"There goes all your dreams.”
“You just graduated college, you haven’t even got to have a career for yourself yet.”
“Have plans of your own? Better do everything you ever wanted now, because when baby gets here, it’s goodbye life, hello motherhood forever.”
Wes and I weren't even married before were bombarded with the “So when will you have children?” questions. Naturally, everyone had their own opinion on when my husband and I should bring a child into this world (Don't they always?) I knew I wanted to have my children while I was still young; I wanted to be able to enjoy them and do activities with them. Four months into marriage we decided, if it happens, it happens, if not, okay. We weren’t trying, but we weren’t really not trying, if you know what I mean.
How God must’ve smiled at that conversation because a week later, He gave us Kinsley.
You can imagine the looks and reactions we got when people would ask how long we’ve been married and then discover I was pregnant. Que the things that were said at the beginning of this post.
It was those very words that made this 22 year old girl question and doubt whether having a baby this young was what I had always wanted; it was those very words that left me in tears as I stared at pictures of my husband and I together from those first few months of marriage, just the two of us, crying because the thought that I had ruined the early years of our marriage taunted me; those very words,though some were said jokingly, some were not, destroyed me for a period of time.
I remember sitting in our bed one day, only a week or two after Kinsley’s birth, tears falling, as I held her and looked at the pictures of Wes and I on the wall. My heart ached. How could I weep over this beautiful, bundled gift God had given me? But what was my marriage going to look like now that my husband and I would never be alone again?
At least, that's the way everyone made it out to be. If anyone ever tells you, you and your spouse will never have a minute alone, that's a lie. They will be few, but those minutes will come, and how much more you will treasure them. In the process of becoming a mom, I lost almost all sense of who I was, despite my efforts of trying not to.
As a child, I loved to read, write, play piano and draw. Being creative is what I thrived off of, and I still do. The farther I got through pregnancy though, the less I desired to do much of anything, unless it involved eating snow cones and getting foot rubs. I knew my time of being able to do whatever I wanted whenever I felt like would soon be over and I would have to work around the schedule and life of my little one. Countless times, people would remind me, "Better do all the writing you can, it'll be 18 years before you get to again."
That just can't be true, I thought. It can't be that bad. Each time I would hear a comment like this, I became more determined to not let that happen, I promised myself I would make time for me, I wouldn't age 20 years in the span of 1.
Then my precious little girl was born. It truly is hard to imagine what life was like before babies, partially because they are just so wonderful and partially because you’re so sleep deprived you literally can’t remember.
Then it began.
That first month of being home with your precious squish is one of the most draining, but most special months, at least for me it was. I soaked up every minute I could (most of the time simply staring at her as she slept.) After that month though, the mundane everyday household chores, the constant caring for another human being, practically living in the same two pairs of yoga pants, it all began to tug at me.
Satan would begin to whisper lies: "Look at your body, it's no longer toned, you haven't even showered today; purpose? what purpose, all you do is clean and play cow to a child, while your friends are out shopping, visiting the mountains, going to Taco Bell at 11 PM. This is your life now, nothing more.
It may sound silly, but really, even the little things like those late night sporadic taco bell runs were missed. Not to mention the loss of friendships. At first you don’t really notice it, until pictures pop up on social media or you reconnect one day and everyone has an inside joke, except for you. Don’t get me wrong, I understand, I really do. But baby or no baby, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m still only, a now 23 year old girl; I still like getting dressed up, doing my hair, going dancing, seeing a movie, going to concerts, getting ice cream at 10 PM; things all 20 year olds like to do. It just takes a little more planing and preparation for me to be able to do so now.
That being said, yes I want to celebrate your birthday, no I cannot come out for a night on the town if you tell me the day of and you live in another state.The days of just going and doing whenever I feel like are no more for me.
And that’s okay.
But I had to learn to be okay with that. FOMO, man. It can get you.
Social media tells us that our 20’s are meant for discovering ourself; for backpacking across Europe, for showcasing our beautiful bodies because this is our prime state; the 20’s are for chasing that big dream. My 23rd birthday was spent trying to eat out at Chili's in hopes that I wouldn’t get heartburn, then taking a 2 hour nap before bed, with my feet propped up. Yes, you can laugh, please laugh. It's funny.
When people my age ask me where I work or what I do now and I explain that I work full time hours, go in an office 2 days a week then stay at home with my little girl, I get the “aw that’s sweet, living the stay at home mom dream,” more often than not.
