I have had the good fortune recently to get to know Sue McRoberts, author of The Lifter of My Head: How God Sustained me during Postpartum Depression, and 1/3 of the blogging team at Totally New Moms. The following are 10 questions I emailed to her and the responses I received. Enjoy!
(As a side note, interviews with Arlene and Rebecca from Totally New Moms will be arriving shortly as well!)
1) When did you become a Christian and what has helped to solidify or sustain your faith over the years?
I became at Christian at the age of 8 but I didn’t really understand it until I was 14. In college I started really living out my faith. What has solidified my faith is God’s faithfulness. He’s always done what he says in scripture he will do. Seeing God’s consistency and compassion has sustained me.
2) What made you decide to write your book, The Lifter of my Head: How God Sustained Me through Postpartum Depression?
I went to a local Christian bookstore, looking for a book on postpartum depression from a Christian’s perspective. There was no such book on the shelf. After doing some research no one at the store could find such a book on the Internet either. The clerk suggested to me that I should go home and pray about whether or not perhaps God wanted me to write that book. At first I thought that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard. God gave me no peace until I started writing!
3) What kind of process did you go through to write your book? What part was the most difficult to write?
Writing from beginning to end what happened to me during my PPD experience was excruciating. I wrote 95% of my book while I was sick. I wrote the book as these things were actually happening. Only editing was done while I was well. I cut about 35,ooo words from my final manuscript. I had a lot I wanted to share! The process itself was simple. I had a brainstorming notebook I constantly wrote in. I wrote constantly when ideas would come. Sometimes at 3 a.m I would do my best writing and thinking. For me the toughest part was describing the darkest parts of my illness. I wrote the whole thing in faith that God wanted me to do it. But I never believed for one second that anyone would relate to my experiences with psychosis. I was wrong! Other than that, reading the book in it’s entirety for the audio CD’s was a nightmare. It’s one thing to write it and edit it over 6-8 months. To read it in 5 hours was tough emotionally. Hearing those words come out of my own mouth about broke me.
4) Prior to Motherhood, what was the main focus of your life?
I was a teacher and a coach. My students were my life. I miss teaching and coaching so much that it’s difficult to express that emptiness in my life. I’ve filled that with a great husband, three kids, and much ministry but boy do I miss it.
5) What is the hardest part of Motherhood? The easiest?
The hardest part of motherhood for me is having strong willed kids only to discover that maybe I’m strong willed too. That can be volatile so I’ve learned to be a little more passive and easy going. What else is hard for me is that I can’t make them choose the right things in life. I can only guide them and that is scary. I’ve learned to guide them and pray for them but let God take the reigns. It freaks me out to much to try to control these little people. They aren’t puppets. I was shocked when I discovered that!
The easiest part for me is playing with my kids. I love pitching baseball to them, kicking a soccer ball, riding bikes. My five year old can’t stand when I want to work on reading or math with him. He sees me as his soccer pal. So playing is a very important thing in our house.
6) How has becoming a Mother changed you? Has it strengthened your faith in God?
I have three strong willed kids, all of which have worn me out at times. I’ve learned to focus on what really matters and know what those things are that I will battle on and which ones aren’t so important. Strong willed kids will get in your face no matter what though. They love a fight and a challenge. So I have had to rely on God for strength, creativity in parenting, rest, and most of all some grace for my kids. It has strengthened my faith in God tremendously. When my first child got her first spanking at 18 months she looked at me and said, “Is that all you’ve got?” I knew I was in trouble! But God has stayed with me!
7) In your opinion, what aspect of Motherhood should be most celebrated?
The fact that we are molding and shaping godly men and women one diaper at a time, one feeding at a time, one school grade at a time, one conversation at a time. Every day we are impacting our children’s lives. Mothering matters! It’s only what you do for Christ that counts. Leading your kids to Christ, teaching them to walk with and depend on him…these things count.
8) When you get time to yourself, how do you pamper yourself?
I eat breakfast out with my friends, go to dinner and a movie with my husband, or go for a nice long run.
9) How did the idea for your joint blog, Totally New Moms with Arlene Pellicane and Rebecca Ingram Powell come to fruition?
I knew when Rebecca agreed to write an endorsement for my book that we would one day work together. I prayed about it for ages. I don’t even know if Rebecca knows that. We both have a heart for girls and women. That drew me to her. Arlene was Rebecca’s special find! I’m pretty sure the idea started with me and Rebecca talking about it. Then Rebecca found Arlene and it took off from there. I think the three of us have such different styles and personalities, we complement each other well.
10) If there was one piece of advice you could give to an expectant mother (new or experienced), what would it be and why would this be important for her to hear?
Look for resources around you, they are everywhere. Printed material, experienced mothers in different seasons of life, your Bible, your doctor, your neighbors. Listen and learn. Be open to other’s opinions and take help when it’s offered. And above all, don’t be so hard on yourself. We aren’t perfect and that really shows up in our mothering. But don’t beat yourself up for a decade because you did or said something wrong to your child. (I’ve done that…) Kids are resilient. We aren’t most of the time. Ask God’s forgiveness and move on. There’s bigger things to come! And just think, some day you’ll be entering middle age and you’ll not know where the time went. Cherish the good, the bad, and the ugly of mothering because it all matters!