A Give Away! This Is Not How I Thought It Would Be!

“I read a book that I think you would love,” said a facebook message I got a bit ago. “I felt like I was having a conversation with you while I was reading it. Go check it out!”

The book my friend was talking about was This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today by Kristin Maschka.

On my facebook friend’s recommendation I purchased the electronic version of the book and started reading away on my iTouch. There were moments I teared up, moments I got mad and – the beautiful thing – moments I said, ah-ha!

Kristin’s book helped me identify and articulate some of the emotions I’ve experienced since becoming a mother. I felt a sense of kinship in realizing there were many other women around me who felt the same sense of conflict I felt trying to reconcile their professional persona with their maternal persona.

Some items caught my attention?

“No matter what baggage we carry, mothers today often feel we have to decide between our families and our ambitions. We sense that we can’t have both because our subconscious tells us that mothers are completely fulfilled by caring for family and mothers who are employed or pursue personal fulfillment are selfish. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for ambition. Should a ‘good’ mother be able to let go of ambition?”

“Mothers I talked to shared… a sense of loss… “I’ve somehow lost my ‘more.’ It got relegated to the back burner some time ago, and got replaced by the things my kids and husband are passionate about.’ As another mother described so well: ‘I felt my identity shrivel up and wither.'”

“A woman shared she had recently attended a career seminar in her field. She asked the people in attendance how to explain in an interview the fact that for three years she had been caring for her family and not employed. A colleague told her, “Tell them you’ve been in a coma. That way you’ll have better luck explaining why you haven’t been doing anything for the past three years.” Haven’t. Been. Doing. Anything?… I need to update my resume and I have two options:

Coma Patient (1999-2002) Responsible for lying in a hospital bed as machines breath for me, tubes feed me, and nurses bathe me.


Family Care Provider (1999-2002) Responsible for… everything!

You’re telling me I’m better off with the title Coma Patient? How is it possible that people can calmly assert that being in a coma – a coma! – is more productive, more contributing, more work than caring for a family?”

I ended up writing Kristin a note thanking her for putting her own struggles down on paper for other people to enjoy and take wisdom from. The book is an excellent tool to start examining my own feelings and perspectives – and then filter them through my own core beliefs in my responsibility and ability to do the job(s) that God has called me to do.

Kristin was so friendly and responded personally. She even offered me a book to give away to you, the Stealing Faith reader, for free!

It’s my first giveaway and I’m pretty excited about it!

So, here’s your job. You have one week to contribute a comment on this post. Next Sunday, Easter 2011, I’ll put the names of everyone who comments in a hat and have the ruffians draw the winner.

And that lucky winner will get a book from Kristen!

Isn’t that lovely?!

Tell me in the comments what parts of motherhood surprised you the most? Have you had conversations that parenting isn’t what you thought it would be with the significant women in your life?

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19 thoughts on “A Give Away! This Is Not How I Thought It Would Be!

  • April 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

    oh pick me!

    what surprised me most about motherhood? hmmm… everything. maybe specifically how overwhelming it can be to care for such a small creature.

  • April 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

    *Oh, please! Oh, please! Oh, please!* Thank you for this generous giveaway! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • April 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    How fun! Your first giveaway! One of the things that has been the most surprising about motherhood… hum… how my patience can wear thin to fast.

  • April 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I have talked with lots of women about being a mom, having a career, and pursuing a degree and seeking out how women before me have been able to balance/manage/make sense of what life (or God) has called them to be and the answer I find is there is no answer – they just do it.

    Welcome to my thought process for the last 6 months:

    Well I digress, they figure out their priorities and values and live life in alignment with them. Which I agreed with… until a little baby boy named Connor came along and rocked my world.

    Now that oh so fabulous PhD (the degree I need to advance) is not so fabulous. The idea of 40 hours a week at a job I loved isn’t so lovely- because all I want to do is stay at home and do arts and crafts and cook.

    But on the other hand I LOVE my career and I feel so called to do the work I do with students. How could I give that up?! I don’t want to be an assistant director for the rest of my life. And then am I being selfish because I like taking classes and like my job and some days am so thankful for daycare? (I feel guilty just writing this.)

    Oh and P.S. what about the 1000 things I have to do when I get home at night for Connor, Joe and not to mention me. And I want to do all of those things but wow, are there enough hours in the day? What happens when I work 8-5 and Connor is home at 3pm from school?

