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For Part 12, click here.
1994 found me thirty and pregnant with our third child. I distinctly remember one night lying on my bed, watching the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer as my varicose veins throbbed and my belly wobbled and heard myself say "I'll never do that." I don't know what part of me had been so delusional that I thought I ever actually could do that (as in be in the Olympics or even be an athlete of any stripe) but there I was. Pregnant, thirty, and all washed up. My entire life I had looked ahead to the "some day" part of life and now, out of nowhere, I had passed that and was looking back with longing and regret for missed opportunities.
Fast forward a few months and I became the mother of a bouncing baby boy. I had heard a number of moms say "If you can handle three kids, you can handle any number above that." I am not so sure what I did counted as "handling" three kids. I cried. I despaired. I daydreamed about running off to Montana with my baby. I daydreamed about the OB that delivered my baby. Seriously. I got a freakin' crush on the doctor that delivered my baby. Who does that?
Postpartum with Baby #3 was just plain hard. Matt was working long, long hours and I wasn't so much depressed as resigned and hopeless. It was all too much and I really wanted to start over with a new and different life. Or at least a new and different husband. (Sorry, honey.)
To add insult to injury, enter The Ezzo Reign of Terror. As if I wasn't overwhelmed enough, Gary Ezzo's "Growing Kids God's Way" and "Preparation for Parenting/Babywise" parenting programs took hold in our church and in the Christian community at large. If you don't know about this, please read the link. It will help you understand the atmosphere I lived in.
Always up close and personal with insecurity, guilt, and crippling self-doubt, the emphasis that there was one way to Do It Right when it came to parenting was just disastrous for me. My thinking self read the material and recoiled at the ludicrous claims and cruel and even dangerous directives yet my emotional self hated being the odd man out and the one who didn't Do It Right.
Behind all of this stuff was a really distorted view of God. Even though at I had been a Christian for 13 years at this point, I still struggled terribly with my image of God as the stern taskmaster who was never, ever satisfied with my performance. So there I was. Convinced that God hated me because of my failure as a mother and convicted and horrified over my lack of love for my husband.
I was pretty much at the end of myself. Turns out that that is exactly where God wanted me.