As I look back on my 65 years, to say that my life did not turn out the way I expected would be an understatement. I wonder how many of us would be honest enough to say the same.
I approached both marriage and motherhood with incredible idealism. I was sure I would have the greatest marriage and my kids would rise up and call me blessed (Proverbs 31:28). Now, all these decades later, I am grateful that they at least speak to me – on occasion.
I believed my marriage would last ’til death do us part. Our children would bless us with grandchildren and they would all come home for Sunday dinners.
The way it turned out? I can’t say I ever imagined the realistic side of life. I do have one grandchild, but he is being raised by his father and the grandmother on his paternal side.
Because I never thought I would have kids (secondary infertility), I cherished the idea of motherhood and even called it my “divine appointment.” I have mostly adopted kids who I mostly homeschooled.
Being a Christian homeschooling mom is a lot of pressure. We strive for perfect marriages and perfect children, but life doesn’t always cooperate.
Homeschooling moms compare themselves and measure their worth by how well their family is managed. The goal is to turn out perfect little human beings. Even though I was a very active member of that community, writing books and speaking at homeschool conventions, when my family started to experience issues and problems, that same community shunned me.
Aspiring to have a perfect family life and a perfect marriage puts you under a lot of pressure.
My first clue that the pressure was killing me was when I landed in a 3-week inpatient program for depression. At that time, my then husband had been diagnosed with cancer and was quite ill. Some of the issues of my children were beginning to surface. The future did not look bright. In fact, it looked dreadful.
My therapy process caused me to examine my patterns of sabotage. No marriage is perfect and no children are perfect. We are all imperfect people. Unfortunately, it takes time to realize this.
Sometimes dedication to children and family can lead to an unhealthy dependence on them. When they struggled, I died a little inside. My flaw was my inability to let go to allow them to try and fail, to fly high and crash hard. My attempts to fix people and make them happy were misguided… and sad.
Another factor leading to my disillusionment had to do with defining my identity. My identity as a mom was so tied up in the drama of family life that I lost myself.
While juggling the issues of many children with many issues, the marriage died a little with each crisis we faced. Could we have done it differently? Some couples survive great tragedy. Others fold into their own bitterness and disappointment.
Family therapy could have probably helped had we chosen it early on, but we didn’t. We still have disagreements about how to handle things with the now grown children.
The kids grew up and on. The marriage failed. Shared struggle failed to knit us together. The statistics for marriage survival for couples facing the issues we faced are grim. Only the strongest can survive the major challenges we faced, and we turned out average.
I will cherish the good times, the laughter of children, the loyalty of a good spouse. I will cherish the growth in wisdom and patience that blessed my challenges.
I will forever remain grateful for the many miracles of my life – the arrival of children, the many fun experiences we had together, the growth we all experienced because of the crucible of family life.
Through the tears and the pain, the doubts and the uncertainty – it was worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m marriage and motherhood survivor. I’m still standing and I’m OK.
Has your life turned out the way you thought it would? Have your experiences prepared you for this time in your life? Are you able to look back and see blessings? Let’s swap stories!
Tags Being Grateful