How the Church Can Help Those Who are Grieving Motherhood

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In 2009, a mom calling herself Ann typed a secret confession on an online forum: “I am depressed. I hate being a mom. I also hate being a stay-at-home mom too!” The post has received over 2,400 comments, some added as recently as this year, ranking it as the highest viewed and commented confession on the site by far.

French author Corinne Maier echoed these sentiments in a recent essay for BBC Magazine. Parenthood left her “exhausted” and “bankrupt,” she says, and many readers agreed, writing in their own stories of regret over their decisions to have children.

These stories aren’t surprising, given that unintended pregnancies account for one-third of all children born in the United States. A secret confession like Ann’s could be anybody’s—even a Christian’s.

Reluctant motherhood

My own inauguration into motherhood was reluctant at best. Sitting on the bathroom floor in my Chicago apartment, I stared in shock at that fateful white stick. I never dreamed of being a mother, and certainly didn’t intend to become one under these circumstances: unmarried and unsettled, a recent college graduate with grandiose plans for the future.

A few years later, when I entered the church and encountered the redeeming love of Christ, I assumed that my initial struggles with motherhood were the result of life as an unbelieving single mother. Christian women welcomed children joyfully, it seemed; motherhood was one of the purest expressions of biblical womanhood. And to get to experience it alongside a husband? Magical.

Once I was married, I looked forward to a growing family and becoming a stay-at-home mom. But when I didn’t thrive in my new role, I panicked. Assaulted by the same fear and inadequacy I’d experienced as a single mother, I struggled to enjoy my children the way other smiling moms seemed to. We openly discussed our common burdens—sleepless nights and overflowing diapers—but I hid deeper struggles with motherhood like resentment, boredom, and resulting feelings of shame.

When my second daughter was just seven months old, I realized with devastation that I was pregnant again. Exhausted by a baby who wouldn’t accept a bottle or a full night’s sleep, I couldn’t imagine another pregnancy, much less another infant.

When I miscarried near the end of my first trimester, my grief was compounded with guilt for the surprising and unmistakable feeling that also lingered beneath the surface: relief.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Kendra Dahl

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