Motherhood Spectrum “Disorder”

This title was meant to be an attention grabber. Did it work? Because I really want you to read this.

Motherhood is an ever changing journey that takes us through the full of a spectrum of emotions. Rarely ever do we feel one single emotion at a time, and we often confuse conflicting feelings with wrong feelings.

Wherever you find yourself today, this post is for you. As mothers, our experiences are all vastly different, but our hearts often beat the same. 

Conflicting Feelings are NOT Wrong Feelings

My weary heart had to learn this lesson the hard way this week. I was putting so many emotions into boxes instead of dealing with them. I packed up my feelings while living amongst actual boxes in our newly moved-into apartment.

There was chaos around me and within me, and I wasn’t able to think past the next five minutes. My goals went from “Read my Bible” and “Workout,” to “Sharon…get out of bed…get yourself dressed”

Life has seasons of great difficulty, and there is nothing shameful about reverting to survival mode. We cannot stay there though.

We eventually need to switch gears from merely surviving to actually living. To do that, you have to give yourself permission to FEEL and to RELEASE.

I struggled to unpack my “emotional boxes” because there were too dang many of them.  When I did eventually open some, they were very conflicting. Were my feelings wrong?

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God used some wonderful women to speak truth into my life that I need you to hear:

Your feelings are not wrong just because they are different or seemingly opposite. Your grief does not steal from your joy. You can be grateful and still mourn. Give yourself permission to feel ALL of it. Lean in, even when it is uncomfortable.

This is not how it should be

You may be a foster-mama who gets to see small children go through BIG hurts. Your marriage may be ripping at the seams, but you both don’t have energy to deal with it after handling kids all day. You may have experienced the loss of a child or the unborn, which is a pain category all of its own. Or, you may be like me.

I have two fearfully and wonderfully made daughters, and both of them have special needs.

Our family has been through so many trenches that our life doesn’t feel like ours anymore. Moments of our story have felt like a surreal nightmare, that surely it didn’t happen to us. You can read our story here. 

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I am so incredibly grateful for my precious family, but I can also grieve the loss of the pictures I had in my head. The only way I survived the NICU was by daydreaming of future moments. The family vacations, the birthday parties, the camping trips. I played out scenarios in my head, and all of them involved my girls be able to speak to me.

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Instead, our days are mostly silent. There is a lot of screaming and frustration, but the words are not there.

My girls spend more hours in therapy than they do at playdates. We go to the hospital more than we go to the park.

Our lives are different, messy, and hard. I wouldn’t trade our life for anything, but…It’s okay to express that this is not how it should be. 

Let go of what should be, embrace what is.

Much like survival mode, we cannot set up camp in the acknowledgment that our lives are not what or where they should be.

There is a huge difference in feeling sorrowful and feeling sorry for yourself. One is an emotion that is a necessary part of processing life, the other is a pit fall that you want to avoid.

I found myself in the self-pity pit, and I needed to climb out. Maybe you find yourself in a similar pit, or maybe you are too numb right now to realize you’ve fallen. Take the first step, and unpack any one of the emotions you have stuffed away.

Feel it. Cry. Rage. Yell. Be silent. Whatever you have to do…

Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
Ephesians 4:26

Packing away our emotions is still a form of holding on to them. Think of it like an actual move. I can put all my stuff into storage and have the appearance of a “perfectly clean house,” but keeping a storage unit still costs something of me. At some point, I will have to deal with all of that stuff, or even worse, someone else will have to on my behalf.

Full Spectrum Emotion is anything but a Disorder

You can feel both joy and sadness and be right. There is nothing inherently wrong with experiencing grief and gratitude simultaneously. Your heart can hold both frustration and freedom. 

May you find peace in your journey, community to support you, and joy renewed.

To read more of our posts on Parenthood, click the links below!

What Makes a Family: Teachable Tuesday

The Pain of Motherhood

Un-Expecting Motherhood