May 122012
 

My husband asks what I want for Mother’s Day. Breakfast in bed, time alone, chocolate, wine, dinner, flowers? Of course I want all these things, but none of them really captures what is in my heart this Mother’s Day.  Perhaps I am feeling a bit wistful because I just put away the winter clothes that my youngest has outgrown, or I am exhausted from another sleepless night or exhilarated from the growth spurt that seems to be measurable in inches before my eyes. Maybe I am basking in the kisses of two amazing boys, or drowning in the bathtub that won’t ever get clean, or lost in laundry or stunned by the newest phrase that came out of one of their mouths.

Maybe it is a combination of all these things, but when I think of Mother’s Day, I can’t seem to stay focused on myself. Rather, I find myself feeling a communal connection with women all over the world. Women who live down the street from me who I know, at this moment, are having the same silly discussion with their preschoolers about poop that I am having. Women who live in my town who I know will be up at 2:30 with me giving tender kisses to little ones. Women who live across the country or across the world who no doubt have the same tears and fears and smiles and joys that I do when it comes to this thing called motherhood.

For me, this year, motherhood is about the sisterhood. It is about all the women for hundreds of generations who have laughed and cried with their children and with each other. The women who have whispered sweet goodnights into the ears of little ones and screamed on behalf of their children and left blood and sweat and tears along the path to ensure that their children had it one step better than they did. For me, this year, motherhood is about all of you: The mamas who have come before me and those who are walking with me and those who will face the same path long after I am gone. Because whether I know you and cry with you or not, whether you are a close friend or a distant thought, the stream of motherhood consciousness holds us together.

There is a collective power that mothers seem to hold, embrace and create. And, although at times it can feel like I am trudging down the path of motherhood alone, with no one but a small child to talk to, I can always stop and draw on the millions of mothers around the world that are my sisters. I know that in their hearts they understand me, even if they don’t know me. In their hearts they have been where I am. No matter what I feel or think or experience, another mother is thinking or experiencing the same thing.

Sometimes I sit and watch my children and feel a surge in my heart so strong that I cannot imagine how I can live through it. I cannot dream of how I could ever express what I feel or explain to anyone else just how much I love these small people I am mothering. Sometimes I sit and hold my child against my skin and wonder if I could ever put into words the emotions that I feel for him. The joy, the fear, the dreams, the wonder. The immense ball of emotion that pulses through my heart and veins and out my pores. And then I realize, I don’t have to put it into words. I don’t have to try to explain it. Because mothers everywhere feel the same thing. We are united in this indescribable emotion, and, in that, we are forever sisters.

So here is to you, my sisters around the world, my sisters throughout time. Here is to all the mothers everywhere that share in my experience of this amazing journey.

So, do I want to sleep in? Eat chocolate? Go to brunch? Heck, yeah. Because I wouldn’t turn any of those down any day of the year. But in my heart, Mother’s Day this year is so much more. I am eternally grateful to my children on this Mother’s Day for allowing me to have such a connection with amazing women everywhere. Whether our children are newborn or grown, whether we have one child or ten children, we can find solace in each other and in the common path our hearts take. It is amazing and precious and scary and encompassing and passionate and vital and true. It is motherhood, and it is ours.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 Posted by at 10:42 pm
Oct 032011
 

Recently, my children blessed me with about an hour of freedom to get some housework done. It came at a cost of course, but it also resulted in some amazing developments, for them as well as for me. The scenario went something like this:

My three-year-old asked if the boys could play with chalk and draw on the chalk wall that is in our kitchen, his younger brother bounced up and down, pointing at the chalk wall in excitement. Sure, it seemed like a great idea for a soggy morning. I brought out the box of chalk and the two of them went at it. I sat and watched them for a minute and relished in the vision of the two of them, drawing side by side. I held back from commenting on their activity or getting involved, impressed with the moments that they play and interact together so comfortably.

