Amy Jo's Story: Before and After
In my experience, nothing could have prepared me for motherhood with the exception of actually becoming a mother. Before my son was born I had this preconceived notion that I was going to be "a natural" at being a mom. In truth, I've been floundering on every step of my journey.
I assume that's how it goes for the vast majority of us, being that there truly is no manual to consult when Baby shows up. It's messy, exhausting, frustrating, infuriating, scary, guilt-ridden and confusing. One of the greatest tools that helped me along the way was the knowledge that millions of women have done this before me, and a whole world of people exist whose mothers were once in the same position as me.
There's something immensely powerful in that awareness. In fact, it was accessing the energy of my mother, sisters, grandmothers and centuries of feminine ancestors that gave me the strength to have a natural home birth and experience my labor pains as a connective thread between me and all the generations before me.
Yet, that connective thread still fell short of helping me to understand the immensity of the experience. Through the tears, the fears, the screams and the doubts of mothering I have also experienced love far beyond my capacity to understand. It's the kind of love that is so complete, so pure and so immense that even the LOVE hurts.
So, when my child-desiring friends ask me questions about mothering, in the hopes that I will fill their heads with the beautiful loving stories that my head was filled with pre-baby, I give them a perspective that I wish I had known. I tell them of the anguish, the ongoing questions that never have answers, the feelings of being incomplete and inefficient... it's pervasive! And I'm certain I'm not alone in this. Yet, there seems to be a huge hole in this part of the story as our society tells it.
I don't wish I had known before I became a mother because I would have changed my mind. Of course not! Being a mother has been the single-most experience that has grown me into the woman I am today. I can't even imagine how life would be without my beautiful son in my life. But I do wish someone had explained this to me so that I didn't spend many years thinking I was "broken" as a mother. I wish I had been connected with my sisterhood from a place of understanding that the messiness, mistakes, self-doubts, guilt and uncertainty are part of the journey. If only I had known that sometimes moms make bad choices and our babies still turn out okay. I wish I had known that I was powerful and wise, even when I was crying on the bathroom floor, unable to breathe, from fear that I had "ruined" my child.
These are the stories of mothering. The painful, real and truest versions of what we go through. It is with the linking of arms as mothers that we are able to be assured that everything is still going to be okay. Even through our mistakes~ all is well.