Prioritizing Marriage and Motherhood
I’m not gonna lie, until recently I thought the phenomenon called “pregnancy brain” was a myth.
Then I got pregnant, and now I just can’t use my brain the way I did before. This handicap has manifested itself most prominently in my inability to write. It’s been very difficult for me to gather my thoughts and think creatively. Thinking is just a lot harder.
As a result, you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as often. Hopefully the second trimester will bring about some new mental clarity soon, but in the mean time I want to re-post something I wrote a year and a half ago. I forgot about it until a friend of mine mentioned it last week, and it’s one of those posts that is fun to read in retrospect.
My friend asked if I think that having a baby will change my thoughts on this. I don’t think it will because I think that, to a certain extent, the below priorities are scripturally aligned. However, I admit it won’t be easy! Just the other day I said to Ike, “I feel like my heart has fingers on it, and those fingers are slowly wrapping around our baby tighter and tighter.” Hello idolatry! This is going to be a new kind of spiritual education, I’m sure.
In 2005 an author named Ayelet Waldman became the center of a huge controversy after publishing an article in the New York Times titled “Truly, Madly, Guiltily” in which she confessed to loving her husband more than her children. Immediately, Waldman came under tremendous attack from angry mothers everywhere. The backlash was so intense that Waldman eventually appeared on Oprah to defend herself. Since then, Waldman has written an entire book on the topic, Bad Mother, that elaborates on the controversial subject, as well as detailing further “maternal crimes.”
In general terms, Waldman and I do not have a whole lot in common. Our moral ideologies are rather remote, but on this particular point I believe Waldman is on to something. Consider, for example, her explanation of why so many marriages fall into a sexual rut, stemming from the wife’s lack of sex drive:
“There are agreed upon reasons for this bed death. They are exhausted. It still hurts. They are so physically available to their babies – nursing, carrying, stroking – how could they bear to be physically available to anyone else?
“But the real reason for this lack of sex, or at least the most profound, is that the wife’s passion has been refocused. Instead of concentrating her ardor on her husband, she concentrates it on her babies. Where once her husband was the center of her passionate universe, there is now a new sun in whose orbit she revolves. Libido, as she once knew it, is gone, and in its place is all-consuming maternal desire.”
Waldman goes on to explain that while she loves her kids and would do anything for them, she is not “in love” with them the way some mothers are:
“Yes, I have four children. Four children with whom I spend a good part of every day: bathing them, combing their hair, sitting with them while they do their homework, holding them while they weep their tragic tears. But I’m not in love with any of them. I am in love with my husband.”
I have to say that this hearty endorsement of marital love is a refreshing change from the standard conceptions of marriage in the media. Television and film tend to portray marriage as the place where sexual passion goes to die. Yet Waldman challenges this belief with a new conception of marriage–one full of romance and heat, as well as trustworthy companionship. And it all stems out of a highly prioritized marriage.
Although I don’t have children yet, I find that Waldman’s words are very much relevant to my life here and now. In the last 6 months I have struggled tremendously to accept God’s call on my life for the next few years. He has made it undeniably clear that I go back to school, and I will be here for the next 3-4 years. Although my husband and I still practice Natural Family Planning and are therefore open to the arrival of a child whenever he or she comes, any intentional effort at conceiving will be delayed for a couple more years. That is a hard reality for me.
Watching my other married friends get pregnant and have babies fills my heart with envy. I would love to be at that place right now. But God has other plans at the moment, so I must wait. And it is during this waiting, when I feel like something is lacking in me as a woman and us as a family, that I am reminded that a strong family rests upon a strong marriage. As Andy Stanley once said, ”Kids are a welcome addition, but you are already a family.”
We live in a culture that is bifurcated by two competing views of motherhood: one that completely devalues motherhood, and one that overvalues it, placing a woman’s entire identity in her ability to have and raise children. There must be a middle ground between the two, and Waldman re-centers us onto that balance. She is not promoting parental negligence, but instead a healthy re-prioritizing.