I ventured out of the kitchen and thought about my to-do list. I wondered if their activity would last long enough for me to clean the bathroom. I started with something simple and swept the bathroom floor. The house was quiet. I tiptoed into the kitchen and peeked around the corner. Still working. I saw my three-year-old tell his younger brother, “It’s a space ship,” and my younger son smiled and nodded.

I went back to the bathroom. Not trusting fully in the longevity of what was happening, I cautiously pulled out the cleaning products, sure they would bound down the hallway at any moment. I took a deep breath and told myself to stop wasting time. I started cleaning. Alone, in the bathroom.

I checked on them several times, sure that I would find them in some precarious position, climbing countertops, eating chalk, smothering each other in some dangerous way. But each time, I found them in unbelievably cooperative play, creating a work of art. It was too good to be true.

I left them to it and continued my chores. I finished the bathroom and moved on to my bedroom. This was amazing. It couldn’t last. The house was quiet. I ventured out one more time to the kitchen, and there it was. I just knew it. The boys had developed a method for turning the chalk into powder and were diligently working together to cover the entire kitchen floor with a rainbow of fine powdery color. Green, red, purple, white, and orange dust blanketed the floor and covered them from head to toe.

I froze and felt my breath catch in my throat. My immediate reaction was to intervene and put a stop to what was no less than a messy disaster, but something stopped me. Perhaps it was the knowledge that the moment I intervened would be the end of my relative freedom to finish my chores. Perhaps it was an understanding that my intervention would also put an end to the cooperation and brotherly bonding that was going on. I took inventory and realized that the mess they were creating was a done deal and I made a conscious choice to “look the other way” and finish my tasks before tackling theirs.

The boys noticed me standing there and squealed with delight, “Look, Mama, we are making moon dust! We put footprints in it that will be there forever!” They stomped around the kitchen in their moon dust, proudly laughing and giggling as the chalk dust rose in the air. “Looks like fun,” I said and walked away.

I went back to my chores, trying to ignore the mess I was eventually going to have to address, and trying to hold on to the last few moments of precious peace I would have for the day. And then, perhaps because I had left them to their own devices, left them to negotiate and explore the world on their own without my help, they shocked me one more time. About 10 minutes later, I heard them getting into the towel closet. Worried that the chalk was going to infiltrate the entire house, I went out, prepared to put an end to this disaster once and for all and set the motherly foot down.

“We’re getting towels to clean up our mess, Mama.”

Wow.

I nodded and left them alone. A few minutes later, I went to the kitchen and found them both spreading watery towels on the kitchen floor, pushing wet chalk around. I asked if they needed help and they agreed.

Together we cleaned up their chalk. They were so proud of their creation and seemed even prouder of their decision to clean up when they were done.

I wondered to myself what happened.

I had trusted them to explore the world on their own. I had let them push the boundaries of what is normal and comfortable and refrained from engaging in any way, even to praise or encourage them. I had just let them be. While I would love to profess that I did this for some developmentally-driven, well thought out reasoning, the truth is that I simply did it because I was feeling a little bit selfish and enjoying my own moment of peace.

But, a miraculous thing happened. The boys created their own moment, experienced the world in their own way, flourished in their own imaginations, and showed a level of responsibility and awareness of the boundaries of the world that I never imagined they had in cleaning up after themselves. I never could have created all that if I had tried to formulate an experience or designated myself as the leader of their activity. They only really got all of that because they had the freedom and the space to start a task and see it through to the finish without me getting in the way.

And I got a little time to myself.

I wonder how often I intervene when I don’t have to. How often do I step in when situations get a little uncomfortable for me and, in doing so, limit my children’s experiences of the world? There are, of course, times when we must step in and guide our children away from danger. And there are many times when we have to guide our children to do certain things because things need to get done, we have places to go and things to do. But oftentimes, we are guiding them away from experiences not because anything drastic is going to happen or out of any kind of necessity, but merely because their way is messy or inconvenient or different from how we imagined it would be.