When I first went back to work I struggled with this response. While yes, I am extremely thankful for the flexibility my job offers to be able to stay home with my baby most days, I was so torn between wanting to permanently stay at home with Kinsley, while also having a deep desire to pursue my writing. At around 3 months postpartum, I stood in my shower and I cried.
I had been pooped on, peed on and nursed my daughter for what felt like literally 20 hours out of the 24. I hadn't brushed my teeth, I had just finished my first meal of the day, which was my cold dinner that had been sitting out, I was just done. My body hurt to the bone. So I stood there as the hot water ran down my achey body and I cried. And I cried and I cried.
"I'm supposed to be getting late night ice cream with my husband, laughing and watching the new movie at the theatre."
A million different thoughts flooded my mind, all these different scenarios played out, all I could think of was how all my friends were doing whatever the heck they wanted to and the fact that I couldn't. I looked down at my postpartum body and the tears fell a little harder.
I can’t pretend that it’s not hard living in a society where our physical appearance is judged so highly. Physically, I want to be healthy, for myself and my daughter, but being in your 20's and seeing all of your friends in their super cute swim suits with their tan skin and toned legs lounging at the lake... it’s not always the easiest to scroll through. Not to mention, everywhere you look is telling you what your 20 year old self should look like; it’s hard to love that image staring back at you in the mirror sometimes, flabby skin and all.
Don't get me wrong, I take pride in these stretch marks, these marks are the proof that my body housed a 6 lb. 9 oz tiny human in me for 9 months. Talk about accomplishments in your twenties! If only it was acceptable to put that on my resume, or bucket list, for that matter.But I’m only human and I am a young woman, so sometimes, when I’m not careful, I can let those marks be a tool for Satan to use as he tries to creep into my ear and whisper his ugly words in my mind.
Expectations can be great, but they can also be detrimental. When you’re constantly being bombarded with what your life should look like and feel like, then you don’t measure up to that picture, your perspective on life becomes bitter; your heart becomes callused. Your emotions run rampant.
You live on a carousel of self pity.
That's where I had gone. I was riding that carousel around and around. God was standing there, waiting for me to stay stop, so He could help me down.
As my tears fell, I told God:
"I can't do this. I wanted this baby for so long, I've always wanted to be a mom. I love her so much. Help me be content, restore my joy in this season of life. Let me find my comfort in you and not in the pictures social media shows me."
Just like that, my tears stopped. I took a deep breath and it felt like a weight was lifted. God had taken my hand and helped me step off that carousel.
That day was a pivotal point for me, not only was my love for and perspective of motherhood changed, but my expectations for what the next few years of my life should look like, were transformed. That desire to become a mother all my life was restored and being a mom has been nothing short of wonderful. Yes, there are days when I just want to hide in a closet for an hour or two, what mom doesn't? But my constant comparison and expectation of who I should be, what I should look like and what I should be doing in life, no longer comes from the fluffy words and dressed up pictures I see on social media. That's not to say I don't still struggle, that carousel is very tempting some days. But man, that little girl has changed my life, we have so many adventures, even the worst days are still good. My pictures may not be lounging on the lake in my cute two piece, but man those chunky rolls and $5 blow up pools in the back yard are pretty great, too!
The 20’s, a time for rediscovering yourself.
Well let me tell ya, I’ve discovered more about myself these past 12 months than I would have liked. In that though, I’ve met a community of friends (both moms and not) with bonds that are so deep and genuine; I’ve began chasing my writing dream more than I ever have, I learned my passions and who I was at the core were all still there, I had just become a better version of myself because of this new challenge; I’ve travelled and planned trips for the next few years that will be just as great as backpacking through Europe, only my backpack will carry a tiny tot who gives me kisses.
Through motherhood, I've gotten just a glimpse of what God's love for us as His children looks like; the good, the bad and the messy. To think I was a decently selfless person before motherhood makes me laugh, I never knew the meaning of true sacrifice until I took on the role of "mom."
I had a newly wed friend ask me not to long ago, “If you could go back and change when you got pregnant, would you?"
The answer? Absolutely not.
My 20’s don't look like the stereotypical depiction you see in movies or online and my personal memories don't live up to those expectations, but I wouldn’t trade these experiences and years that God has designed specifically for me for anything in the world.
Whether you're a young mom, a first time mom, a seasoned mom, a foster mom, an expecting mom, it doesn't matter, just know that you have a purpose and that purpose should not be measured by the expectations that this world places on us.
Keep on, keepin' on, momma.