Allison plays many roles in my life, she’s my sister (in-law) and friend, a kind and supportive wife to my brother, and a compassionate, loving new momma to my nephew, Weston. I am crazy thankful to be able to experience life with her in each of these capacities. In a busy season of motherhood, where none of what she speaks of below applies to my own season, Allison was still able to speak straight to my heart by reminding me that whatever life season we may find ourselves in, as long as we have Christ, we’ve got it all. How quickly I tend to forget… Thank you, Allison.
This phase of life is one that many people have experienced before. It’s not new. For decades, women have entered motherhood. And for decades, women have survived it.
I am a new mother. I am a new mother who has chosen to go back to work. As I sit here writing this, my child is sleeping and I am tethered to the outlet on the wall via one of the oddest-looking apparatus you have ever seen as I pump milk for my baby boy to have during the day while I go to work. And I feel like Bessie the dairy cow.
The obnoxious whoosh-whoosh of the breast pump has become the soundtrack of this new phase of life. It’s the soundtrack that you can’t get out of your head. And I feel like I am always pumping. Every few hours, I sit down, connect myself to this breast pump and wait as it extracts drops of “liquid gold” for the nourishment of my child. It’s pretty terrible.
In this phase of life, new motherhood, the virus of comparison runs rampant. Comparison infects women in every phase of life but it plagues new mommies. Before, when I felt like my clothes or my belongings didn’t measure up to those of the people around me, I felt the pangs of discontentment. For me however, warding off these feelings of inadequacy was never too hard. Of course I wished and wanted and crafted my dream kitchen on the pages of Pinterest, but the foundational knowledge of my place in Christ’s grand story was enough for me to be overall content in what I have and rejoice in the gifts granted to others.
But the ante of comparison goes through the roof with a baby in the picture. As a new mother, there are one hundred new levels of comparison and one hundred new ways to “not be enough.” Then, when there is a precious baby on the other side of these comparisons, guilt gets thrown into the mix. The feeling of guilt in new motherhood looms at every corner. You’re wrong if you do and wrong if you don’t — it just depends on the day and what book you are reading.
In breastfeeding alone, comparison and guilt are so strong. I hear it in my own thoughts and see it in new moms around me. Am I producing enough milk? They say “breast is best” but how long should I go? How much does he need to have a strong enough immune system? Is formula really that bad? People use it all the time. Pumping takes an immense amount of time and effort. Is it all really worth it? Can I stop? And what happens if I do? Will my child get sick from something I could have prevented? On the other hand, I am spending so much time and getting so little in return. This is a huge time commitment, should I be using my time in other ways?
Then the thoughts turn from practicalities to heart issues. Why do I even want to stop? Is it because pumping is an inconvenience and I want comfort? Is that selfish? If this is really “liquid gold” for my child, why not do all I can? And the cycle goes on and on. But crippling comparison is not limited only to feeding. Society gives its opinions on lots of different things when it comes to raising children. What stroller to buy, what diapers to use. How to get babies to sleep, how to make them stop crying. Going back to work, not going back to work. Disciplining your children and whether tolet them use your iPhone at the restaurant or not. The list goes on. And let me tell you, society gives compelling arguments on all sides.
In the same way that comparison plagues my perception of myself measuring up as a new mom, I see how it infects my walk with the Lord. Comparison whispers in my ear what my quiet time is “lacking” and shows me what my quiet time “should” look like. I begin to look at my time with the Lord next to the depictions of quiet times I see on Instagram or hear that my friends are having. I feel like I fail when I don’t have a sunrise, coffee cup and tattered bible in the frame of my view. I measure myself next to the discipline and profound deep lessons I hear others are experiencing and it is tempting to feel the need to imitate that.
The problem is, these measures of my relationship with the Lord begin to be about me rather than about Him. This comparison tears away my ability to rejoice in the sunrises, the well-loved bibles and the discipline of my dear friends. The truth is, behind those beautiful pictures is a Lord that created the most incredible sunrises. A Lord that gives us an identity beyond our broken selves.
Comparison also prevents me from giving myself grace in this crazy, busy phase of new motherhood. Being hard on myself for failing to go deep enough in my quiet time or consistently dig into the word makes my faith journey about me and not about Him. I have to see whatever I can give as enough. I have to draw near to Him in whatever brief moments I can steal and that has to be enough.
by allison haveman
This post is part of the Summer of Seasons that Darcee and I are hosting. Our hope is that as others share about seeking God in their particular season of life, we would all be encouraged to know and love and seek after the Lord more in our daily lives.