While difficult to do in the moment, I believe strongly that allowing children space to experience the world on their own terms is crucial at every stage of development. It allows them to develop a sense of who they are in the world, allows them ownership over their thoughts and ideas and experiences. The chalk was their moon dust… The mess was their mess. For toddlers, freedom happens in safe spaces like this. As children get older, parents have to expand the area and offer bigger and bigger opportunities for freedom. This means parenting may be a little less comfortable at times as we give up control. But it may also mean that we have a little more room to breathe and a little more room to grow. Sometimes, we need to get out of the way of our children’s development.

 Posted by at 2:48 pm
Sep 262011
 

The other day at the park I overheard two moms talking about another mom they both knew. They were talking about that mother’s decision to try the “cry-it-out method” to help her child sleep: “She’s crazy.” “I would never do that to my baby.” “It just seems too awful.” Even though the mother-on-trial wasn’t there, I felt a pang of empathy for her. Her friends’ judgments were anything but supportive. I imagined a mother at the end of her rope, exhausted from lack of sleep, maybe at odds with her partner due to the nighttime stress. She probably feels pretty alone and frazzled and scared she is making the wrong decision. She has probably fretted and worried and changed her mind about how to parent her little one and finally committed to a certain method. A method that at least two of her friends disagree with.

I wondered where that left her. Where does that leave any of us?

As parents we enter into a world that no one can really prepare us for. Even though millions have forged the road ahead of us, we still feel as if we are inventing the wheel, each step can feel new and awkward, scary and difficult. We constantly question ourselves. Are we doing it right? Are we messing everything up? We are our own worst critic. We judge ourselves constantly.

And who do we turn to for solace, refuge, support? Our friends. Other moms who share our common experience. Others who are where we are or who have been where we are now. Women. Mothers. Sisters. Friends. They should be our closest allies. We should be able to wrap ourselves in the warmth of our commonality and feel comforted knowing we are not alone. We should be able to tell our “sisters” all of our worries, all the things we fear we are doing wrong, all the things we judge ourselves so harshly for.

But, we don’t. Why? We fear judgment from them.

And, sadly, I wonder if our fears are often justified.

I know it’s an amazingly blatant generalization, but I have to say it anyway. Women seem to be almost as judgmental of other women as we are of ourselves. Maybe it makes us feel better, more competent in our own parenting to be able to judge others. Maybe it’s just habit. Maybe our judgments are really just reflections of our own worries.

Whatever it is, one thing is for sure. It keeps lots of us from really giving or receiving the support we need from our “sisters.” And during this amazing stage of life called mothering, we may need our sisters more than ever.

So what can we do about it? How can we change our Mama Circles from being a Jury of Our Peers to a Sisterhood of Support? I propose that a few new truths can make all the difference:

1)      There is no “Right Way” to parent. Parenting strategies have to work for the child, the parent and the family. If they don’t, the strategy just won’t be effective. We have to be true to our own dynamics first rather than blindly following a theory or advice.

2)      All kids are different, all parents are different, all families are different.

3)      Parents are the only ones who can be an expert on their family.

4)      As parents, we all have things we will do “right” and things we will do “wrong.” In that way, all sisters are equal.

5)      Parenting is like a Monet painting. It’s the accumulation of a million decision points parents make over the years that create the painting. One individual dot probably won’t make or break us. We agonize over the dots instead of working toward the bigger picture. Sisters can help bring us back to the bigger picture rather than adding critique to the dot.

6)      And maybe the most universal and important truth. If you’re a mother, no matter what pain, fear, anxiety or regret is being expressed by your “sister,” you have probably been there. If not, then you will be soon. Listen with empathy.

As women, let’s ban together. Let’s commit to loving each other, supporting each other and helping each other thrive as mothers. Let’s adopt the mantra “I’m with ya, Sister!” and really mean it. Let’s let go of the judgments and give each other what we really want in return: Pure, unadulterated support with no strings attached from the only people who can really understand how we feel. Our sisters.

