I Have Baggage

I remember looking through old photo albums with my mom the first time I realized she didn’t have a single picture of my father holding me when I was a baby. When I asked why, she said he was so sick by the time I was born that he wouldn’t let her take his picture. I was in my twenties when this conversation happened. Isn’t it odd that so many years had passed before I realized no picture existed of my father and me? I suppose since he died when I was a baby, the image of me having a father was just so foreign to me that I didn’t expect to see it, not even in Kodak.

By the time I was two, my mom had remarried, and we became a his-hers-and-ours household. Now, I know this works for some families. After all, I grew up watching The Brady Bunch. Mike and Carol Brady figured it out. But our family, not so much. We moved to a different state hours away from my grandparents where my brother and I were the step children, and we were often reminded of that in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. So we walked on eggshells in a household where we didn’t belong and where criticism and discipline reigned. I remember my mom whispering when she tucked me in one night, “You know I’m on your side.”

So, on my wedding day, when it was time to walk down the aisle, the thought that kept running through my head was how weird it felt to have my hand tucked into the bend of my step-dad’s arm, how odd it was to actually touch him. And when the question was asked, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”—and he responded—“Her mother and I do”… all I could think was when was I ever yours to give away?

So, baggage? Yeah, I have a whole set.

The main piece was growing up without a father, but along the way I managed to pick up the carry-on, the garment bag, the duffel. I have baggage. But don’t we all? Our baggage might look different—rejection, failure, guilt, not being smart enough, athletic enough, pretty enough, lovable enough. Fill in the blank. But it’s all the same.

Moms, we’ve got some important decisions to make about our baggage. What are we going to do with it? Because baggage doesn’t just hang around unnoticed. We trip over it, and it affects everything—the choices we make, the jobs we do, the people we love.

When Rusty and I were expecting our first baby, I told him, “You have to be the father I never had.” That was my baggage, and I was pushing it onto my hubby with expectations that weren’t fair to him. (Although, since one man didn’t exist and the other was a tyrant, maybe the standards weren’t so high after all?) Still, it wasn’t fair.

It’s not easy to let go of our baggage, is it? It’s been with us so long it’s part of us. Maybe we even kind of like our baggage. Why else would we keep holding on to it? I wonder if we secretly think…

“I have designer baggage. It’s cost me a lot. Like Louis Vuitton. See here? It even has my monogram!”

 “My baggage is tragically beautiful. It’s Plum Crazy, my favorite Vera Bradley print. I like looking at it.”

“Oh, my baggage isn’t that heavy. Really. It has those four spinner wheels on it. Super convenient and easy to roll everywhere I go!”

We might have all kinds of reasons for holding on, but you know what I’ve discovered?

If I’m carrying baggage, it’s difficult for me to move forward while I’m dragging weight behind me.

If I’m carrying baggage, I can’t wrap my arms around the people I love and squeeze them close because there it is–the baggage–wedged between us.

If I’m carrying baggage, I can’t raise my hands in praise and thankfulness. Oh, I can raise them…but not too high, and not too long, because my junk is HEAVY!

But most damaging of all, if I’m carrying baggage, I might pass it on to my children. Because that happens. 

Baggage can look a lot of different ways when it’s passed on to our kids.

  • A mom who was unpopular in high school might push her child to be popular—at any cost.
  • A mom who never felt good enough might expect perfection from her son.
  • A mom who felt unloved might encourage girl/boyfriend relationships much too soon.
  • A mom who felt unattractive might encourage her daughter to be too attractive too young.

To be honest, some of us are carrying baggage that was handed down to us, aren’t we?

So how much are we willing to carry? For how much longer? At what cost?

Whoa! This post has become a little “heavy” (pun intended). We need some comic relief. Check out this short video…kind of cute, kind of funny, kind of disturbing. But it kind of reminds me how I act sometimes when I don’t want to deal with heavy things.

How different would The MOM Journey be if we weren’t taking our baggage with us?

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. — Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

That “soar on wings like eagles”–I really like that–but it’s hard to soar when we’re saddled with weight. Tell you what…

I’ll put down my baggage if you’ll put down yours. It’ll be easier that way to walk  this journey together.

***

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22 Comments

  1. Valarie Gorza says:

    I didn’t know that I needed this “baggage”blog until I read it. Thank you!!

    • karensargent87@gmail.com says:

      Val, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing! I don’t want to be a downer! HA! So thankful you’re on the journey with us!

  2. Laura says:

    Baggage- yes we all have it. You are right. We make a conscious choice every day to 1) carry it around by always dragging it around with us like you said OR 2) we decide to learn from it and try our best to forget it. Thus, living our lives by doing something different/better and deciding to focus on the positive. I continue to make mistakes as a mom and am sure I always will, but I love my daughters with all of my heart and know that I want to be a better example of what a mom should be and do in regards to loving, living, and encouraging not only my family but all of those friends that I call family. Great confession Karen!

