For years after Eowyn was born, I felt like the odd man out. My network of women included other stay-at-home moms for whom I was grateful, but I always struggled any time I expressed difficulty in this task of raising little ones. It seemed like my words were bouncing off the walls and coming back to me void; I was very lonely and unable to find others who could relate to my experience. As postpartum depression hit me hard, I found my new life as a mom to be suffocating, and while I certainly expected things to change after having kids and for there to be an abundance of inconvenience and adjustment, I did not anticipate the crushing weight of inescapable responsibility that came along with it.
Troubles with feeding meant I was my daughter’s only source of nutrients during those early months, a factor that, when combined with the absence of family support (since our families live across the country) and the mounds of unrealistic expectations I heaped on myself, left me feeling like a prisoner of my baby. She was my ball and chain, reliant upon me for everything, and it was overwhelming. It all felt like a horrible mistake.
A couple years passed, and these feelings never really went away, they only dulled. Everything dulled. I became used to this existence of just barely getting by, and coped with my feelings of disappointment in myself and my life by making jokes about being a “bad mom.” I never truly believed I was a bad mother, but the comparisons that are all too easily accessible in my Facebook and Pinterest feeds left me feeling like one hell of a failure.
Matters were made worse by my warped view of God during this time frame. My memory is faded a bit, but at some point in my journey, I stopped calling out to him for help. I began to view him as a taskmaster and the author of my pain, capable of providing relief yet choosing to push harder. Depression, chronic joint issues, fatigue, a struggling marriage, and a heart of stone – this was my lot, a fate to which I resigned myself, and though I was waiting to be freed from my pain, I did not expect it.
Over the last year, I’ve shared many of my struggles openly with you here on my blog. You’ve seen my ups and downs, and you know that God has been working in my heart in the last few months. He’s softening it as my eyes are being opened to serve those around me, and he’s recently blessed me with a women’s Bible study in which we are studying Ephesians 1 and 2. His word feels fresh and is a salve to my soul, and the ladies I’ve met there have been truly encouraging. Though I’ve been a Christian for nearly 20 years, this is a season of spiritual renewal for me in which the gospel is more refreshing than ever.
God’s timing is perfect, of course, and a few months ago, I became aware of a book entitled Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe written by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. The title alone was enough to convince me that I needed to read it, and I’m so glad I did! Coauthored by one woman who is older, having raised her children into adulthood, and the other who is just emerging from the crazies of having itty bitties in the home, it provides comfort and practical tips for those struggling in motherhood.
Unlike many books that offer a litany of to-dos that only serve to heap on more expectation and guilt, Desperate does the reverse. It acknowledges that as moms, we are tired. We love our families and have been pouring ourselves out for those in our charge, but we are just flat out exhausted. We are isolated, lonely, and longing for more. I know this isn’t the case for all mothers, but what a relief it was for me to finally hear a story that I could relate to! And what a blessing to not be told that I need to work harder.
The advice is simple yet unexpected: seek out mentorship with older women and friendships with like-minded peers; don’t stress about having a perfectly tidy house and hire a housekeeper if you need to and can afford it; step away from social media and engage with the community within your own home; get out of the house with your girlfriends; get a babysitter; purchase beautiful things and strive to create a life-giving environment at home; remember that Jesus is kind and cares about your trials. This book has reminded me that life isn’t all about tasks and duties. Our souls need to be fed, and rest and beauty are part of that. Whatever pressure we put on ourselves to do it all on our own is not founded in Biblical truth and is ultimately joy-stealing.
The biggest takeaway for me from this book is the understanding that as the keeper of my home, it’s my role to create a loving and desirable environment for those who enter. Hear me on this: I’m not talking about making everything Martha Stewart-perfect and impressing my friends with my amazing hostess skills, but rather being intentional to make people feel welcomed, loved, and nourished. This perspective changes everything so that even mundane tasks like cleaning can become joyful when there is a greater purpose in mind.
Further, this idea applies to not only my home but also to my heart. If I want my children to grow up with special memories, I must foster that. I must be the type of woman I want my children to become, and while that notion was previously accompanied by all manner of expectation, I now feel freed up to be a kid again. A fun day at the children’s museum is now more than simply passing the time, and occasions such as Valentine’s Day present an opportunity to intentionally delight in my kids and tell them so.
Overall, Desperate has been a breath of fresh air to this weary woman, and the ideas therein are changing my heart and my life. I can’t recommend it enough.
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large bowl, use a whisk or fork to combine the pastry flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two butter knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Use the back of a large spoon to push the dry mixture toward the edges of the bowl, creating a well in the center.
- In a separate small bowl, stir together the eggs, heavy cream, and cranberries, then pour in the mixture into the dry ingredients. Gently stir just until moistened (there will still be lots of dry spots).
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 10-12 times until the dough comes together and is nearly smooth (should look like the 2nd photo of this post). Pat the dough into an 8-inch disk, then slice it into 8 equal wedges.
- Place the wedges on a parchment-lined metal baking sheet, 1 inch apart, and bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden. Allow the scones to rest on the baking sheet for a minute or two, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla until smooth. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the glaze over the scones. Serve immediately or wait a few minutes if desired to allow the glaze to set.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Adapted quite a lot from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
Tips and Tidbits
- I hope you enjoy these scones as much as I do. I love that they are made with whole wheat flour, and the combination of spices and cranberries is not a typical combination for me, but I’m enjoying it! They are a bit more moist and less crumbly than the average scone (thanks to an extra egg), and paired with a cup of coffee or tea, I think you’ll agree that they are nothing short of scrumptious.
- Let’s talk substitutions! This recipes lends itself well to modification based on what’s in your fridge and pantry. A 50/50 split of whole wheat flour and unbleached all purpose flour works beautifully in place of the pastry flour, and raisins or any other dried fruit can be substituted for the cranberries (chopped dried apricots are next on my list!). Milk can be used instead of heavy cream in a pinch, but just make sure you reduce the amount of liquid by about a third or the dough will be quite wet and more difficult to work with.
Just so you know, a copy of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe was provided to me by the publisher at no charge. I have not been compensated to write this post. All opinions are my own.