Sep 122011
 

I love my mom. My mom is awesome. She was a stay-at-home mom until I was about 8 or 9 years old. She made clothes for my dolls, she hand-sewed pillows of the letters of my name, she even threw a sleepover St. Patrick’s Day party with green make-your-own pretzels just because we were moving and I would miss my friends.

She was a role model for keeping an orderly and clean house, she created nutritious family meals and always made our birthdays and holidays extra special and magical. I admired when she went back to school and established a career. I so valued the fairness she always aimed for between my brothers, my sister and me.

I learned so much from my mom that nourished my development and made me the person I am today—and yet, there was at least one important area that I had to learn on my own. This was highlighted for me when my son was first born and I was still nursing him. I was spending a week at the beach with my extended family. As many of you know, nursing along with sleep interruption can be very demanding physically. I was about 6-8 weeks into it, and let’s just say Jacob was not a great sleeper. One morning Jacob started to fuss and seemed to be hungry, so before getting “into position” to nurse him for what could be up to 30-45 minutes, I decided to first eat a quick breakfast. My mother didn’t control herself from chiming in with her vote on my decision. “Juuulie…,” said with that tone that conveys in an instant that I have done something that warrants disapproval. It became clear in that moment that I was not following my mother’s wisdom but instead my own. Just like on an airplane when the adult puts on her oxygen mask first and then assists the child—this was what I was doing with my son. I was grateful that my mom was able to hear my perspective and acknowledge that somehow both my sister and I were able to learn this valuable lesson on our own. I learned it the hard way. I learned it after a variety of “accumulated-stress/health crisis” type experiences where I realized that I must take care of myself (my heart, body and soul) because others won’t AND that I must do this to better serve my family.

This lesson is one that I think we all circle back to many times in our lives. It is frankly challenging to do and often requires a certain set of conditions to sustain. What works at 20 or 30 may not at 40. What was possible before kids may need to be revised after kids. Below are some specific aspects I have learned with regard to self-care:

  • Break the downward spiral. This can be the hardest part. When we find ourselves over-tired, anxious, craving sweets and it’s raining outside—what is it going to take to break the cycle enough to move us towards feeling better enough to want to keep doing what is best for our own care? Identify the support you need and get it.
  • Get the help you need. If you need to jump start out of a downward spiral, you might want to pay a professional (doctor, naturopath, therapist, acupuncturist, personal trainer, coach, etc.) to turn the tide. A little St. John’s Wort could go a long way.
  • Build a community of support. Once the momentum is headed in the right direction, your support could be your spouse, your friends, or relatives. How we eat and what we value is significantly influenced by those we are with daily. How often have we been drawn into having a chocolate éclair just because our sweetie bought it for us?
  • Find what works for you. For your body. (Do you need a run to get the serotonin going or is restorative yoga the type of relaxation your body craves?) Experiment, learn about physiology and nutrition and use your self-awareness to discern the right formula for you.

 Posted by at 9:34 pm
Aug 232011
 

I have not set my alarm in over 2 years. Who needs one when there is an intense scream from the next room of “mommy!”, “daddy!”, or “wake up!”? As I struggle to open my eyes, roll my body out of bed, feel around for my glasses and slide into my slippers, I greet my child for the day. I would love to be able to claim that our day together starts with him wanting to be held for a moment as we slowly adjust to being awake…instead he is singularly focused on a mission for food. “Eat!”, as he signals with his hand going to his mouth. “Yes, granola” repeated over and over until we finally begin the trek downstairs to fulfill his needs. There is some comfort in starting the cycle over again. Buckling my child into his booster seat, serving him granola and milk, turning on the tea kettle, letting the cat up, emptying the dishwasher. And we start another day. As the breakfast routine comes to a close, I reflect on the day and what it holds for us.

