The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood224
The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood224
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|Publisher:||Barbour Publishing, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
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The Super Mom Myth
Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood
By Becky Kopitzke
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Becky Kopitzke
All rights reserved.
WHO ARE THESE LITTLE PEOPLE (AND HOW DO I SEND THEM BACK)?
Giving birth is little more than a set of muscular contractions granting passage of a child. Then the mother is born.
Remember your first baby shower? Mine was quite an auspicious event. More than fifty women gathered in our church youth hall to usher me into the ranks of motherhood. Fellow newer-married and childless friends cheered me on in solidarity, relishing baby hopes of their own. I'm convinced now that the older women weren't really smiling so much as smirking.
Oh, that poor dear. She has no freaking clue what's coming.
Why didn't they speak up?!
I know why. It's the same paralysis of opinion that seizes me now whenever I see a friend's swelling belly and feel compelled to ooh and aah over the miracle of it all — those tiny fingernails and eyebrows and ear drums, actual working heart valves and kneecaps and kidneys and colons that are this very moment being formed inside a beautiful miniature human, which only a God of wonder could sculpt in such intricate detail. Babies are amazing. They're heavenly art.
So we tend to focus on the beauty and blessings of a dearly anticipated child, rather than the difficulties to come. After all, blessings make better memories. And pregnancy — first pregnancies in particular — may be one of the most sacred times in a woman's life. Why burst her bubble?
Thus I entered motherhood, wide-eyed as a calf to the veal factory. At my baby shower, like so many others, I indulged in doting attention from well-meaning ladies. I let them press their palms on my basketball girth. I grinned silly for their cameras. I licked pink frosting and cranberry punch from my bloated prego lips. Then I returned home in a Chevy SUV packed to the ceiling with loot — fleece sleepers, burp rags, bouncy seats, and bum cream.
I stocked duplicates of every supply necessary to care for a child. But I had no idea what it would require of me to raise one.
CHILDBIRTH IS JUST THE WARM-UP
Have you ever wondered why pregnant women spend so much time and energy preparing for labor? From the moment a pee stick confirms fertile seed, we become consumed with the best way to grow and deliver a baby.
We devour childbirth blogs, magazines, and the latest edition of What to Expect When You're Expecting. We research obstetricians, midwives, and doulas within a fifty-mile radius. We drag our husbands to awkward classes on Lamaze and water birth and the Bradley method — and he actually pays attention. As though the process of squeezing a child out of our hoo-haa is the Mount Everest of motherhood.
"Have you been practicing your breathing?" My husband peered over his book one night and pointed this question to me, the swollen heifer on the couch.
"Yes. Sort of." I shrugged.
"You should practice. They said breathing really helps."
"Yes." My mouth spread to a grin. "And so does having a husband who knows how to fetch ice chips and Popsicles." Like I had any appetite for Popsicles when the hour finally came. Phfft.
"You put the tennis balls in the suitcase, right?"
"I did. And the gum, and the magazines, and the lip balm."
"And the yoga CD?" The one prop we actually used.
"Yes. I think we're good to go."
My husband set his book in his lap and grabbed my fingers. "You're going to do great."
And I did — in childbirth. I was an outright champ. But if you're a mom, then you know labor and delivery are not the mountaintop challenges of parenting. That part is more like a sled hill, or an inclined driveway. Because in return for one or two days of pain and prodding, we earn an eighteen-year birthing process of another kind — our own.
And I don't know of a single class in the world that can prepare women for that.
DEAR LORD, WHY ARE HER EYES STILL OPEN?
In the hospital, I had no clue how much work the nurses did for me. Every so often they wheeled in a round-face newborn girl, bathed and swaddled, and all I had to do was feed her and stare — at her wispy orange hair poking out from a pink hand-knit cap, at her smooth button nose that so resembled mine. I fell instantly in love with this seven-pound creature, this stranger, the desire of my heart.
So after forty-eight hours as VIP guests in the third-floor birthing suite, my husband and I were eager to get home and do this parenting thang. How hard could it be? We'd both changed a diaper in the hospital — check. Our daughter had no trouble latching to my suddenly elastic teats — check. And based on our first two days of experience, our precious babe slept a good four hours at a stretch, so I looked forward to designing cutesy birth announcements between my own indulgent naps. Because, of course, naps were totally on my agenda — check.
On a sleeting early March afternoon, we lifted our daughter's Winnie the Pooh car seat carrier through the front door of our quiet three-bedroom ranch home — her home — and welcomed this child into our real, forever life.
And that's when she started wailing.
"What do you think she wants?" I shot a nervous glance at my husband and lifted our daughter from her carrier, watching her tongue vibrate inside a cavernous mouth. Think, think, I pep-talked to myself. The big three — diaper, hunger, gas. Or was it four? Oh, yes, sleepy. Maybe she's sleepy.
"Let's put her in the bassinet." My husband shifted immediately into male fix-it mode, God bless him. We shushed and snuggled our baby and tucked her in tight to the hand-me-down white lace bassinet that was to be her happy place for the next three months. Or so we thought.
