I was writing to another mama, and it inspired me to write this to you all.
Some of us dream about being a mama when we are just little girls. Others of us rejected the idea of motherhood, and became pregnant anyway. But regardless of where we fall on that spectrum, I think motherhood comes as a shock in many ways. Most of us don’t have a mother who sits us down to explain all “the feelings” that happen. And as we get farther away from one stage, we forget its woes, so when we have grown children we will likely not fully prepare them either.
A new baby comes with some “letting go”. You’ve let go of being “young and free” (relatively speaking). You’re no longer allowed to be selfish (what I mean is you can no longer do things just for your own sake)… you have to PLAN to take care of yourself… even go to the bathroom. You’ve got to time everything now! You may mourn being able to eat a warm meal, or (surprise, surprise), as your precious babies acquire language, to complete a sentence (or a thought!) uninterrupted! You may mourn FOR your older child(ren) who lost their throne as only child, or youngest child, and now have to share your time, space, and energy.
You may mourn your independence. Babies expose our needs for help. And we ALL NEED help, but it’s hard to admit, especially for those of us who fancied ourselves as self-sufficient. This is even harder for those of us who were under-valued or mistreated as we formed our identities.
You look at your children, and you reflect on your own upbringing. And if you were short-changed in any way, those feelings surface. Flashbacks and anger and sorrow and all kinds of feelings rise up. We don’t exactly know how to handle this… no one taught us if this is you. No one told us, we were mistreated because our folks were mistreated. The cycle wasn’t broken. So now you look at your baby, and you think, “how can I?” And you are overwhelmed. Just overwhelmed. Each step feels like a mountain. But you’ll be different, Mama. You’ll rise to the occasion. You’ll break the cycle and you’ll change the map. Because you were born for a time such as this, and God gave you this dear one. And He is your right hand. His word never fails.
Children expose our short-comings. All those things you dislike about yourself? Your children will hold a mirror up to those things because as they grow, they will likely either replicate them, or react to them – this is unintentional of course. And you’ll have to face the dragons: your own reality.
Children make you become confrontational to a degree. You will have to either protect yourself, or your children from people who love and don’t love you, from those who mean you well, and from those who mean you harm. Your in-laws, your siblings, your parents, your friends, even your significant other, and definitely
strangers … once benign relationships… now some of them have formed opinions and these opinions are both offered and pressed on you without invitation, and some people are offended when you don’t comply.
I find the issues around children and child-bearing to be polarizing and I’m not sure why but I do know it heightens the intensity of emotions for moms. OB or midwife. Homebirth or c section. Drugs or no drugs. Circ or intact. Cosleep or own room. Vax or no-vax. CIO or attachment parenting. Bottle or breast. Just wait till your kids get to be school aged! That’s a whole new ball of wax! You’ll soon learn to shut out and drown out negativity (I hope you do!) and take in all information like a buffet, picking up what you like and leaving behind what seems unsavory to you.
I’ve learned that the hardship of new life is par for the course: feeling blue sometimes, feeling unprepared, the tears… they help contrast the sheer jubilation that the same life will continue to bring you. You’ll be caught up in the beautiful thing that IS life itself: a contrast of emotions, wrapped up in relationships. The old saying goes: better to loved and lost than to never have loved at all. It’s true. I’ve lived enough life to know I’m not guaranteed time with loved ones, not even my children. So I choose to live life sober minded, erring on the side of optimism and excellence, and to make choices that bring me and my ship (my family) just one baby step closer at a time. For us, we are inching our way towards Jesus. For you… well, you get to make that choice. And this is not a religious post. This post was just about why you have all these BIG FEELINGS.
This is just a SHORT list of things that are changing and will need to change. It happens rapidly. We are exhausted, and barely have time and energy to meet basic needs, much less tend to these larger issues! But they are pressed on us.
Add a labor story, a good one even, but especially if you had a traumatic one, and the whole issue of recovery has become four-dimensional. I’ve had both. If you’ve had to physical abuse trauma before this can be especially difficult. If you’ve had prior trauma, this can resurface another layer of issues.
What we are contemplating… motherhood… is no simple task. No wonder you are grappling with the change. No one really prepares us for this change or warns us about what happens on the outside and the inside. It’s a big deal. And we undergo this metamorphosis at the same time… we go through it simultaneously, experiencing it on the outside and the inside, multi-dimensionally.
So some of us feel lonesome, worried, fearful, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, incompetent, fully able, blissful, elated, grateful, guilty, and unappreciated… name a million other feelings and include them… and they all apply, and they happen simultaneously, in a swirling pool of emotional soup.
When you are ready, lift your eyes and your heart up to the future. You have the opportunity to create your own winning family culture. Decide what you’re about, even if there are just two of you. Make the decision independently, and with your SO if you have one, and when your children find their self-expression, include them too! Ask God about it too. He has a plan for you!
The point is, MAKE the decisions. Don’t waffle in the wind. Make the choices and stick by them. TRUST your instincts. God gave YOU them and they are for self-preservation and protection. (Unless you find yourself to be untrustworthy with thoughts of self-harm or harm to others… if this is you, get help. We ALL need help. Trust me!).
If you’re feeling something new, or old, it may help you to journal, draw, paint, listen to music, create music, express, say, etc. Try to sit with yourself and feel your feelings and know it’s okay! It’s okay to feel blue. It’s okay to feel happy! It’s okay to kind of mourn the way life was before as you have gone through your own metamorphosis too.
The point is, this metamorphosis probably has you FEELING. There is a REASON for all those feelings. Make some decisions about your loves and your lives as life meets you. If you’re reading this, then life has certainly met you!
Feel free to write about your feelings here. Judge free zone.