-sacrifice and prioritizing. In the meantime, I sure am learning alot about current events, and The Arab Mind is illuminating and so insightful.

15 comments:

Mama on a Mission said...

You are so normal in your thinking! I believe any mother with two or more children has had similiar thoughts at least once. I believe it is because after doing it once, we truly know the sacrifice that it takes to bring a new person into this world. Since we are human's with a sinful nature, we are going to go down this path once in awhile. It is not wonderful that the Lord has given us the Sacrament of Marriage with all its graces, his Holy Mother, all the angels and saints to help us overcome any weaknesses or selfishness on our part!

Kristen Laurence said...

You're totally normal! I think the best mothers have such doubts, because they see themselves and their failures clearly in light of what God wants of them. Knowing we fall far short of perfection, but willing to accept what is given us while trusting God, is beautiful humility.

I'd be more worried if you thought yourself a perfect mother who did everything right. :)

This Heavenly Life said...

Ditto above :) I feel this way when I consider our future, and I'm not even pregnant again yet. But knowing the path we're (probably) heading down can be a very heavy thing to put on myself. I just have to believe that I'll learn how to swim once I'm thrown in the water.

And I even think it's *good* for you to be gobbling up some personal time right now. If it makes you happy and is causing no harm, go for it. It may calm you down and give you a mellow mindset going into the birth that will be beneficial for all of you.

Enjoy your final months before meeting your newest blessing! In whatever way you see fit :)

Mary Alice said...

AWOL, I think that most mothers I know (including me) would benefit from more time watching movies with husbands and reading current events and less time stenciling!

I have noticed that for some people the cleaning part of nesting doesn't kick in until the last month, anyway, so you might still have that coming, or perhaps based on your past experiences you know that you don't get the urge to scrub at all.

The truth is, balance and moderation in all things is a good motto. Is your house clean enough to be functional and healthy for your family? Are there a few pretty/personal touches here and there to make you smile? That does the trick!

Stencils on the walls are for us, really, not for baby, and if it makes someone happy to paint them, or to see them everyday in the nursery, that is terrific, but it is A-OK if this is not important to you.

Also -- you may find that at a different stage when you are in more permanent housing you are more interested in nesting. Right now, in a foreign land, with a husband who travels for work, and no grandma nearby for random date nights, it makes sense that you want to use your prego time in other ways!

Thanks for sharing, though, it is important for us all to remember that there are different ways to be a great, holy wife and mother!

Jennifer Frey said...

You have nothing to worry about! Enjoy your time to yourself before you next one arrives--you deserve it! Your children will appreciate having a Mom who has such a loving relationship with her husband and who is smart--both of which are way, way more important than stenciling!!

tomi said...

After I got pregnant with our second, I went on three private retreats before our baby was born! No guilt, and husband-supported. Do it while you can, I say! I found that after baby came, I jumped into the breastfeeding, sling baby wearing role more refreshed and mentally ready than if I had stenciled every room in the house!

You know what brings you diversion and relaxation, so do it while you can! Best wishes!

Catherine said...

I like all the comments here. Be your own kind of mom! It's refreshing to read about other moms embracing who they are, not who they think they should be. Many blessings on your expanding family!

Julia A said...

Gee, sounds normal to me! And FWIW, the time I *really* starting reading again, in depth, for real, in plenty, was after my fourth child. I think there's some sort of efficiency thing that kicks in once you're outnumbered...

Julia

Right Said Red said...

I'm the same, I don't do stenciling and I tend to read a lot of books leading up to all my deliveries (not baby related either).

I think we all need a little time to ourselves prior to giving birth, and since we are all different, each of us will choose a different way to get this alone time and "prepare."

Melanie B said...

Sounds very much like me in my last trimester. I did some nesting/organizing kinds of stuff but I also spent lots of time reading and writing, staying up late to get that done while I had the energy and free hands. Now that baby is here I have to go to bed earlier and don't have as much time for writing. I think after you've had a couple of babies you anticipate the things you know you'll miss when you have your hands full with the newborn and you compensate with a sort of nesting that is right for you. Enjoy the time before the baby gets here and don't feel guilty over your self-doubts. I think it's perfectly natural that you spend time reflecting on your vocation and your family. Everything is about to change completely as you adjust to your new member, you need to prepare for that mentally and I think questioning how you are doing everything from the ground up, testing your foundations, is a good way of preparing for those changes.

Juris Mater said...

AWOL, thanks for being who you are and for reminding us in this fun and honest post that there are many ways to be a loving pregnant mother!!

Joanne said...

Ha, I didn't stencil OR read good books when I was pregnant with my third! I wish I had! I just tried to get more sleep - in fact, when my third was born, they had to take her in the Constant Care Nursery because she had a wee oxygen saturation problem. They took her right from the delivery room, so I never got to hold her or see her again for until she was 24 hours old. It was hard and I was worried, primarily about nursing, but mostly I figured I would just try to get rest while I could. I would have NEVER done that with my first, and maybe not even with my second. You're the kind of Mom that you are with each one, it sounds to me like you are being really smart and like you're planning well! Good for you and God Bless You!

Kat said...

AWOL, I can so totally relate to this discussion, thanks for your honesty and your humor on the subject :) I think that one of the most important things that you mentioned is that you've been spending lots of your prayer time asking Our Blessed Mother to prepare your heart for the arrival of your little guy in October - no amount of prepping can compare to the power of those prayers! We all need some "adult time" to ourselves - it makes us better spouses because we can engage our husbands in conversation, and it makes us better mothers because we are less tempted to feel victimized.

texas mommy said...

Thanks so much for having the courage to share this, AWOL, in a perfectionist culture it is not easy. Rest easy knowing that you are a child of God and indeed living out your vocation.

NoriColeman said...

I still have these feelings after my seventh child. I was so anxious because of past experiences, I cried for about an hour to someone about not wanting to be pregnant. But low and behold the loving mommy feelings kicked in later on. Everyone pitched in with housework etc. and I realized it would still be there if I didn't get to it right away. It is so good to take some time out for yourself try to set a specific time so you can count on it. God is with you and he will ease your burden. Give everything to him.