    Am I putting unrealistic expectations on myself? Is it really possible to love your career and love your family? Why does it seem so much easier for Joe? Is this the glass ceiling women talk about? Is it okay to love some of the traditional gender role things about motherhood even though I consider myself to be a feminist?

    Whew. Sigh. I don’t know if that is what you were looking for but thank you for giving me a place to share what’s been stuffed up inside of my head. In my conversations with other moms – we’re all struggling for the answers to the same things. And have nothing to offer except we just do it because we love what we do- all of it.

    This book sounds like something that is right up my alley for now and planning for the future. Somebody else may be more in need of it than I am so I’ve already added it to my Amazon wish list as a back up ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Amy – all I can say is “I get it!” It’s reassuring that more than one person is asking these questions! I don’t have answers either, but boy would I like to go out for a cup of coffee with you to try to figure it out!

    • April 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm

      Amy –
      What a great job you did describing the push/pull, back and forth, yes or no, conversations we have in our own heads about all this. One of the many things that shocked me was that I wanted to spend more time with my daughter than a 40-50 hr a week job would allow – and so did my husband! Yikes. I hope my book helps make sense of where those dueling voices in our heads come from so you can tamp them down to make decisions that are right for you.
      Kristin Maschka

  • April 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I can’t wait to hear about your thoughts concerning this book and your latest decisions…

  • April 20, 2011 at 11:41 am

    When I think back to my pre-marriage and early-marriage ideas of parenthood, I laugh at my naivety. First of all, I envisioned two boys (my husband is a rancher, therefore, sons are coveted), and myself as the queen of the castle. I imagined sending the boys off to work with their daddy or to school, and my days spent in unending hours of self-indulgence. Giggle. giggle…

    I married after high school, and a bachelor’s degree masters degree later, David and I have three daughters. David is a trustworthy provider, a wonderful father, and a calm, reasonable, reassuring counterpart to my Type-A, high maintenance, often emotional personality. The girls go to classical Christian school, take gymnastics, and are learning the ranching way of life from their daddy–complete with chores, horseback riding, and rodeos. Life should be completely perfect.

    When my three girls were younger, I think the isolation of living on a ranch with no “peer moms” and the sheer exhaustion of motherhood often got the better of me.

    Now, as they grow older, I am acutely aware of my daughters’ individual personalities. I somehow expected my daughters to be exactly like me and want what I want. But somewhere in the middle of their constant bickering and neediness, and the pressure of making decisions that will shape their future, I feel a little disillusioned.

    My biggest struggle right now is with my oldest daughter. She has disabilities, both learning and physical. Her medical issues are challenging, but more challenging for me are her problems in school. Her dispassionate attitude towards school and lackadaisical work ethic leaves me very frustrated. As a classic overachiever, I have always loved school, excelled at school, and had always expected my children to possess that same love and achieve at the same level. I often feel her failings as mine.

    Not only am I a working mom, I also have been in school nearly the entire time I have been a parent. I am now working on my doctorate, and I struggle with the family/work/studies balance. I always feel that I am shortchanging one part of my life or another. I adore my family, and really enjoy homemaking–mothering, cooking, cleaning, organizing, crafting, gardening, etc, etc. And on a ranch, there is never a shortage of projects or work to be done. But I have such an intense passion for working and for Christian education. I feel as though a part of me would die if I quit completely to care for my family. So here I am, stuck between the rock of my family, the hard place of work, and the even harder place of doctoral studies. And in the mist of it all, I often feel that I am neglecting myself, physically, emotionally, and sometimes spiritually. This is not how I thought it would be!

    Often people remark that they “don’t know how I do it all,” or they “so respect me for all I have accomplished,” or “appreciate the example I set for other young women.” But if they could see inside me, they would see a terrified girl who is deathly afraid of letting one of the carefully juggled balls drop.

    I often think to myself, “Why in the world would God trust ME with such precious gifts? I am not prepared or skilled for this.”

    Don’t get me wrong, my daughters are the joy and love of my life, and I would not trade any of them for the entire world. And I thank God daily for the talent and opportunities he has given me. But I don’t think I ever imagined parenting would be this challenging.

    Whew! That was cathartic. I apologize for the novel-length of my comment!

    • April 20, 2011 at 7:35 pm

      Well, you’ve certainly done an excellent job explaining why the book title ended up being “This is Not How I Thought It Would Be!” : )
      I think a lot of us (myself included) feel conflicted when people say ” i don’t know how you do it” because it all feels so fragile and we always feel something isn’t getting the attention it “should” have. Part of conquering that is understanding where those “shoulds” come from and remodeling those beliefs.

