I’m reading about motherhood and balance and our perpetual state of busyness, and I feel so horribly inadequate. These moms who work and shuttle children to and fro and go to the gym and invest in others and are involved in church. Next to them, I am so pathetic. My husband goes out of town for a week, and I drag my one and two-year-old across town so that we can crash at my in-laws’ house.
I could never be a single mom. I can’t even spend the week alone with my kids. I need more sleep than my toddlers in order to function. I require IV fluids weekly on top of my 80 ounces of fluids daily. I can’t stand for more than a few minutes. I need so. Much. Help. And I feel so horribly guilty. I can’t produce. I can’t perform. Heck, some days I can’t even drive. I have anywhere from three to seven specialist appointments every week just for myself.
Being sick feels indulgent. Being chronically ill feels so horribly selfish. Why do I have to do all of these things for myself? What kind of mommy chugs her own Gatorade in the morning before she gets her baby a cup of juice? What kind of mommy can’t get off the couch to have a dance party with her wild and wonderful toddler? This is self-shaming, and I am pretty sure that it is not helpful.
I think, however, that being sick in a works and performance-based, shame-driven culture is particularly challenging. I am not the typical stay-at-home mommy that I encounter at my children’s playgroups. I have to heavily weigh out the consequences of even going to playgroup (will I pass out there or while driving home? How far will I have to carry the children in the parking lot? Can I do it safely? Can I care for them the rest of the day afterwards?). My assumption is that most mothers don’t have to go through this type of check list before outings. And, honestly, for the record, none of those questions seem particularly selfish.
Maybe there isn’t a one-size-fits-all expectation for productivity. Maybe our culture is a little bit off the mark when we make judgments on the value of an individual based on his or her performance level. Maybe in an upside-down kingdom where all is grace, there is more room for disability and limited performance. Maybe awareness of great need opens up windows of vulnerability that allow the light of love to pass through more clearly. Maybe it’s okay. Maybe I’m okay, and my babies can still know how very cherished they are even if we don’t make it to the zoo once a week. Maybe cuddling and story-telling are as valuable as dance-parties and outings.
Yes, I think that we are doing just fine. And I think that I probably still have to chug my Gatorade before anyone else gets taken care of. Because, truly, no one can be okay if mommy is unconscious on the floor (that’s my version of “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy). God’s grace is wide enough for my sickness, and His love is large enough to manifest through me within my weakness to my beloveds. I surrender my need to conform and perform. I am weak, and I am so loved.