I pulled into the parking lot, running late as usual. Other moms had begun to gather as they waited for everyone to arrive. As soon as I saw them, insecure thoughts flooded my mind as the comparison began.
When did she get such a nice car? How in the world can they afford that?
What a cute outfit. She looks great! I look so scrubby.
Oh, she remembered to bring a snack for her kids! Do I have enough for my little one? Do I have too much?
That day, as I walked at the park with other young mamas, insecurity was at the forefront of my mind. They seemed to know a foreign language that I was only just beginning to learn. I was fumbling, hoping they didn’t notice that I did not fully understand the unfamiliar “mom language.”
My journey to motherhood was not the typical story that most of my friends share. The story that most people can tell consists of a familiar one—get married, wait a couple years, decide you want to get pregnant, get pregnant, give birth. So it goes for many women. Not so for me.
When my husband and I married, I was 27 and he was 29. We were considered somewhat “late bloomers” in our social circle and were among the last of our friends to enter marriage. A couple years later, getting pregnant proved much harder than we thought. During this time of frustrating disappointment, we were made aware of the foster care crisis in our state and became licensed foster parents. Our first placement was a sibling group of three. We were completely overwhelmed and extremely humbled by the entire situation.
Entering into motherhood by standing in the gap for another woman’s children is tricky, to say the least. But as we floundered through the process, I found that mothering was a role that gave me a deep sense of purpose and joy. The simplest tasks and routines proved mundane, this is true. But in light of leading and stewarding little hearts, they suddenly became opportunities to teach and see growth.
While most of my friends had transitioned to a life of diapers, bedtime routines, and play dates, I was still working full time and taking care of another woman’s children. Entering into motherhood via foster care provides a completely different experience in which you are thrown into a stage of parenting that you most likely are not prepared for.
The pain of infertility was softened when just one month after the three kiddos unexpectedly left our home, we found out we were expecting our miracle son. I was elated—finally I would get to join the “real mom club.” After all, I wasn’t a real mom when I was caring for another woman’s children. Now that I was going to have “my own” baby, things would be different and I would be a part of the illustrious group I had coveted to have a part in for years.
About six months into pregnancy, we welcomed a new child into our home, this time a sweet teen girl who would change our hearts and lives forever. The learning curve was steep, but we were willing to learn. Three months later, our miracle boy was born, and everything changed. Again.
When I found myself at the walking date with the other mamas, I thought to myself,
What do they talk about?
Will I have anything to contribute?
My life is so different from theirs. Can we relate to one another?
There was an insecurity in not having the right accoutrements, this is true. I didn’t feel like I had the right “mom car,” or “mom clothes.” But it went deeper than surface level when I wondered if there was something wrong with me. My experiences were so different than those of my peers, and I didn’t want to stand out.
It was in this place that the love of my Heavenly Father met me. After confessing my insecurities to my husband and a close friend, my eyes were opened. Once again, I was attempting to find my worth in other people’s approval. Did it really matter if the other moms thought I was cool or had it all together? Did it really matter if I felt like I belonged and was just like them? Of course not.
“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” - Psalm 139:17-18 ESV
God whispered to me as I poured out my heart to Him. He helped me see that while I would not always be able to relate to every other mama, nor her to me, He sees me, knows me, and understands me. He created me with a desire for acceptance that could only be met in Him. And when I took a step back, I realized that all along, He held what I desired—the belonging that can only be found through resting in Him.
Now when I meet up with other mamas, I give thanks to God for the unique story He’s given me and the opportunity to share His faithfulness. Is my story different? Yes. But it’s beautiful, and it belongs to Him. Thank goodness He is the one writing it and not me.