That’s my theme for 2013. Word of the year = grace.
Sometime around Thanksgiving I started letting myself off the hook. Off the hook for having everything together, decorating our house perfectly, being scheduled. Our life is far from perfect but if motherhood has taught me anything in 6 short months, it has taught me that I need more and more grace.
Especially from myself.
I don’t tend toward perfectionism normally. Mainly because I’ve lived enough years making a fool of myself. Perfectionism and Andrea just don’t go hand in hand. Before Elizabeth, I never held myself to the unattainable, the world’s standard. I never felt beat up or like I had to get it together. I spent way too many years in early adulthood striving for that and it led nowhere. My motto for life, ever since a dear mentor mentioned it in college, has been learning to manage my expectations:
“The difference between your expectations and reality is disappointment.”
Isn’t that the truth? And yet, I’ve spent the past 6 months, not disappointed necessarily, but living in this place between satisfied and frustrated. Right after Elizabeth was born things were really good. I was happy and fulfilled and enjoying every single minute with my baby girl. And then came the slight hints of disappointment. Here or there they would pop up. I thought, for some silly reason, that I could do it all. I mean, we all can do it all for awhile, right? Then the Lord hits us over the head.
I can’t do it all. I can’t even come close. Try telling that to a girl who has a servant heart, loves quality time, and is introverted. That translates to a girl who gives so much she’s forgets herself, any spare time she fills up with people because she needs the quality time, and then in the aftermath she realizes there’s nowhere to turn for some good introverted introspection and time alone. I’m not a schedule person and I was becoming neurotic over Elizabeth’s “schedule.” I don’t know who that person was.
It wasn’t me.
I became a mess of emotions. Self-pity, resentment, bitterness, pride, selfishness…they all came out to play. Unable to give myself grace because for some silly reason I felt as though I needed to do it all. I mean Elizabeth was depending on me. And the downward spiral began…and on my birthday I began to see again. Began to see what was missing.
I missed me. Slowly in all the day in and day out matters I had lost sight of myself. That woman that is confident, care-free, non-type-A, silly. Before Elizabeth ever came I remember repeating the hierarchy to myself…(God first, Alex second, Elizabeth third). And somewhere as the months flew by this hierarchy began to look like Elizabeth first, second, and third. And people kept telling me it was just a season as I grew more dissatisfied.
I don’t know when mommy martyrdom began but I’m totally opposed. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a mommy…I waited my whole life for this and it’s everything I ever imagined it to be. What I didn’t imagine was losing myself. I feel for me to be a good momma I need to be in good health. Not physical per say, but emotional, mental, and spiritual. And as my birthday passed me by, I began reflecting and giving myself grace. Mommy hood to me doesn’t mean losing my identity in motherhood. Because there’s so much more to me.
So I’ve been working, slowly, to dig deep and find that person that was left behind. She was still in there, thank goodness. And I’ve set some things up to make sure I don’t get lost again. Safeguards.
As Christmas came around, like any momma, I wanted it to be perfect. But just so you know, I didn’t bake one cookie, I only took a few pictures, I didn’t pose Elizabeth in 500 different poses to get the right shot, I didn’t worry about our décor in our house, I didn’t buy her an ornament, I didn’t do any of the 500 great crafts on Pinterest, and we only made it 1/2 way through our advent reading. Instead I cuddled our sweet baby girl, gave her kisses, helped her to sleep, and fell in love all over again with myself and with Alex. I just looked at Pinterest and told it to step back. Not gonna bring me down.
I gave myself grace. It wasn’t perfect, not even close. And I’m still giving myself grace. I put Elizabeth in the nursery at Lifetime Fitness so I could walk on the treadmill and have a few moments to myself. And that’s okay. I wanted to stop nursing but I didn’t. And that’s okay. I want Elizabeth to sleep better but she doesn’t so I just cuddle her more. And that’s okay. I wish my family lived closer so we could see them more often but they don’t. It’ll be okay. I want to write and live and be a woman, be me. And that’s okay.
I have to take care of myself so that I can take care of others. So that I can better make much of Jesus. So that I can love my husband and daughter more. I’m re-learning that to thrive in motherhood I need to be okay stepping back at times and managing my expectations. And that means giving myself grace.
So here’s to 2013 and giving GRACE!