Did I manage to plan ahead and arrange an outing or do the next 10 hours (till Daddy comes home and it is not just me and my child) stretch out in front of us like a huge expanse? Am I determined to “get things done” like laundry, shopping or some other project in the house or am I going to surrender completely to the whims of a toddler? Either choice has proven to hold both inner struggle, outer struggle and mixed sense of satisfaction. The accomplishment of getting laundry washed and folded while supervising the play of a little one does feel significant – especially if it can be done with little to no whining, neglect or feelings of guilt. On the other hand, the constant battle of putting off a child to do something as trivial as carrying a laundry basket downstairs doesn’t seem worth it in the big scheme of things. These are those precious days of parenting. He will only be this young for such a short time. That said, when I hand over a whole day to my child – who in reality doesn’t need me 100% of the time, just 70% of the time or every 2-4 minutes, I often find myself feeling a lack of purpose, a sense of emptiness, particularly if I have no meaningful interaction with another adult.

For me, I pride myself in being attuned to my child – perhaps at the expense of staying connected to what I want. I try to stay open to what I’m really feeling but often after so much deferring to the demands of my child, my heart has shut-down in a way that it is not that easy to reconnect quickly. I shift to a mode of “doing” that makes sure food is provided, naps happen, appointments are made, and dinner is at least identified, purchased and perhaps started. After days of not being in touch with my own heart, various stirrings creep up and suddenly I find myself wanting to sneak a Little Debbie’s Nutty Bar into my purse so that I can eat in the car while driving to the store. My son has starting asking what people are doing. Sure enough as soon as I opened the crinkly wrapper, from the backseat (good ears since his car seat is facing backwards) I hear “Mommy doing?” and I feel busted! The guilt of eating it to begin with, then trying to evade his question…I had to laugh at myself for the ridiculousness of the situation I had put myself in and how much I was projecting on to a 2 year old.

It is this type of inner dialogue I have over and over again – trying each week to discern my needs as well as those of my child to spontaneously and with careful planning, design the “perfect” day. Too often finding the balance on a daily basis eludes me, but often enough I feel a splash of joy with a smile on my lips as I go to sleep at night.

 Posted by at 1:32 pm
Aug 222011
 

As soon as new parents find out they are pregnant, the wonder, curiosity and obsession with their child’s development begins. From day one we are constantly thinking about how the little ones are growing and changing. This week they develop fingernails, this week they start moving around, this week they can start to hear voices around them.  We think about their mental development, their physical development, their emotional development. We gush as they start to build networks of friends. We get excited when parallel play turns to cooperative play. We email everyone we know when they make the swim team or discover that they are amazing rock collectors. We are intimately aware of the fact that they are developing into adults and we want to make sure that they have support, opportunity and resources to make the most of each exciting new step.

But where does this development end? When they go off to college? When they get married? When they have their own kids? The fact of the matter is that human development never stops. We are constantly moving from one developmental milestone to the next. What we see in our children is nothing short of miraculous, and it is amazing to watch but in reality we as parents are still developing ourselves.  I wonder why this never makes the radar.

The transition into and through adulthood can be just as challenging, exciting and rewarding as what our little ones experience. We are struggling to find out who we are away from our families of origin. We are redefining ourselves in terms of partnerships, careers, marriages and friendships. We are learning to negotiate life without having a parent tell us what to do and when to do it. We are learning to look at ourselves outside of the predefined context of school or education. We are starting to develop more mature tastes and preferences. We are starting to become financially stable. Our bodies are changing (yes, still). Our politics are changing. Our minds are changing. Finally, the world is our oyster, we have it together.

It’s all about us.

And then we have kids.

And the world shifts.

It’s all about them.

Oh man, is it all about them! Their wants. Their needs. Their development. Their friends. Their activities. Their growth.

But what about us? What about the parents? Our development has not come to an end. On the contrary, quite the opposite is true. Not only are we continuing in our path of developmental milestones, but now instead of having all the energy focused on ourselves, we have to do it blind, while taking care of someone else, with no sleep, and probably with one hand tied behind our back (or holding a baby so to speak.)

