When I was pregnant with Eve, I was all about child-related reading. Books on parenting, unschooling and homeschooling, newborn care, child development, elimination communication, sleep cycles -- I devoured as many as I could get my hands on.
This time around, however, things are different. It's been really, really hard to get myself to read any baby-related books at all.
Much of this is due to fear. I had read and prepared for Eve's arrival the best that I could -- and then she died. So it feels wrong to pick those same books that I was in the middle of at the time of her death now. I know that there's probably a lot of superstition motivation behind it, but even knowing that doesn't make it any easier.
But not reading makes me feeling like a terrible mother. It's a tough spot -- reading parenting books makes me feel like I'm condemning our rainbow to the same fate as Eve, and not reading makes me feel like I must not care enough about him to prepare for his arrival.
I can't win this battle against my own mind.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with another babylost mama who is also pregnant with her rainbow right now, and the topic of books came up. She told me that she wasn't reading many parenting books for the same reasons that I've been doing the same. She said that she's been giving her the space and grace to not put herself through the mental and emotional ordeal of reading now, to make this pregnancy as least stressful as possible.
When she shared that, I felt an immense rush of freedom. I don't have to be a parenting-book-reading powerhouse! I don't have to be perfect, to perform perfectly (and really, isn't "perfection" relative?). I can be the broken, anxious, carefully hoping woman that I have become. No forced reading required.
I wonder if this seems like a trivial, silly thing to be concerned with. But it has been a heavy weight upon me -- a weight that is now lifted.
So instead of forcing myself to frog march through books on parenting that I now know too well I might never get to put to use, I am reading books that serve me in this season. Books on pregnancy after a loss. Books on faith. Books on God and doubt and fear and sorrow. Books that lead me along the path I am currently walking, not a future path that my feet have not quite come to.
I will one day return to the parenting books. But I'm not ready yet. I will be, one day, perhaps sooner than I expect. But now I know that it's okay to let those books alone, and so I am.
Have you ever given yourself permission to not be perfect? How did it go?
For the curious, here are the books that I have been reading lately (yes, there are a few parenting books, but only the ones that feel nourishing):
- Pregnancy After a Loss by Carol Lanham
- Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell
- You're Already Amazing by Holly Gerth (this is not as self-help-y as it sounds)
- Building the Christian Family You Never Had by Mary Demuth
- Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott (love her work!)
- Digging Deep: Get to the Root of You by Tara Wagner (this one's an e-book)