It’s a cold, gray morning and I’ve just put the baby down for his nap. I’m sitting in my favorite chair in the sunroom watching the rain fall and sipping the cup of coffee I’ve been thinking about since I woke up two hours ago. It’s quiet and peaceful, and I think for a moment about opening up my bible and praying. But before I know it, I’ve got my phone in hand as I scroll through my Instagram feed, curious about what I’ve missed since last night. This is the story of so many mornings, and although I hate to admit it, I’ve wasted far too many nap times in the last 7 months.
I am a 25 year-old stay-at-home mom living on a quiet 2 acre lot in the suburbs. Our sweet son arrived less than a year into our marriage and turned our world upside down (as new babies have a way of doing). Most of my close friends are unmarried and without kids, working normal 9-to-5 jobs and going out on the weekends; and although I graduated from college with them just two years ago, I feel more like a decade removed. I can’t remember the last time I went out to dinner with my girlfriends, or spent the afternoon in a cozy coffee shop with a good book. Despite that, however, I am living the life I always wanted as a young wife and mother, blazing a new trail that I am learning to navigate day by day. I chose a clear path right out of college that is transforming my heart as I am constantly refined by love. But, though I love my particular vocation, my life at 25 is not “the norm.”
For me, feeling connected to the “outside world” and staying in the know is important. I want to keep up with my friends who are living entirely different lifestyles than me. I want to be engaged in social discussions and aware of cultural trends and patterns. I want to feel connected to my peers who are living different vocations just as I want to feel connected to my few friends who are also young mothers.
In my experience, social media can often be that bridge. It feels relevant, current, new. It can make me feel less isolated and provides a level of interaction with other people that I can appreciate as someone who is chained to her house most of the day for consistent nap times—which, by the way, often means 5+ hours of alone time each day (a gift and a cross).
Though I was raised Catholic, the Virgin Mary has been a figure I have wrestled with throughout my life. Experiences of hurt and certain secular feminist perspectives caused me to question and even resent who I thought Mary was. Experiences of healing, prayer, and reflection ultimately revealed more about Mary, and led to a deep friendship with her and greater peace within myself.
In order to explain the progression in my relationship with Mary, I need to share a bit of my own story. When I was a sophomore in high school, my mom and dad split up after my dad came forward about being unfaithful. Eventually, my dad moved out of state while I was still in high school and was financially unstable and inconsistent with any kind of support to my mom. My mom was a single parent, breadwinner, sole caretaker for my little sister and I, yet she was also going through her own anguish which I often bore the brunt of. My dad fell from the pedestal I’d placed him on, and my mom simultaneously modeled that she didn’t need a man (or couldn’t rely on one) and yet often shifted the responsibility (unwittingly) onto me to pick up her broken pieces.
Understandably as a result of this, I learned to bottle up my emotions in order to be strong for others. I learned not to trust others to be there for you, especially men, and that women need to be strong for themselves. Both my maternal grandmother, and great grandmother were also single mothers with failed marriages. I come from a line of women who are independent, strong, stubborn, resilient, gritty, and unorthodox. I also learned to downplay my femininity because it seemed to be so associated with a lot of negative stereotypes about women such as being less capable, less intelligent, and weak or easy to manipulate. In my desire to be treated as equal I felt I needed to embody more masculine qualities, and I resented my femininity and seeing others who displayed it.
Yet, deep down, I longed for someone to support me, to be loved by a man in the ways my dad failed to love my mom and me. This longing was often manifested in unhealthy and codependent ways. I longed to not repress my femininity. So when I saw it so openly and freely expressed in others, my resentment was rooted partly in my own longing to be more feminine, partly in feelings of inadequacy – that I would never be feminine enough – that I could never embody all that consists of being the perfect, ideal woman.
It’s that time of year again.
Ladies be lining up like:
Sexy Wonder Woman, Sexy Santa, even Sexy Taco Sauce packets — the options are endless.
Unless of course, you’re too hipster for that.
But even if you generally dress pretty modestly, you can’t deny, there’s something really… powerful about getting dolled up so… sexy.
I donned a T-shirt that said it all as I dragged myself out of my warm, cozy bed and into the gym one recent Monday morning. In big, bold letters it read “THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!” Oh, yeah. Believe me when I tell you, I am one of the LEAST physical people I know and at every turn I will avoid exertion of any kind. Yet, there came a time when my body began to retaliate against this kind of neglect and I could no longer avoid the reality of what my body was saying: “I’m tired, I’m heavy, I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I HURT!”
We have nothing short of a spiritual crisis in womanhood.
I know that I am not the only woman who carries this kind of reality within her body. We struggle with negative self talk and lack of respect for our own bodies. The cultural pressures that impact women’s relationship with her physical self abound. We are inundated with images that exploit, distort, and dismantle the vital and natural life-giving connection that woman was created to have with her own body.
A diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome at the age of 14 inspired one suggestion for treatment: the birth control pill. Unaware of better alternatives, my mom and I agreed to try it, and I walked out of my OB/GYN’s office with a prescription in hand.
What followed were months of suffering side effects: in short, I became a moody monster. Severe irritability, prolonged sadness, and a general mean-ness replaced my typically joyful disposition. School – still one of my favorite things – ceased to excite me and I found less and less enjoyment in spending time with friends.
It eventually occurred to my mom that the Pill might be responsible for these odd changes. She was right – I stopped taking the Pill and returned to my normal self.
It eventually occurred to my mom that the Pill might be responsible for these odd changes
Fast forward to the age of 20, when I decided to pursue treatment for PCOS, again. Before visiting the OB/GYN, I researched on my own. I was hesitant to go on the Pill a second time, but realized that my young age (i.e. being an angsty high schooler) may have exacerbated its effect on me.
Do you know what’s at the root of insecurity?
Fear of not being liked.
Or not being good enough.
Or being too much.
Or not being lovable.
Or being too intimidating.
Or not being able.
Or being alone.
“Fear is the enemy of love” says St. Augustine.
Let that sink in.
Read the original question here.
I totally understand how you feel.
I always saw myself as the “working woman” and figured I’d follow in my mom’s footsteps. She worked full time my whole life, attended all the school things, and was/is a great mother. I never felt as if she didn’t love me or my siblings.
When my first baby came along, I was fresh out of college and I felt my talents and gifts were wasting away. I struggled so much with staying home, yet I felt guilty for feeling that way.