Hi. Wife, Boymom, Writer, Jr High Confirmation Teacher, Creative Thinker, Outdoor lover here.
All those things describe me, but lately, most of those have taken a back seat. And that’s left me a little disquieted.
Two really big things happened in my life. I bet you can guess one because it happened to all of us.
Quarantine shut down not only our world but parts of ourselves. I know you have felt this. Not always blatantly, but it comes out in conversations I hear from friends and people around our world. We are NOT feeling normal.
My number two big change: 10 days into quarantine, on my middle son’s 8th birthday we found out we were pregnant.
With our fourth.
A complete unplanned surprise.
A year ago at this time we had talked about how 3 was our number and we were going to make it official. But you know how that works right? We know how that works. We just continued to live our life and God blessed us with the fourth I had always wondered about.
BAM! Not done.
Have any of you had an identity crisis? Sometimes people call it a midlife crisis or maybe more a crisis due to trauma. I don’t know that I am in crisis mode, but I will say I have been in an identity whirlwind for most of this quarantine. I struggled in the beginning with the idea of quarantine, but started to understand the need to flatten the curve as info came out. I’m an extroverted, non-germaphobe, who loves to be spontaneous and march to the beat of her own drum. I’m not opposed to planning, joining the crowd for certain things, time by myself (as if!) or washing hands. All have a place and are needed. But none of these things come natural to me, and I had to come to terms with what I assumed was going to be a lengthy time ahead.
When God threw new baby in the mix, holy moly, it just stirred my pot even more. My husband and I, on the evening we found out, sat down and wrote out our fears on paper about doing this all over again. I expected his list to be long and heavy. It turns out, mine was longer and I had been the one that was never really sure we were done. His had to do with work and finances and my career on hold again. All things I expected and knew. You know what the first thing I wrote was?
“Losing my boymom identity.”
I think I even caught my hubby a little off guard with that one. Not because he didn’t expect it but because it was something he saw as manageable. Less scary.
But let me explain myself a little more deeply. This was something I grew into. I have been known to say, it’s all I never knew I wanted. When we had our first, we did the surprise thing. Ready with a few names for either a boy or girl, we found out his gender when he was born. When we found ourselves pregnant again a year later, we decided to find out at the mid- pregnancy ultrasound. Why? Because I needed to know then I wasn’t having a girl to rid myself of any disappointment before the birth. And when our third came along, we found out again for the same reason. I was hoping for a girl, but would be happy with either. After 3 boys in 4 years, we took a break. A nod of thanks to the one in charge there.
It took me no time once they were all here, to take on the identity of boymom. Our pediatrician would even come into the patient room and say “I love boyworld,” when he’d see my 2 year old hanging off the sink wearing only a diaper and the 4 year old spinning around on the doctor’s stool while I was nursing the baby.
Not only does boymom describe me, but it is a group I find comfort with. My mother-in-law is a boymom of 4, and all her boys have boys. That’s right! All boy cousins on that side, one every year for 8 years. I have friends who I bond and commiserate with over disgusting bathrooms, wrestling, constant competition and getting them to SIT for dinner. This has nothing to do with a lack of love for girls. And some of this may even describe your girls. But you just bond so closely with those in similar situations, right?
As my boys grew, I grew into loving all that it entailed. Busy, rambunctious and full of adventure described them quite well. I think the great part is, some of those things can describe me too. So watching and guiding them through early life became a sort of solidifying of who I was. Some of it I knew about myself already, and some of it brought a whole new side of me to learn and grow through. I was a boymom and have been a proud supporter of the “Boymom” company out there that makes hats and shirts and sweatshirts.
This is why I wrote what I did at the top of my fear sheet that night. I have grown into a role that I didn’t know existed for me. I knew motherhood was something I wanted, but boymom is a special little niche I took on. I had started to think, if we ever got pregnant again, I’m pretty sure I’d be rooting for a boy, because it’s what I love and am comfortable with. God has brought me so much joy in this identity.
But much like the quarantine, identity can abruptly change throughout life. Why? Because circumstances change. Maybe you moved away from a town you loved, and you are struggling to find joys around this new place. Maybe you were forced out of a job that was perfect for you and are now facing uncertainty of the next steps and who you are apart from that role. Maybe you always considered yourself able to roll with the punches but find yourself ready to pull out hair at this time. Maybe all you once trusted and leaned on is shaky at best.
In the past when working with youth and talking about identity, I have found it can be exciting to help them grasp and understand parts of themselves and learn about what really makes them tick. It’s like discovering the work of art God made in each of us. But because we are human, even we must grow and change. So if we can’t even trust that to stay put then what are we to do?
Identity isn’t just about who we are, it’s about whose we are.
When I get to know myself and then circumstance or feelings change, I can head very quickly into a pool of anxiety, wondering what in the world is happening.
When I understand that I belong to Jesus and am his dearly loved and forgiven child, that…THAT lasts forever. The world and even my feelings can go through ebbs and flows that threaten to take away things I’ve always known and loved, but STILL– I am a dearly loved and forgiven child of God. To know something doesn’t change in this ever-changing world, and right now, ever-changing minute–it brings me a lot of peace.
Knowing this also helps me worry less about losing parts of myself, and see that growing sometimes necessitates this very action. In the Bible the prophet John the Baptist says this simply as he shares about Jesus “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30)
I appreciate the time God gave me to hide out during this first trimester (when things are not so good for me anyway) even if it felt quite rotten to be holed in at times. I don’t love all the shifting in this world, nor do my kids. It’s hard to live in a time where we can’t make plans or simply be around people we love. My husband and I prayed that night over our fears and gave them to God. An attempt to make Him greater and give our future-blind eyes peace. Within the week after that prayer, my fear turned to wondering about what it might be like to have a girl for these 3 crazy and sweet boys.
Until we find out about our little one, until the day I can again roam the earth and walk up to someone without worrying about 6ft of distance, and until the day I’m with Jesus in eternity, I can rest my heart and mind knowing I’m His no matter what might change.
*Boymom is just one part of my identity that I’ve struggled with as part of being pregnant. Bringing a baby into the world at any time is an exciting and nail-biting event. As one prepares, the body changes, and the mind reels, we have to remember how very precious this child is to the Creator. And he, in his infinite wisdom, chose me at this time to be a caretaker for his special child. As I look at the changes ahead for our family, I try to keep this at the helm. Not only am I God’s child, but the little one I carry is his child. Encourage the scared pregnant mamas out there with this news because it can be an especially challenging time to bring life into the world.