4:30 am. I give up. I’ve watched the hours tick by, starting at 1:30. Even if you’re not a “crier,” being a young mother and unable to fall back asleep when all is quiet is enough to make you weep. I’m thinking about the ugly beast of regret and pregnancy.
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Anyone who knows me knows this isn’t like me–at all. I can usually sleep through a hurricane. This morning, though, I give in, trudge into the kitchen and brew a pot of coffee–the first of many for a day like this.
The house is silent. An early-morning rain is falling. I’m at the table with the light of the screen and just one, dim light on over the stove (so I don’t end up wearing my coffee). It now makes sense to me why I can’t go to sleep.
There’s a heaviness in my heart and in my thoughts.
If you’ve read my 10 Fundamentals of MamaFearlesspost, you know that I take this seriously. It’s a journey of prayerful steps. When I say I’m praying for you, I mean it. This also means that I have to be willing to accept when something is laid upon my heart to share–even if it happens in the dark of the early, early, early morning.
The Beast of Regret & Pregnancy
There’s this ugly beast that follows so many mothers around, making noise and disruptions every day. This monster is persistent. It chants, it rants, and it mocks. It enjoys watching the hard-working mother’s brow knit in a frown, her face drawn in weary anxiety. It screams all the same things, and it never stops.
It’s the Beast of Regret.
If you’re a living, breathing human-being, you have a few at least. If you’re a mother, especially a new mother, you’ll feel it sharply. It’s amazing how, even in the midst of busy, new-mom life, we still manage to have the time to reflect on everything in our past, things we controlled, and things we didn’t–or couldn’t. That’s what’s so dangerous about the beast of regret and pregnancy.
We decide we’re going to do the healthy thing. We’re going to transform that regret into passion, into resolve, to never put our babies through this or that, or to be a better person so our babies don’t see us do _______________ that we did and regret so deeply. We transform into a soldier, determined to fight off this regret, to make it “healthy”.
And the monster laughs. Because while we are determined, we are being completely controlled by regret.
It happens, over and over again. A mother experiences something, so she vows to change the course of the future. She raises her babies with determination to avoid that regret at all cost, and so her babies grow up with a new mindset. This in turn, causes a reaction of new experiences in a different sort of way, creating a new cycle of possibly new regrets, regrets that those babies, as parents, vow to never submit their babies to, and so on.
And the monster laughs.
When my son was born, I battled feelings of inadequacy. It was a shadow that seemed to cloud over certain moments of the end of my pregnancy. I battled it with determination and planning, and prayer. But I couldn’t help but wonder, why? Why did I feel so inadequate? What caused that? Wasn’t I a woman, created in the image of God, given all the tools to become a mother, and a good mother?
It was a time of deep, brutally honest evaluation. I could see how relentlessly hard on myself I was being. I could see the unrealistically high expectations, the normal worries of motherhood, and the anticipation of childbirth. But I hurt. I hurt deeply. I wanted so badly to do this right! I wanted to get it all right, for my perfect, innocent baby who would depend of me for everything. I had to.
It was the wisdom of others around me who reminded me that, well, we’re just human. We can only be and do so much–our best. We’ll fall short, and we’ll have to be okay with that at times, willing to accept that we didn’t make the mark, and resolve to try and be better next time.
It’s easy to feel like our kids can’t afford to have us make those mistakes. But the truth about it is that there is an extensive amount of grace in those sparkly little eyes. I look into those eyes, those sweet, smiling eyes of my son, and I can see how much he believes that I hang the moon and the stars.
He needs my love, and my best.
Not perfection. Not a determined course based on regrets.
You know what my son deserves? He deserves a clean slate. He deserves to be raised by morals and values, with love, honesty and respect. He deserves to have a chance to learn by falling and skinning his knees, and to have my gentle guidance to help him avoid the “big bumps” in life. He may still hit those, but I’m doing my best to help him, and, more importantly, to help him learn from those bumps.
What my son does not deserve are inhibitions based on my regrets. He doesn’t deserve to have his mother alter the way she thinks out of fear from past experiences or mistakes. He had nothing to do with those. He isn’t my atonement. He is a new life, a new responsibility.
He Is His Own Journey
Accepting this gives me the courage to release those regrets, to laugh at some of the dumb stuff of the past, and to turn my face back to the sun. It gives me the freedom to choose joy. It gives me the freedom to let him start his own course, to help him create his life without shadows. His own mistakes and curves will come in time, but they will be his, not mine, and he’ll be free to learn and grow from them.
So I’m challenging that ugly monster. Instead of allowing it to follow me with its incessant chanting, I’m accepting forgiveness. I’m allowing grace to cover the things I can’t, and to help me guide this beautiful child. I want my son to see the love of Jesus in my eyes, not shadows and worry lines. There isn’t anything I can do about the past, anyway, but learn from it and move on.
That is the generational habit I want to create. That is the legacy I want to leave behind.
With God’s help I can, and you can, too.