I was 21 when I became a mother. I was a senior in college. And I was newly married. I think that’s when it started. Those feelings of inadequacy. I felt shame, regret, humiliation, and worst of all…I felt I wasn’t adequate enough to be a mother.
When my daughter was two months old I finished my degree and my husband and I decided that I was going to stay at home. It was something that I’d always dreamed of doing when I was a kid, my mom was a stay-at-home mom and so it only felt natural for me to go in that direction, but when the time came I felt unprepared. I was supposed to start my career; supposed to use my well earned degree for a higher purpose, but instead I jumped right into motherhood.
I didn’t have very many other mommy friends, as you can imagine, so I decided to join my church’s mom group. I was so excited at the prospect of finding some form of community and enthusiastically committed. When I arrived I quickly recognized the significant age difference and felt immediately uncomfortable. “I’m too young,” I thought.
“They’re going to see right through me.”
“They’re probably wondering why I’m not working instead.”
“I don’t have my life together like they do, I’ve not even been married for a year.”
“Oh no, are they going to ask me when I got married and do the math that Rozalyn was conceived out of wedlock?”
These are all the very real, very scary thoughts I had when I entered that room. I didn’t match up. I didn’t even compare. How was I going to relate to a bunch of middle aged moms that seemed to have it all together, when I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of bed some days.
I immediately began to doubt my worth and my capability as a young stay-at-home mom. Fear gripped me at the grocery store, in the McDonald’s playplace, at the park, and in my home. AM I DOING ENOUGH? Should I feel this lonely? If so, maybe I should start working instead?
I became a victim to the enemy’s quiet lies and they drained me. In every way, the enemy stripped me from identifying as a mother for fear of what others might think. During my first year of motherhood, I clung to this image of perfection…always trying to display the “shiny” side of motherhood when really I was so lonely, so desperate, and so lost.
In the summer of 2014, I continued to battle these feelings of inadequacy, so much so that it began spilling into our marriage. I remember one night, sitting in the darkness of my bedroom, crying out to the Lord, and hearing Him say, “It is finished Tessa, your feelings of inadequacy were nailed to the cross and it is time for you to rise up and become the mother that I have uniquely designed you to be. There is no one like you, and you will be the voice to young moms everywhere.”
The moment was short but the message was clear. We are ALL designed for a unique purpose as mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and it is because of the cross that we can leave our feelings of hopelessness aside and come before one another with boldness and strength. We each have a story to tell…young or old…and it is because of our differences that we can hold firm to the promises of our Father.
“She is clothes with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31: 25-26