And not only that, but now our developmental changes are compounded by this new person. Now who we are, who we want to be, how we define ourselves, how we interact with others is all impacted by parenthood.  It is all too easy to lose ourselves in all of the wonder and joy and chaos and fear of parenting. It is all too easy to forget our own spiritual, emotional, mental and physical development. It is all too easy to ignore our own developmental needs at the expense of giving everything to our child.

So, often parents find themselves feeling overwhelmed, depressed, scared and lonely as children seem to require a never ending need of energy. New couples feel estranged from each other as a new family member shifts the dynamics of the entire family system.  New roles are defined as old ones are abandoned.  And to top it all off, just when we think we have it all figured out and have settled into our new roles with a working rhythm, the children’s needs change, our needs changes, our family members’ needs changes. And it’s back to the drawing board. Each family member’s personal developmental path creates new demands on the family’s resources and everyone has to shift again.

Despite this amazingly complicated and intertwined system of developmental challenges that impacts all family members, it seems that parenting books focus only on the child and their development needs. But what about the parent? Maybe it is time to put PARENT back in parenting. We need to define resources and places where parental development is paramount to healthy child development.  And not just parents learning how to be better parents, but parents focusing on and embracing their own personal growth, acknowledging and understanding their own developmental milestones, and thriving in (rather than surviving) each developmental stage. THEN we can help our children do the same.

 Posted by at 2:55 pm
Aug 022011
 

Motherhood Bliss. I heard about it, read about, talked about it and expected it. It is in part, why I was so excited to get pregnant. Is there anyone who doesn’t want to coo over tiny fingers and get lost in the first smile of a newborn? And then there is the other side. Post partum depression. As a psychologist I knew all about that too. I understood the diagnosis and was ready to look for symptoms. My midwife and pediatricians were great about checking in with me to make sure I wasn’t suffering from a serious depression that may interfere with my ability to care for my child, or myself. They would run down the list of symptoms.  Mood swings? Well, my hormones were pretty wacky, does that count? Anxiety? I was terrified of doing something wrong as a parent, worried about my baby’s every breath, does that count? Disrupted sleep? Come on, really? Is there a new mom who sleeps peacefully? Irritability?  I was sleep deprived and my boobs hurt. You could say I was irritable.  Uncontrolled crying? I find myself welling up from time to time, usually overcome with an overwhelming love and awe for the little person in front of me, does that count?  Sadness? Well, let’s talk about that one. Between you and me, there was something there, way in the back of my mind. I didn’t dare acknowledge it out loud, because that might have meant that I was not experiencing motherhood bliss.  And I must have been blissful, because I couldn’t say I was depressed and those were my only two options right? So I pushed it away. Never mind, no sadness here!

Somehow my midwife and I came to the conclusion that I was not experiencing post partum depression.  Excellent, I was in the midst of motherhood bliss.  Good to know.  My friends and family told me I looked great. I was glowing. Excellent. Good to know.

Most of the time I believed them. Most of the time it was true. Most of the time, I was in utter love and complete awe of the magic that was transforming my life into something that I never imagined was possible. Some of the time I even felt like the moms in movies and on the cover of magazines, vibrant and alive with a lusty obsession with my baby. For the most part I was content to stare at him sleeping, and when I was not staring at him, I was probably staring at pictures of him, afraid of missing one tiny miniscule moment of his life.

And then, the sadness would pop up. Just a glimmer of it. A nudge really, elbowing me in the inner recesses of my mind. A thought formed….”who am I now?” I was quick to answer, I am a mom. And mostly I loved the answer. And then another thought…”what did I use to do, what did I use to like?” I was not sure. How did I ever think any of those things were important? I wondered if I was previously just an incredibly shallow and unenlightened person or did the things I use to like to do really matter in another world, in another time, to another person. The old me. The childless me.

