When I was a little girl I used to cry or get angry and yell at my mom that I wanted to be a boy. All my friends were boys, but they could never come to a sleepover. All the fun toys were boy toys- GI Joes and matchbox cars and legos. Boys got more freedom in their behavior and expectations.
Not us girls.
There was so much pressure, even from the very beginning, on they way we should look, speak, think, and act.
And there still is.
But now my struggle is less over the external pressures, and more from internal fears.
I’m married. Obvs. But I’m also 30, and my husband and I have a dream that we’ll have 4 children. I want to give my children the best shot they could have at being born healthy, which means we can’t really wait that long before trying to get pregnant. And because we’re married and 30, people ask us regularly when we’re having kids, how long we’re waiting, if we’ve started trying, and all sorts of other super-personal questions about, basically, our sex life.
It’s awkward, guys. Cut it out.
To be fair, when I’m with all my married girlfriends it’s a question I ask them, too: How long are you waiting? It’s more out of my own fear then it is about my hopes for their next generation.
You see, I’m still afraid of becoming a mom.
But let me start further back.
I never wanted to get married or have kids. Never. This may sound like a shocker to you, but my mom never had the pleasure of being married to a man who really treasured her, or took care of her, or even practiced kindness regularly. That’s what marriage meant to me until God slapped me in the face with Joe and Janice Wood, pastors of the Vineyard Community Church in Richmond, KY. They took me under their wing(s), discipled me in the most intense, intentional way, and taught me the beauty of marriage and parenthood. They aren’t perfect, but I’m pretty sure they’re as close as God will let someone get.
Through their honesty, their intentionality, and a lot of the way they treated each other, God redeemed marriage for me. He also used them- and a handful of awesome, young, stay-at-home mothers, to redeem parenthood for me, as well. Pretty radical thinking for a girl like me.
I grew to understand and really believe that my role as a wife and a mother is irreplaceable. I truly believe that Kingdom touches earth first in the home. And I believe I have the great privilege and opportunity to raise and train my children- and that is important to me. It’s really important to me that I not have children simply to let them be raised by someone else.
Lately my Fear of Missing Out has been overtaking a lot of my time, conversations, thoughts, and energy. It’s a disease that is literally sucking me dry.
I work for this incredible organization called Adventures In Missions where I am surrounded by a hundred young twenty-and-thirty-something women who are driven and career-oriented. There is a lot of talk about the latest country they get to visit, the last group of women they have been able to teach, and the next big promotion they’re getting ready to receive. There isn’t a lot of talk about the babies that are going to come, and how excited they are to leave their current role to embrace a newer one.
I’m sure the talk is there somewhere. I just don’t hear a lot of it. And it’s really scary for me.
What will happen when we start having babies, and I decide to stay home to raise them all day while my husband gets to hang out in an active, dynamic, innovative office with 200 people his age who are all chasing the Lord all over the globe? Will I be left behind? Will I miss out on community because no one else wants to stay home with their children? And worse, will I be asked to babysit my girlfriends’ kids so they can go back to work in that same dynamic, fast-paced, exciting environment?
Point blank, I can think of nothing worse than becoming a day care.
I’m not a baby kind of girl. If you’re walking down the street with a stroller and a dog on a leash, I will cross the street to say something to you about your dog and attempt to pet it, and will not mention even the slightest thing about your baby.
I’ve been told again and again it changes when you have your own, but I’m skeptical.
How can I be torn in such extremes??
I want to raise my own children, but I also need people and significance outside of changing diapers and an opportunity for recognition and praise. It is integral to my wiring to receive recognition for my efforts. Why do you think I was so excellent at martial arts? Was it just for fun? Or was it because with every win, every trophy, every medal, I received the praise and accolades my soul so desperately needed?
Even further, my body will not be my own. An actual living thing THAT IS NOT ME will be bouncing around of his-or-her own accord, just taking up space in my skin. All I’ve heard from my now-mama girlfriends is how they struggle with self-esteem and image issues because they can’t get their pre-baby body back.
And most of them only have one baby so far!
What will FOUR do to mine??
I wish I was a boy.
It’s so easy for men. You get all the fun of sex without any of the physical consequences. You don’t have to carry a baby. You don’t have to grow a human being and then force it out of your tiniest places. Societally-speaking, you aren’t asked to stay home and raise it. Nothing changes for you! You get to keep going to a job you love, surrounded by people who can have adult conversations with you, and show up at home to see how much your kids have grown and changed and learned that day.
What a life.
I know how ridiculous I sound.
But am I? Am I being ridiculous?
The reality is that The Professor and I have agreed we won’t wait very long before starting our family. This was an equal agreement. He supports me in every way. We aren’t ready yet to get pregnant, but that time is coming.
But I am still drowning in fears and doubts and worries about a future that isn’t here yet. I am so terrified of the possibility of being left out or left behind that I am physically overcome. To the point there are moments- days, even, if I’m being honest- where I absolutely, positively, 100% do not want to have children. I am so scared of the what ifs that I can’t see straight.
What if I never feel significant again?
What if I never feel like a valued contributor on a team doing work I feel is globally impactful?
What if my husband comes home and continues to treat me like a stay-at-home-mom around the clock?
What if my husband is more a babysitter than a dad?
What if I really am left behind and have to watch all my awesome girlfriends going out and doing amazing things around the globe?
The list could continue for ages.
Sometimes it feels like fears are all I see and feel.
Which is why it’s so important for me to remind myself of the truth I know and believe.
My husband is going to be the greatest father.
I am going to be raising world-changers who are secure in their identity and in the Lord.
I will train my children to be exactly who they were created to be.
I will steward their lives because they are a gift to me.
I will bless my husband with a full quiver. (Psalm 127:4-5)
And we, together, will teach them the real meaning of family, worth, and value.
Even if I’m still afraid. Even if my body changes permanently. Even if no one else chooses to raise their children at home.
I know what I’m called to do in my next season. I don’t know how long the season will last, or even when it will start. But I know what I’m called to do. And my calling can look different than your calling. And sometimes I’ll need encouragement, and sometimes I’ll need help being reminded. And sometimes I can remind myself that God is good, He loves me, and He has created me to be an accomplisher of great things. And sometimes those great things can happen at home.
Help me, Father, to be open and willing and ready for Your plan, and not to live my life in fear of missing out or being left behind.