  • April 20, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I don’t think it is just motherhood that isn’t as I thought it would be. Marriage isn’t how I thought it would be. Being an adult isn’t always how I thought it would be. Sometimes…it is better. But, usually it is just exhausting. I relate to KatC.

    I am also in school and working and trying to raise my kids (two boys), the youngest one isn’t quite 10 weeks old. It didn’t seem fair that I only got to spend the first 9 weeks of his life home with him before I had to go back to work.

    But the absolute hardest part was being with him in the hospital for 16 days, starting when he was five weeks old. I wish someone had told me when I was begging for an epidural during delivery (and not getting one) that it was going to be the easy part. Having to watch a doctor put a tube down my little baby’s throat so that he could breathe was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. I would have given birth without an epidural a thousand times rather than go through that experience. Heck, I would have been eternally pregnant…and if you know me, you would know that there is nothing I find more miserable than being pregnant. Except watching your kid struggle to breathe and not being able to do anything about it.

    So, lately, I have been really conflicted. I still want to be with my baby, but after everything we have been through in his short little life, complaining about having to work a few days a week, and get my studies and homework completed, hardly seems worth worrying about.

    • April 20, 2011 at 10:56 pm

      With everything you’ve been through it’s easy to see how your perspective on life suddenly changes… you’ve been so strong because you’ve had to be.

      And you’re a great mom. For what it’s worth.

  • April 20, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Okay, well, I am just going to throw this out there as well.

    As a Christian woman, I am trying to find the balance between my selfish desires and those of his desires for my life. I want to teach; I want to further my education; I want to collaborate with other teachers/professionals as they pour into my children. But, are those MY selfish desires that I have to look past in order to fulfill what God has in my life?

    I realize that we must each answer this for ourselves as God calls us to many different things. However, as women, why would he call us to fill our plates until they are so full we have to juggle in order to balance the weight? Are we fulfilling our own selfish desires and thereby missing his calling for us with our children because we have decided to pursue too much-too much outside of his will?

    How do I decide what are my selfish desires as opposed to his desires for my life?

    And, if he would rather I be home with my children, raising and home schooling them, why did he give me desires to do the other aspects of me that require my attention and time elsewhere?

    That’s where my brain is lately…

    • April 20, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      As simple and as difficult as this sounds… I guess we have to first rest assured in God’s perception and view of us. Period. We aren’t trying to prove we’re the greatest mom or the greatest worker or the greatest wife.

      We’re just us. Exactly like God made us.

      And then we figure out how we’re going to spend the 24 hours each day we’ve been given. We make decisions about what we feel God has called us to do. We figure out how to role model being a female to our daughters.

      One of the things I really appreciated about this book was that Kristin separated out the many roles we play in our lives and how those roles were defined and fleshed out by unspoken expectations.

      When you see them written out, it doesn’t make as much sense to hold on to some of them. Others… well seeing them laid out shows you that they’re valuable and in line with God’s will for your life…

  • April 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Since childhood, I couldn’t wait to become a wife and mother. I did well in school, but couldn’t wait to graduate and get on with my true calling in life. I also hated working and looked forward to the day that I could be a stay at home mom.

    I went to the local community college while working part-time and then full-time. I only completed 2 years because I got married and we moved. I still worked though.

    Two years after we got married, we had our first child and I was at last living my dream! I have been a stay at home mom since January 2002. I have a 9, 7 and 2-1/2 year old and am pregnant with baby #4. My husband and I both come from families with 4 kids and felt that was what we wanted for our family as well.

    I’ve tried to look at motherhood as my career. There are so many responsibilities that I often wonder how I would be able to do half of what I do if I also worked outside the home. I enjoy being a stay at home mom and I do feel that this is where God wants me to be.

    I guess I don’t really understand how moms could not want to stay home to raise their kids full time because that has always been my ambition. I also don’t understand why people would choose to have kids and then keep them in daycare 40 hours a week just to keep a career. I do realize that for some families it is necessary for both parents to work. But I’m talking more about the parents who appear to be more wrapped up in hanging on to their careers than raising their kids.

    I have been blessed with a husband who makes enough for me to stay home with our kids. We are by no means rich financially, but we have tried to be good stewards with what God has provided. Going through Financial Peace University was amazing in helping us to live within our means on one income.

    One thing that I do struggle with however, is who am I outside of being a wife and mother? I’m still trying to figure that one out.

