I am really embarrassed to admit this, but when I picture myself as a pregnant woman in a doctoral program, I long to be like Elizabeth Banks’ character on 30 Rock, Avery. In case you’re unfamiliar with the show, Avery is the girlfriend (later wife) of Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack. She is a kick-butt news correspondent who has her entire life under control. She wakes up every morning at the crack of dawn to run, eats exactly 1200 calories a day, and is so organized that her closet has been featured in magazines. She is a take-no-prisoners kind of gal.
Then, she discovers that she is unexpectedly pregnant. For just a moment she wavers in her confidence, but Jack encourages her to push forward and she rises to the challenge. She resolves to dominate pregnancy and motherhood the way she does everything else in her life. And she does.
I really want to be like that. I also suspect some people look at me and assume I am like that. A lot of friends have expressed amazement that I have pushed through my coursework without missing a beat, even amidst the crazy physical changes of pregnancy. My husband often tells people I am like Superwoman.
Of all the affirmations, I appreciate my husband’s the most because he knows me, warts and all, and he is still proud of me. But to be honest with you, I rarely feel like Superwoman. Most days I feel weak and pretty scared.
Today was one of those days.
Today one of my papers was returned to me by a professor who asked me to chop the paper in half. He said he had made an announcement in class in which he changed the paper length from the one listed in the syllabus. He asked me to re-work what I had submitted, and this was a real wrench in my plans.
Up until now I have been diligent to stay on top of my school work because I want to do as much as possible before the baby arrives. In fact, I turned in this particular paper a couple weeks early so that I could begin my summer work. I can’t afford to let the assignments pile up, and I felt really good about how well I was managing it all. I had worked hard on that paper and checked my class notes to confirm the paper requirements. For some reason I have no record of the syllabus change.
When I received my professor’s note, a part of me thought, “Why couldn’t you just read the paper? I’m pregnant for Pete’s sake! Can’t you give me a break?” Of course, that wouldn’t be fair and I shouldn’t expect preferential treatment, but I just felt so frustrated. After all, I had been on top of things. I had checked and double-checked my syllabus and notes. I had turned it in early! I was being a good student!
Between this setback and the failure of my glucose test, I’ve been feeling very unlike Superwoman. Add to it the fact that my belly is getting huge and my ab muscles are apparently “ripping apart” now, so they ache all the time. Any illusion I had of being an Avery-esque pregnant woman is slipping away.
In the middle of my discouragement, I know that God is at work. In addition to the fact that I have many blessings to thank Him for (not the least of which is being pregnant in the first place), Scripture is very clear that Christians can embrace weakness. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul welcomes weakness as an opportunity for God’s power to be made perfect in im.
Yes, I do know the truth about Christian weakness, even if I don’t feel it right now. But instead of running from the pain of weakness by rushing toward the good news about it, I think I may need to sit in my weakness for awhile. Clearly this is a lesson that God desires to teach me since it is a recurring theme, so I may need to dwell on it and explore it further. This is only a minor setback and I will get through it, but I don’t want to miss God’s voice in the process. He is speaking to me, and in His goodness He is reminding me that I am a good creation, but I am also a fragile one. And that is ok.