For as long as I can remember, I have struggled big time with believing that I am enough. For years, I fought to earn my self-worth through my performance- I was an honor roll student, an obedient child and have struggled at more than one point in my life with workaholic tendencies. I have busted my butt to please others, to do what I thought was expected of me.
Part of this is of course about worthiness. I have struggled consistently with believing that I am enough- good enough, smart enough, pretty enough...
At certain times in my life, I have had to deal with this in big ways. Falling in love and getting married forced me to accept that I was loved for who I was right now, and not based on any type of performance (which is a good thing, based on my housekeeping skills at that point in my life...). Moving to Germany forced me to accept that I was enough even when my ability to do normal everyday activities (work, drive, communicate) was reduced significantly.
But never has this been more true than in these first few weeks of motherhood. Though I had hoped and prayed for a baby for years, I was not prepared for what having one would do to me and my body. Of course, it was (and is) a challenge learning how to care for Caleb- how to feed him, and sooth him, how to get him to fall back asleep in the middle of the night. All these things are a huge learning curve, but one I must say, I expected to have to deal with. We welcomed a new family member into our home and that doesn't come without it's challenges.
I had expected to have less time for myself, to put my hobbies on hold for awhile, to shift my priorities around in order to properly care for my little one. These were all things I was willing and happy to do. What I had not expected was how intense my physical recovery would be. It's only in these last two weeks that I've honestly started feeling like myself again.
Needless to say, I was a bit of a mess. Keeping up with the laundry felt like a challenge akin to climbing a mountain (though not giving birth...), clean floors felt like a luxury of the past and dinner was never ready until late in the evening. I was exhausted, frustrated with myself for taking so long to heal, for not handling my recovery all that well. Childbirth- while difficult, felt empowering to me. This whole postpartum period just felt debilitating.
I know that I'm not the first mama to struggle in this time. We all do to some extent, I'm sure. But I was still caught off guard by the intensity of what I was feeling, by how overwhelming my recovery became. And of course, my inner perfectionist just wouldn't let things be. That hustle for worthiness- an unforgiving and exhausting dance I've fought most of my life was back in full force. Though this time, of course, I was in no physical condition to dance.
When my mom came to visit, about a month after Caleb was born, she brought with her a pair of extra hands and a lot of grace. I am so thankful she was here and so grateful for all the help she was around the house and with C. She also brought with her Brené Brown's book Daring Greatly. I tore through it in about a week's time, the words like a balm for my tired postpartum self.
The book, as many will know, deals with vulnerability. But it also talks about worthiness, parenting and fear. It talks about how many of us, when we look at the good things we've been given in life, feel afraid that it's quite simply too much- it's too good, it's more than we deserve, and therefore can't possibly last. We use worry (among other things) to sabotage our enjoyment of these gifts because the thought of loosing what we have is just too painful.
As I read, I was shocked to see myself so clearly reflected on the pages. I had no idea that this way of thinking was a thing- that others struggled with it and that there was a language to describe it. But that's exactly what I do. I don't think I'm possibly worthy of what I've been given and am therefore terrified to loose it. The belief that I am not enough is in fact getting in the way of my ability to fully enjoy what I've been blessed with. This constant striving to do more, to be more, this unrelenting hustle... it's exhausting.
According to the book, one of the best ways to combat this is with gratitude. To admit that we don't feel worthy of what we have and to be thankful for it anyway. Perhaps even to be thankful for it because it's more than we deserve.
It's not easy but I'm learning to be thankful. I'm learning to give myself grace in the areas where I feel inadequate and to stop hustling to earn my worthiness. I'm learning to embrace, even savour those days when it's noon and nothing is done, there's a sink full of dishes, and Caleb wants to cuddle. I'm learning that sometimes it's okay to leave things as they are and take your baby for a walk, if that's what you're both needing. The laundry will be there when you get back...fortunately or unfortunately, haha. And I'm learning to admit that I can't always do all the things. Taking care of my baby and myself is really more than enough some days.