When I became a ' Christian mum' I had high expectations of myself!
I would breastfeed easily and naturally as "God intended".
I would display the fruits of the Spirit at ALL times; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5: 22-23.
I felt that I should NEVER feel angry towards my child, NEVER feel sad and alone, ALWAYS be in control of myself, faithful to God, patient with my child, loving towards everyone.
Just where do these stereotypes and expectations come from? Ourselves, other Christians around us, we compare ourselves to what we perceive to be 'perfect' Christians around us.
If I am comparing then I failed miserably at being a new Christian mum! Breastfeeding did not come naturally at all to me or my newborn Jacob. It was agony, tearfilled, fumbling around in the dark of the night not knowing if he was getting any nutrition at all. The guilt I felt when switching to bottle feeding was awful. The midwives made you feel bad enough about it!
My fruit had gone bad!!! I felt ANGRY towards my baby, lonely, out of control, angry with God, avoided others and Church. This was how I felt in the midst of Post Natal Depression. I felt as if I was being judged by others as a mum and that my baby would be better off with someone else as their mum.
Women are fed images, ideas, and opinions of others on what a mother should be. It is the same as a Christian mother. Even in the Bible there is scripture which paints a scenario of a Godly woman, Proverbs 31. Something which I have discovered I should aspire to, but is used by some Christians in an all or nothing kind of way. I am not criticising God's word here just showing how it can be misused!
In the thick of mental illness I felt as far away as possible from a Godly woman! Did this make me less of a Christian than those around me? I don't know. I do know that God still loved me! Even when I felt far from Him, angry, and faithless He never stopped loving me. God knows that Christian mums come in all shapes and sizes. We are not Stepford wives. Our relationship with God is the key. I clung to God with my fingernails during this time. I still believed in my head even though my heart was aching.
There is no such thing as a 'perfect' mum. I think we actually need to remind ourselves of this fact. Even the most Godly mum makes mistakes! We mums beat ourselves up too much and place immense pressure on ourselves to be 'perfect' and Godly. While we should aspire to obey God, I think we need to be wary of getting bogged down in legalism about the ins and outs of playing the Christian mum. Surely it is our relationship with God through Jesus that is important.