Apple’s Story: Coping with the Emotional Challenges of Motherhood

“For a while, I was just like a gas-less boat in the middle of the sea, floating freely in no specific direction. I was hit hard by the waves left and right, one after another, and I was emotionally and mentally done.”

What is the essence of being a woman? An 18-year-old replied, “To be a woman is a gift of God that all of us must appreciate. The origin of a child is a mother, who is a woman. She shows a man what caring, sharing, and loving is all about. That’s the essence of being a woman.”

It is one of the popular questions in the history of the Miss Universe pageant and Sushmita Sen’s answer made her become the first Indian woman to win the title in 1994.

“The origin of a child is a mother, who is a woman” was the most striking line she ever said during the final round.

Certainly, motherhood is the richest experience in a woman’s life. 

It is the time she gets to discover the meaning of unconditional love and encounter the deepest love she will ever know.

As most first-time mothers testify, “It is the most magical feeling in the world.” To contain the fleeting moments of a child’s smile, first words, first walk, growth, and wonders is soul captivating.

Women can attest that motherhood is the most rewarding and worthwhile role in the world, at the same time, one of the hardest, most challenging, and emotionally draining one could experience.

Simply put, a mother’s life is not easy.

In reality, a woman is faced with the challenges of sleep deficiency, self-sacrifices, fatigue, and the emotional wear and tear of caring, nursing, and attending to the needs at home. 

According to 2007 research, 70% responded that motherhood today is harder and more difficult than it was in the 1970s or 1980s.

While the workplace provides regular days of rest, motherhood in modern times is fast-paced, like a marathon of daily responsibilities. It comes with the demands and stress of today’s technology, global crisis, and chaos.

Others deal with the multi-task role of performing a regular job, managing community work, while raising kids, and doing household duties.

Oftentimes, a mother’s personal time and space diminish.

While the role of being a mother defines the essence of being a woman, providing the exceptional feeling of joy, pride, and bliss, sometimes, it can also be a lonely path where the precious time for self is mostly given up. 

Moreover, it can almost feel like losing the sense of self as motherhood is constant and all-consuming. Such diminished time, energy, and space to engage with one’s self is a common struggle of today’s working mothers.

Apple Casupanan, a working mom in her 30s and a mother of three shares her personal battles, realizations, and the way she copes with the arduous reality of motherhood.

Unfiltered: Tired Mom

by Apple Casupanan

It was 9:00pm and the day was about to end. I feel my body wanting to pause and rest from the day’s demands. 

I longed for that quiet hour when everyone would be peacefully asleep in their beds, so I can finally have time for myself. 

Then I remembered that our four-year-old child was sick. Suddenly, the anticipation turned to a feeling of dread.

It was the third session of Alex’s medication within the day. Due to a very bad case of cough, she had to take antibiotics 3x a day for one long week, which actually seemed like forever. 

I picked her up from bed, and in an instant, she struggled against my hold. She breathed rapidly, whimpered quietly, and closed her eyes in fear. 

I knew exactly how she felt because I have been there countless times when I was her age too. 

I knew how she wanted out, and so I acknowledged her feelings. I tried to comfort her, promised that she would be fine, that all would be fine, but to no avail. 

As I was bringing the medicine spoon towards her, she pulled back with all her might, tightened her lips, and with all her strength fought against my will to insert the antibiotic syrup into her mouth. She kicked as I locked her in my arms. 

She pushed me away, bit my finger, and spit out the medicine. I refilled the spoon and everything went on repeat. More than 30 minutes of our time was used up for 5ml of antibiotics, and more than 10ml was put to waste in just one session. 

What was very easy for other children to do seemed impossible on our end, and it was wearing me out. 

Days before this, our second child just finished her agonizing month-long battle against pneumonia. And so, for almost two months, our home was in combat against sickness.

I witnessed how my children struggled physically each day and gradually lost weight. I witnessed how they begged away from their medicines and how their bodies gasped in need of rest. 

In each of those moments, I had no ability to either take their pain away or take them away from such a distressing route. I was powerless.

Even as I was a committed worship leader and a discipler in our church, I struggled. I was well aware of the truths of God and His promises, but my weak heart failed. 

I was right where David was in Psalm13 when he prayed “How long Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”

As a mother, I was pushed to the edge.  

I could not think straight. My body wanted to shut off. I found myself crying until I had no more tears. I have run out of words whenever I knelt and tried to pray. I couldn’t absorb words of comfort from family and friends who empathized with us.  

I felt nothing when I listened to songs and read through biblical passages that were meant to breathe life into me. 

For a while, I was just like a gas-less boat in the middle of the sea, floating freely in no specific direction. I was hit hard by the waves left and right, one after another, and I was emotionally and mentally done.

However, in my silence, numbness, and in distancing myself from all others, God held on faithfully. He was right with me, hearing my every cry, listening to my every plea. He waited until the eyes of my heart opened up to what He wanted me to see – that I needed to be broken again. 

In that situation, God broke the controlling, prideful mom in me who wanted to prove to the world that I had everything in our home under control. 

He broke the self-labeled stage I was confidently standing on so he could bring me back to His grace-filled stage where His Name was acknowledged, not mine.

In this trying time, I was led to a new experience of humility and surrender. 

I was made to remember that I did not own my child’s life, my family, and even my own. Only God did. 

I was made to remember that yes, I can try to excel in faithfully fulfilling my role as a mother and homemaker but I have no control over the trials, sicknesses, and battles that will come our way.

I was made to remember that He was God, He does good and He intends good for us always.

I was made to remember that our lives were meant for one main purpose—to proclaim His truth and power in whatever way He wills.

I still have battles along the way, and yes, I still cry out the desperate words of David, but now, with a different ending—one that re-declares hope and truth. 

With David, I shall always choose to say “I trust in Your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.”

Indeed, motherhood is not an easy role and with this, we appreciate mothers for who they are and what they do. However, words are sometimes not enough to appreciate them. 

Perhaps, a dinner treat or a new bag would help alleviate their stress. But most probably, a whole day or a 2-day and 1-night “me time” away from home would be the most refreshing treat for her.

If you are an emotionally tired mom, know that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. If it feels overwhelming, know that help is available. Like Apple, mothers can find solace and renewed strength in God’s living water. A time for self-care is also necessary. Moreover, engage in a safe place of community where you can walk together with other mothers who carry the burdens and celebrate the joys of motherhood with you.

Whether you are a stay-at-home or working-mom, know that every little thing that you do is a blessing at home and to many. Your role as a mother is worthwhile.

You are incredibly awesome.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:25-31

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