What was I saying about us being overachieving planners? Heh, heh.
"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" (Proverbs 19:21).
For the next three or four (Or was it ten? Twenty?) weeks, our daughter refused to sleep in her bassinet. Or her crib. Or anyplace that was not Mommy or Daddy's arms. Suddenly this child who was so compliant for the nurses had decided sleep was an unnecessary detail, not only for herself but, consequently, for her desperate parents, too. Each time we attempted ever so carefully to lay her down and tiptoe away, within twenty minutes her eyelids would pop open and she'd start chirping, then crying, then screaming like a mini fire engine. For weeks on end. Did I mention that?
We tried everything — heartbeat sound effects, swaddling, warming the bassinet mattress with a heating pad. None of it worked. The only way my husband and I managed to catch any rest at all in those first days was by taking turns — one of us flopping on the king-size bed alone while the other reclined in a living room chair, sentenced to midnight channel surfing while our baby snuggled in the crook of a cozy, grown-up elbow.
Three days into this shocking routine, we took our daughter to her first doctor's appointment. "Please," I pleaded with the pediatrician, "you have to help us. She doesn't sleep! We haven't slept. What's wrong with this child? I didn't sign up for this!"
A slow, knowing grin cracked his face. "Every baby is different. Some sleep better than others." He shrugged. "Welcome to parenting!"
What? I think I actually felt the sucker punch hit my gut. That's it? No remedy, no explanation, no compassion for a panicked, crazy woman? He might as well have said, "Well, Mrs. Kopitzke, I'm terribly sorry you've been dealt a vampire child, but hey, suck it up and I'll see you next month for shots!"
That was the first moment I formulated the thought that would plague me often over the coming years.
What did I get myself into?
GOOD-BYE, HUSBAND — ENJOY YOUR NORMAL LIFE AT THE OFFICE
In addition to the inhuman exhaustion, those inaugural months of motherhood presented a series of further twists in our Perfect Parenting Plan. From jaundice to a pitiful milk supply to hormones rushing like white-water rapids, I sank deep into a river of disappointment and tears — mine, not the baby's.
Daily I would stand at the living room window with a pink bundle snuggled in my arms, salt water burning my eyes, and I'd lift a weak hand to wave. My husband waved back from the driveway, escaping to another day at work, another familiar routine involving hot coffee and adult conversation and an hour-long lunch break in which he was not tied to any living thing.
During one of those lunch hours, while on a diaper run to Target, my husband bumped into a dear friend of mine.
"How is Becky doing?" she asked.
Knowing the level and authenticity of kinship I shared with this woman, my husband let loose the truth. Darn, he probably needed somebody to talk to as much as I did, somebody to help him make sense of his weepy, neurotic wife. "Not so great," he said, and the two of them stood near the checkout sharing a heart-to-heart.
When he came home that evening and told me about his conversation with my friend, my spirits tanked. Not because my husband had revealed the ugly truth about our household, but because really? People I love are still out there just wandering the department store, enjoying normal life?
How can this be?
The world was spinning on without me.
And I had never felt so lonely.
WE ARE NOT ALONE
A year later, God brought me a phone call from this same friend as she sat at home with a three-week-old firstborn of her own.
"How are you doing?" I posed the question gently.
"Fine." The word shook from her mouth.
"No, really. How are you doing?"
Instantly her voice broke. She wept. I listened. I encouraged.
"You are not alone." I wanted to reach through the phone and bear hug her. "I know you feel isolated and sad, but that is normal and it will pass. I promise you, it will pass."
"Where is the joy?" This plea, the same desperate question I begged from God in my early months, swung toward me like a boomerang. "I thought there was supposed to be so much joy."
My heart ached for my friend, for me, for all the moms who were bamboozled into believing motherhood should be an emotional high. What if it's not? Does that mean there's something wrong with us?
"The joy is hidden," I told her, "but you will find it. I went through the very same thing."
"I know." She sniffled. "I remember. You were honest about what it was like for you, so I felt like I could talk to you about it."
And that's when God first planted this seed in my heart. Honesty is a ministry. I grew determined not to let another fellow mother within my influence believe she is alone or failing.
DON'T LIE TO ME
Not all mothers struggle alike. For me, the newborn season was shockingly hard. Others would gladly trade the toddler or teen years for another shot at those itty bitties.
If your baby hardly cried or snoozed through the night the first week home, or if you have no problem spinning cartwheels on two hours of sleep and every moment of caring for your children is filled with pure joy, then count your blessings and praise the Lord. Sincerely.
If your toddler never bucks your authority or spits out peas, never fights nap time or runs away from you in the Walmart parking lot, great. Consider yourself special.
If your school kids never test your patience, never talk back or beg for candy bars, super. If you enjoy the stomach flu and relish every page of homework stashed in the backpack to complete and sign, terrific!
And if eye-rolling attitudes, teen drama, and all the "Whatever, Mom" comments cast in your general direction do not faze you a bit, then rejoice! You are a rare mother indeed.
