I remember looking through old photo albums with my mom the first time I realized she didn’t have a single picture of my father holding me when I was a baby. When I asked why, she said he was so sick by the time I was born that he wouldn’t let her take his picture. I was in my twenties when this conversation happened. Isn’t it odd that so many years had passed before I realized no picture existed of my father and me? I suppose since he died when I was a baby, the image of me having a father was just so foreign to me that I didn’t expect to see it, not even in Kodak.
By the time I was two, my mom had remarried, and we became a his-hers-and-ours household. Now, I know this works for some families. After all, I grew up watching The Brady Bunch. Mike and Carol Brady figured it out. But our family, not so much. We moved to a different state hours away from my grandparents where my brother and I were the step children, and we were often reminded of that in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. So we walked on eggshells in a household where we didn’t belong and where criticism and discipline reigned. I remember my mom whispering when she tucked me in one night, “You know I’m on your side.”
So, on my wedding day, when it was time to walk down the aisle, the thought that kept running through my head was how weird it felt to have my hand tucked into the bend of my step-dad’s arm, how odd it was to actually touch him. And when the question was asked, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”—and he responded—“Her mother and I do”… all I could think was when was I ever yours to give away?
So, baggage? Yeah, I have a whole set. The main piece was growing up without a father, but along the way I managed to pick up the carry-on, the garment bag, the duffel. I have baggage. But don’t we all? Our baggage might look different—rejection, failure, guilt, not being smart enough, athletic enough, pretty enough, lovable enough. Fill in the blank. But it’s all the same.
Moms, we’ve got some important decisions to make about our baggage. What are we going to do with it? Because baggage doesn’t just hang around unnoticed. We trip over it, and it affects everything—the choices we make, the jobs we do, the people we love.
When Rusty and I were expecting our first baby, I told him, “You have to be the father I never had.” That was my baggage, and I was pushing it onto my hubby with expectations that weren’t fair to him. (Although, since one man didn’t exist and the other was a tyrant, maybe the standards weren’t so high after all?) Still, it wasn’t fair.
It’s not easy to let go of our baggage, is it? It’s been with us so long it’s part of us. Maybe we even kind of like our baggage. Why else would we keep holding on to it? I wonder if we secretly think…
“I have designer baggage. It’s cost me a lot. Like Louis Vuitton. See here? It even has my monogram!”
“My baggage is tragically beautiful. It’s Plum Crazy, my favorite Vera Bradley print. I like looking at it.”
“Oh, my baggage isn’t that heavy. Really. It has those four spinner wheels on it. Super convenient and easy to roll everywhere I go!”
We might have all kinds of reasons for holding on, but you know what I’ve discovered?
If I’m carrying baggage, it’s difficult for me to move forward while I’m dragging weight behind me.
If I’m carrying baggage, I can’t wrap my arms around the people I love and squeeze them close because there it is–the baggage–wedged between us.
If I’m carrying baggage, I can’t raise my hands in praise and thankfulness. Oh, I can raise them…but not too high, and not too long, because my junk is HEAVY!
But most damaging of all, if I’m carrying baggage, I might pass it on to my children. Because that happens. Baggage can look a lot of different ways when it’s passed on to our kids.
- A mom who was unpopular in high school might push her child to be popular—at any cost.
- A mom who never felt good enough might expect perfection from her son.
- A mom who felt unloved might encourage girl/boyfriend relationships much too soon.
- A mom who felt unattractive might encourage her daughter to be too attractive too young.
To be honest, some of us are carrying baggage that was handed down to us, aren’t we?
So how much are we willing to carry? For how much longer? At what cost?
Whoa! This post has become a little “heavy” (pun intended). We need some comic relief. Check out this short video…kind of cute, kind of funny, kind of disturbing. But it kind of reminds me how I act sometimes when I don’t want to deal with heavy things.
How different would The MOM Journey be if we weren’t taking our baggage with us?
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
That “soar on wings like eagles”–I really like that–but it’s hard to soar when we’re saddled with weight. Tell you what…
I’ll put down my baggage if you’ll put down yours. It’ll be easier that way to walk this journey together.