    • karensargent87@gmail.com says:

      Well, if it makes you feel any better about any mom mistakes you’ve made, when Kelli was probably 6 or 7 she said, “Mom, you’re a great mom and all, but it would be really fun to have Laura for a mom.” (HA!)I think she probably hugged me or something afterward. (Does anyone know if these comments have emojis? I can’t communicate without them!)

  3. Glenda says:

    Great blog post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. In my mid-30’s, I became tired of dragging around all my baggage and decided it was time to stop, turn around, and face it head on. It wasn’t an easy journey, but so worth it in the end. My two children were constant reminders of how I wanted to be a better person and mom.

    • karensargent87@gmail.com says:

      Isn’t it great when you get “old enough” to realize, “What am I doing dragging all this junk with me?!” And then there are things that aren’t so great about being “old enough”…like those grey hairs I’m seeing more of! But that’s probably my girls’ fault! 🙂 Your two babies are blessed you’re their mama!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Wow, growing up next door to you and your family I thought you had it all. You were beautiful, you had an uncommon last name and a big house! Your mom was and is amazing! Not only do we all have our baggage we have our own stories and perceptions. We never truly know what it is like in another’s shoes. Great blog Karen, you have an amazing writing talent! Looking forward to the next blog.

    • karensargent87@gmail.com says:

      Hey, Jennifer! First of all, growing up with that uncommon last name was a pain! HA! And you’re right…God blessed me with a mom who did her best to make up for anything that was missing…and He blessed me with some key people in my teenage years to fill in some gaps. I’m SO glad you’re following The MOM Journey! It’s so great to reconnect with you. Is it okay if I still envision you as a skinny, little blonde girl riding a bike? HA!

  5. Sandy says:

    Love, love this!! We all have baggage but some of us keep it hidden and keep a mask on to hide what we are carrying from all those around us and in doing so we only hurt ourselves in the long run. If we don’t open up the baggage and clean out what’s inside you can find that you continue to wear the same things over and over. We need to allow God to help us pack a new bag and allow him to show us how unpack those old things and use them to grow in him and through him to make us better everyday. Baggage isn’t bad unless you continue to hang onto the same old stinky things. You can choose to take those stinky things in that bag and replace them with new fresh things and make life better for you and everyone around you. Yeah that baggage will always be there it’s part of who you are and the path God has put before you. Now unpack it, clean it out and use it to make life the best it can be. Allow God to work through it.

  6. Mom says:

    How interesting to see it from your point of view~~depressing too. At least I knew who my father was even though I didn’t live with him. Be assured your father loved you very much and would have been a wonderful father to you and your brother.
    When I think about those “other” years it still fills me with anger and guilt. Guilt because I didn’t have a way to get you out of the situation. But now I understand why I go ballistic when I hear people say unkind things about those I love and who are important to me. It still hurts!

    • karensargent87@gmail.com says:

      Mom, the post was about letting go of our baggage. 🙂 We’ve often talked about how the things we go through make us who we are. 🙂 I may not have had a dad, but I was blessed abundantly with a mom. Love you. (This is a lot of baggage!) HA!

  7. Trisha says:

    So many thoughts running through my head while reading this! I love that your blogging!! I enjoyed your class, as challenging as it was for me, and your stories. It will be great to hear (read) them once again. I absolutely LOVED this topic and the video, I can relate to both. I look forward to reading more…
    P.S. Please don’t proof this. 😉 Lol⬆

    • karensargent87@gmail.com says:

      Trish, thanks so much for following The MOM Journey and for your encouragement! I love that you commented…and don’t worry about proofing. This English teacher is off duty at 3:08 PM!

  8. Holly says:

    I agree with Sandy. While we all have baggage, some of us have mastered keeping it hidden, so that no one ever knows what you’ve lived through.

    I’m lucky enough, that I feel as if my childhood has made me a stronger person. I know what kind of life I want my children to have, what I never want them to experience, and I try my hardest everyday to give them the life they deserve.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences/ stories with us!

    • karensargent87@gmail.com says:

      Holly, I have no doubt you are a wonderful MOM! You pointed out the “good” things about baggage…the positives that can result. Your babies are blessed!

  9. A-M says:

    Love this. I love how much lighter I feel when I’m not carrying my purse… It’s even better when it’s emotional baggage I’m getting rid of. We’re on an adventure! I don’t want anything bogging me down. <3

  10. Brandy Lorenz says:

    Wow!! Hits home. Thanks for this😉

  11. Tammy says:

    Very true I love this. Thank you for starting this blog. I can definitely relate 😜

  12. Laurin says:

    Love this post. Thankful for a Saviour Who declares over us-“It is finished!” He has taken our baggage & our heavey laden-ness…and given us rest for our souls…so we can soar!! Yes, yes, yes!

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