Because I am convinced such women are the minority. There are a lot more of us frazzled and frustrated moms of newborns, toddlers, first graders, and freshmen who do not have it all together and, sadly, assume everybody else does because women are not talking about it.
It's time we start being real with one another. Amen?
If you are ashamed of your struggles, look up. If you are unaware of your struggles or in denial that this book might apply to you, open your eyes. Throughout these pages I'm going to challenge you to consider, how are you doing in this area? Tell me anything good, bad, or ugly. But please, please, please — don't lie to me.
We're in this fight together.
Honesty binds us mom to mom, and it invites God to work from the inside out.
"You deserve honesty from the heart; yes, utter sincerity and truthfulness. Oh, give me this wisdom" (Psalm 51:6 TLB).
REDISCOVER THE JOY
So what happened between my husband's Target encounter and the pivotal phone call from my friend one year later? How did I regain perspective, sanity, and zeal for my role as a mom?
God showed up.
He walked with me through the fog until the clouds lifted and I saw Him showering blessings like none I'd experienced before. Motherhood is hard, no doubt. God still walks with me through the daily crud; He always will. But I'm convinced this parenting journey is also God's greatest tool for chiseling a raw and treasured woman into the masterpiece He sees within.
As my daughter grew, so did I. New challenges popped up every day, and I was constantly forced to a standoff with my own shortcomings. Children are demanding; moms are selfish. Children generate messes; moms hate to clean. Children get sick; I personally fear catching their germs. Children hamper our social lives, our sex lives, our work lives, and our innermost can-I-just-have-a-minute-to-live-inside-my-own-head-please! thought lives — if indeed you have any original thoughts left in your brain after a day spent wiping green beans off the floor and singing the VeggieTales theme song over and over and over again.
But, like so many of us, I persevered with God's help. I dug into the Bible for answers to my crankiness, my loneliness, my fatigue, and my fears. I prayed desperately for wisdom and guidance. I pocketed verses that fueled me through long and lonely hours. And as my husband and I celebrated first smiles, first steps, first words, and first birthday candles, we found ourselves living a new rhythm — one in which God's grace sets the tempo. Oh, how we needed Him then, and still do, every undie-changing, lunch-packing, boo-boo kissing day.
Eventually, God blessed us with another baby, the beloved little sister, whom we assimilated into our family adventure with struggles no less soul-stripping than the first. But the second time around, I possessed the gift of insight. God had shown Himself faithful, and I left my doors wide open for His grace.
Today my husband and I are raising two beautiful schoolage daughters, and they will be the first to tell you their mother is far from perfect. They've seen my impatience, fallen victim to my worries, withstood my hollering, and witnessed my meltdowns. They've even called me on the carpet a time or two, saying, "Mom, I think we need to ask Jesus to help you." You know it's not an award-winning parenting day when the kids bend a knee on your behalf.
Yet my children have also experienced my bottomless love and tender touch. They've listened to my lullabies and climbed into my lap, where I've wiped countless tears, read bookshelves full of stories, hugged away anxieties, and whispered enough "I love yous" to reach from our overstuffed recliner to heaven's very gate. I'll bet you have, too.
Underneath the chaos and frustrations of family life, we moms cherish our children to the core of our souls. Why is it so hard to show it sometimes? We get cranky, anxious, and overwhelmed. We're too busy, too tired, too ambitious, too distracted. We snap. We nag. We resent and regret, and on bad days we grant our children more pain than peace. How can we prevent those bad days from beating us down?
Think back for a moment to that sense of joy and gratitude you felt at your baby shower. Do you remember when motherhood was a dream come true and not a stressful, sweaty nightmare?
It is possible to reclaim that joy — for ourselves and for the sake of our children.
I've learned through experience, mistakes, prayer, wonderful mentors, and lots of Bible digging. First, identify your villains. Then, with God's strength, rise and conquer!
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
INTRODUCING THE DIRTY VILLAINS OF MOTHERHOOD
Who are these "dirty villains" of motherhood? They're the ugly, sinful tendencies lurking within each mother, poised to take over our good senses and strike against our happy homes. These nasty alter-egos prevent us from enjoying our families and growing closer to God. Their evil powers include
unhealthy approaches to housework
If you've faced the dirty villains, you are in good company. All God-fearing women must strengthen their defenses against these beasts — because not a single one of us is immune.
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).
Excerpted from The Super Mom Myth by Becky Kopitzke. Copyright © 2015 Becky Kopitzke. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: The Mom of My Daydreams 7
Chapter 1 Who Are These Little People (and How Do I Send Them Back)? 11
Chapter 2 The Grouch on the Couch 27
Chapter 3 Worry Much? 43
Chapter 4 But the Neighbors Are Doing It 59
Chapter 5 Just a Minute! 77
Chapter 6 Am I the Maid Around Here? 95
Chapter 7 Attack of the Zombie Mommy 113
Chapter 8 Not Tonight, Dear 127
Chapter 9 Martyr Mom Ain't No Good Guy 145
Chapter 10 Will the Real Superhero Please Save the Day? 161
Chapter 11 Release the Beautiful Mom Inside 175
Resources and Study Guide 187
About the Author 223