Where is that me? I would try to remember. I used to really love my career. I used to love to travel, to eat out in great restaurants with friends, a good bottle of wine, a good book. I used to love hot baths and long phone conversations and movies. Do I still like these things? Absolutely! And I would do any of them in a heartbeat….any chance I get. But they are secondary. They have ceased to be my first priority. Now, my career is a means to provide for my children. Travel consists of packing up to go the park or the zoo and eating out is limited to restaurants that have a train table. Last time I picked out a bottle of wine I grabbed the first one I saw with one hand as I reached for my toddler who was running down the aisle with the other.  I still read, but a book takes me months to finish and while I used to bask in the profoundly beautiful writing of Marquez and Hemmingway, I now am obsessed with Eric Carle, Richard Scary, and Dr. Seuss.  Hot baths? Well, I’m lucky to get a quick shower and that doesn’t happen without someone poking a head in or throwing a plastic dinosaur in with me. And as for long phone conversations, well, find someone who will tolerate talking for long when my part of the conversation is splattered with “please take the dinosaur out of your nose”  and “please don’t lick your brother’s head”.  When I do manage to squeeze in a conversation I am hard pressed to have something interesting to say that doesn’t concern poop.

I have become the person I always said I would never be.  I have become the typical mom. I am dying for a minivan and instead of surfing the internet to find  a great band to see with friends tonight I am surfing to find out what time story time at the library is. I am a parent to toddlers.  The things that used to define me are mere memories, whispers of a life that seems too far removed from my reality now to be obtainable. I am sure, that some day I will get back there. I will read something that has more than 10 words per page and have interesting thoughts about the state of the union.  I know this is true but somehow, right now I can’t imagine it.

And thus, the sadness. A bit of grieving for the person I was. Not an overwhelming sadness. Not an uncontrollable, diagnosable, depressed kind of sadness. It is a quiet feeling. An afterthought really. But it is real and true and undeniable.  And for some reason we don’t talk about it. At least I didn’t.

Maybe I am afraid of admitting that the “motherhood bliss” isn’t really all blissful all the time. Maybe I am afraid that admitting to a certain level of sadness may diminish my love for my children. Maybe I am afraid that people won’t think I am supermom.  Maybe I am afraid they will diagnosis me or label me with post partum depression and that will somehow make me less successful as a mother.

The reality is that both are true.  We can be in motherhood bliss. We can thrive on being with our kids and at any given moment we would probably rather be with them than doing anything else. We can be supermoms. We can breast feed and baby-wear and make homemade baby food from our organic garden and do art projects and trips to the Children’s Museum. We may love it all.

And we may just be  a little bit sad.

When ever I talk about this with other moms the same thing happens.  A collective sigh comes from all the supermoms in the room. The usual banter about diapers and nap routines is suddenly punctuated by a heartfelt commonality that we all seemed to understand but rarely speak about.  We were all in the midst of a drastic identity change and while we all embraced the profound meaning of motherhood, we were all a tiny bit sad about the profound loss of the things that use to be important to us.  Most importantly I think we all felt closer having taken the risk to admit to the sadness.

Just knowing that other supermoms feel the same way was an emotional elixir that soothed my worried soul. It seemed as if the worrying about the sadness was more troublesome than the sadness itself.  Like I said, the sadness itself was an afterthought. A fleeting feeling of loss that emerged from time to time.  The lingering result was the fear that experiencing this sadness somehow meant I loved parenthood less. That I was less than the supermom I wanted to be. Knowing that all the moms I look up to, all the moms that seem to have it all together, experience the same thing as me changed my outlook. Maybe the loss wouldn’t feel so lonely. Maybe the change wouldn’t  be so scary. I wish my friends who foraged the road to parenthood ahead of me had been able to talk about the downside a little bit more. I wish I had been in a place to listen to them if they had. I hope I can talk a little more honestly to my friends who will enter parenthood after me. Maybe together we can learn to celebrate the change, rather than ignore it.

 Posted by at 7:06 am
May 312011
 
 Posted by at 7:00 pm