    • April 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm

      I love your perspective, Erin!

      Since I have spent so much of my life in the academic world I tend to overanalyze and think things to death. What I love is that you are able to say – I’ve always known what I wanted to do. I’ve made sacrifices to do it and it’s worth it!

      We all have a need to sit fully in our present tense while moving confidently toward our future.

      (Whoa, did that make sense? It did in my head when I thought it but may miss the mark as it’s written!)

      What has been helpful to me is the knowledge that our roles DO change over our lives. I just had a conversation with my dad, who is 83 this year about this. He’s still figuring out who he is.

      He’s got the big pieces finished and doesn’t sweat as much small stuff as I do, but he still has challenges as he faces life as a man who is legitimately elderly…

      Just gets me thinking… these are the right questions to be asking…

    • April 21, 2011 at 12:20 am

      I think motherhood has a big impact on our identity – the who am I now? hit me like mack truck. I was 32 when we had our daughter – i had a lot invested in who I was before we had her, and I suddenly felt like I was in a life that was not my own somehow. I had to really work hard to get eventually to a point where I felt like me again. Different, but me.

      I have a blog post on this topic that is pulled from that section of the book that you might like.


  • April 22, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Having fallen madly in love (without even looking for it – that’s a whole other story, over coffee), dated, planned a royal wedding during a five month engagement, happily married for nine years and five beautiful blessings later…I’ve discovered that Patience is a badge to wear proudly! Now don’t get me wrong, there are days I don’t even get a glimpse of that virtuous badge. Somedays it feels as though the earth has tipped slightly too far on it’s axis and my five little ones have devised a plan that one by one they will give me a run for their money. I am amazed how flawlessly they can accomplish this without stepping on the others toes. It’s like chaos…peace…chaos…peace…chaos…peace. If this takes place prior to mommy grinding her fresh caramel enhanced coffee beans, brewing that mood enhancing roast and savoring that first sip of joe, then watch out world…trying to get even the slightest glimpse of that Patience badge is going to be an obstacle.
    I don’t think I’ve painted my toenails in almost four years, the last time my husband and I went to a movie was in 2000 – no joke! I used to be able to read a novel in hours, now it takes days and sometimes weeks. On occassion I am granted the opportunity to wear a shoe with a heel – given the right invitation – it’s not easy to chase five little ones in anything higher than 1/2-inch. It has taken me almost eight years to lose 77lbs. of excess pregnancy weight gain, perfume of choice used to be RL Romance, now it seems to be whatever pretty colored, nice scented bottle one of our three princesses tags me with as we’re walking out the door. Not to mention a touch of baby spit-up on the shoulder or left over munchy from a fabulous win-the-world-over, mommy-why-are-you-leaving-me HUG!
    I always wanted to be a mother. I even journaled many moons ago when I was a carefree little girl in pigtails, that I would marry and have either five or six children. Hmmmm….I even documented the genders in a certain order and would you believe it happened. God’s will is strong or maybe it was just my praying each night. So I have been blessed with my five beautiful angels and a loving husband. However, I neglected to ask God for the patience and guidance needed as a parent. Every day is a test, sometimes I succeed and others I lay my head upon my pillow and cry. Then I ask myself why did I react that way, why did I I say this or that, will my angels love me in the morning just as much as they did the day before? Being a parent is definitely the most rewarding job and the most defeating job. You are the dictator, the teacher, the personal chef, playmate, best friend, enemy, tour guide, counselor, mediator, nurse, financial guru, tutor, nanny, limo driver…the list is never ending. We are not rewarded with monetary means, but with miles of smiles, endless laughter, warm hugs and sloppy kisses. Maybe I don’t remember who I am, or who I was before, but I do know that where I am at this moment in my life, is what God has planned for me. I am meant to be a mother.

    • April 22, 2011 at 12:11 am

      So beautiful! What a sweet glimpse of life doing what you are called to do!

  • April 26, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    In grappling with my new role of Mommy of 4, during one conversation, my husband said: “You’re all they’ve got.” As I’ve mulled over his intent, it’s been a good thought to ponder.

    It’s true. God sent me these children, and despite the wealth of inadequacies made manifest in the refining fire of parenthood- I’m their Mother. I’m who they’ve got. And God trusts me to nurture them, care for them, and love them to the best of my ability. No, I’m not perfect. But I must remember how blessed I am to have these children in my life, and do all I can. Then leave it in His hands.


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