As I sat down on my computer this evening, I saw several witty posts by a friend and a familiar stab of jealousy hit me: “Why can’t I be witty like that?”
It’s taken me all of my 37 years of life to (almost) master that ugly, envious side of me. Now when it rears its ugly face, I can usually remind myself, “Their success is not my failure.”
I love that phrase. For so long, I thought others’ accomplishments implied something was wrong with me for not achieving the same. No joke, I couldn’t even look at the Family Circle magazine without seeing a picture of a mom who had an organized file system for game activities to do with her kids without feeling like I was the worst mom ever. Why didn’t I have a file system? When Pinterest came out, oh man, that was rough. I refused to even look at it. I didn’t want to feel inferior to all the moms who somehow got their kids fed, dressed, and ready for school while also color coordinating their spice rack. I just couldn’t do it.
A year after starting homeschool, a friend convinced me to check out Pinterest for school ideas. I grumbled and moaned and finally conceded. And you know what? It was awesome! For the first time ever I didn’t feel inferior. I wasn’t jealous. I was relieved! Here were all these creative activities and crafts that other way-more-creative moms had put time and thought and effort into creating and sharing with the world. And I could use them. I could just hit the print button on the directions, accumulate the supplies, and let my kids go at it. It was brilliant. It was life-changing. And it saved me because for the first time I realized that I didn’t have to be as creative as those moms. That there was nothing wrong with me for not thinking of those crafts myself. In fact, it was okay that I didn’t even really like crafts. Why was I so jealous of their abilities that I didn’t really even care to acquire? Why did I put so much pressure on myself to be able to do everything, even things I didn’t really want to do?
And that’s when it all started to hit me: I am good at the things I care about. I may not be able to sew but I can crochet. I may not sing but I can enjoy listening to music. I may not create a Harry Potter themed birthday party but I can admire those who do. Their successes are not my failures. When I see the crafty-cutesy things my friends do with their kids, that doesn’t mean I am a bad mom. It means I do different things with my kids. I have different strengths. And that’s okay. Not only okay, but that’s great. I can appreciate those strengths about myself. I realize that the world is a better place because we all have different talents, interests, hobbies, and success stories. Because we are all successful in our own way.
I always wanted to live on a farm because I love animals. As we would pass by rolling farms on my childhood family vacations, I would press my face against the window longingly, wondering what it would be like to own and take care of all those horses, cows, sheep and chickens.
When my husband and I visited England several years ago with our children, I took as many opportunities as I could to drive through the countryside and take my kids to farms. It was neat to see my 18 month old learn the animal names and sounds first-hand.
Three years ago we started homeschooling our kids. I decided as a science project to have my kids incubate chicken eggs. My friend had a free-range farm that I could borrow eggs and an incubator and then return any hatched chicks to her. It was perfect. My kids and I learned all about chick development and the hatching process. We were thrilled when hatching day came. We spent the first month of their lives watching and playing with them. They would even cuddle in my kids’ laps. We were all sad when it was time for them to go back to the farm.
A few months ago, we decided to incubate again. As hatching day came and went, we were still hopeful all was well. The next day, one of the chicks began to pip through its shell. There was just a little hole that we could hear chirping through. We waited all day for progress but nothing happened. The clear membrane around the chick began to dry and thicken. I began to worry.
I looked online for what to do and found directions on how to help the chick hatch. I carefully got tweezers and picked a small straight line around half of the egg and then stopped, laid the egg on a warm, wet washcloth, and waited. Within five minutes the chick was hatched. My son and I hugged each other in excitement that it worked.
And then the dread kicked in. I had intervened in that chick’s hatching. I had done exactly what I was against for pregnant women: intervening in the natural process of birth. So often, expecting moms experience routine interventions in the hopes that it helps keep mom and baby safe but sometimes it can actually lead to bigger interventions, such as cesareans.
But, and this is a big but, what I recognized from this experience was that sometimes, those interventions truly are necessary, under the right conditions. When I thought back to my helping the chick, there were 2 things I did that I feel good about:
How is this chick like a pregnant woman? She deserves the same respect. She deserves to be given as much time as is safely possible to birth her baby, and once interventions are deemed necessary, start with the minimal amount and then step back and see if her body responds and continues on its own from there.
It’s a blessing to have the medical technology we have to help women in extraordinary circumstances to birth their babies but overuse and mismanagement of this technology is a concern. Let’s try to give nature a chance.
Birth Boot Camp Certified Doula (BBCD)