The main thing I would add to Waldman’s thinking is the even greater centrality of God. While the marital priority stabilizes the family, the God priority stabilizes the marriage–and every other aspect of our lives.
So while this chapter of my life is a difficult one in some regards, Waldman’s essay is a helpful reminder that this season can serve as an investment in the next. It is extra free time to focus on God and my husband before adding kids to the mix. And I plan to be a good steward of the opportunity. As Waldman beautifully concludes in her essay:
“And if my children resent having been moons rather than the sun? If they berate me for not having loved them enough? If they call me a bad mother?
“I will tell them that I wish for them a love like I have for their father. I will tell them that they are my children, and they deserve both to love and be loved like that. I will tell them to settle for nothing less than what they saw when they looked at me, looking at him.”
I hope to say the exact same thing to my children one day….especially when telling them about their Heavenly Father.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ssmq/6219042615/
- Andrew MasonCreating A Small Group Curriculum Map by Ben Reed http://www.smallgroupchurches.com/creating-a-small-group-curriculum-map/
- Marcella WoodridgeThe longer I live the more I know I need GOD leading my life every step of the way.
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia CarterHello I'm New Here!!
- Octavia Carter just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost May Jesus Christ Be The Ultimate Treasure We Always Seek by Debbie Harris..
- Debbie Harris published the blogpost Father Who Can We Graciously And Humbly Walk Beside Today Just To Love by Debbie Harris.
- Bryce Johnson just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Bill Reichart published the blogpost 13 Resources For Ministry Leaders Who Struggle with Porn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Expert Reveals Biggest Concern About Youngsters And Social Media.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Half (54%) Of US Teens Think Life Would Be Better Without Social Media.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Roy Lichtenstein's Most Popular Painting is Displayed.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost After Confronting Campus Bully, HS Football Player Gets Suspended.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Conservative Student Is Victim Of ‘Racist Rape Apologist’ Attack Fliers.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Yik Yak app Putting Teens Behind Bars, Police Warn.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost Hearing That Things Can Change Helps Teens Dodge Depression.
- Andrew Shivers just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost GIVEAWAY: Win a Framed “The Fault in Our Stars” FULL SIZE Movie Poster [Winner Chosen].
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost ‘Boxtrolls:’ Incredible Animation, Charmless Story.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Video of the Day: Dad Lip-Syncs Daughter's Tantrum.
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost SOTW: ‘Chasing After The Wind’ by Alan Powell (Free Friday Download).
- Matt Perman published the blogpost The Drive Video: If You Want Engagement, Self-Direction is Better.
- LuAnn Braley published the blogpost BOOK REVIEW/INTERVIEW: The Unexpected Earl by Philippa Jane Keyworth.
- Shane Blackshear published the blogpost Seminary Dropout 55: Gary Black Jr. – Co-author of The Divine Conspiracy Continued.
- Lori Fogleman published the blogpost ‘Believe Me': Alum’s thought-provoking film now in theaters.
- Michael Ramsey published the blogpost Stress Kills!!! Here's 3 Ways To Do Something About It.
- Larry Carter published the blogpost How The New Fall TV Season Reminds Me Of The Gospel.
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Suffering Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost Overcoming Depression-Anxiety: A Personal Responsibility Paradigm (Seminar Videos).
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost 20 Approaches to Battling Depression-Anxiety as Suffering.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Hellion’ is A Wild, Family-Driven Ride Worth Taking.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2′ is Cool, Uncommitted.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost “Kidnapped for Christ” Review: The Terror of Teens.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Pieces Together a Winning Team.
- Ashley Howland published the blogpost Talking about cancer on WFAA’s ‘Two Chairs’ series.
- Daniel DeHart published the blogpost Get Excited: New ‘Believe Me’ Trailer Validates Everything We Thought.
- solomon david published the blogpost Micromax Canvas Nitro Launched for Rs 12,990 in India.