Monday, August 23, 2010

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{Jen} Project: Empowering Motherhood

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Today we hear from my friend Jen. I've known Jen for a long time but it wasn't until we started planning our weddings that we really became close. Then Jen got pregnant and so did I. Jen's daughter Emma is 2.5 months older than Cati so, as you can imagine, I bombard Jen with questions about life with a new baby. It's great to talk to Jen about motherhood because everything is still fresh in her mind.

Here are Jen's answers:

1. One ugly truth about motherhood. It's permanence and the fact that there's no going back. It's such an immense commitment and you don't know what you've gotten yourself into until your baby is born, and at that point it's way too late to change your mind. You are stuck with this immense life decision that you never got the chance to "test drive" or practice with to decide if it's really what you wanted or not. No matter what, nothing prepares you for having a child except having a child. It's such a huge risk because you never really know what it's going to be like until it's done. I feel lucky in that I love being a mom and I've really enjoyed 95% of all the aspects of motherhood so far, but sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I hated it? The second big ugly truth is that you're in it alone. Of course a lot of us are blessed with amazing support systems that make our lives ten times easier, including our husbands who do share a lot of the job of raising this child. But I feel like, at the end of the day, the buck stops with us. We ultimately are responsible for making the decisions and for taking care of the baby, and there's really no one who shares the burden with us to the same extent we bare it ourselves, and there's really no one we can turn to to answer our questions or make our decisions for us. No matter how good their advice is, no one can step in our shoes and take over, and no one has ever raised our particular child or under our particular circumstances. There's no owner's manual. We're on our own when it comes to the core of raising our child and that's a huge responsibility and sometimes it can feel very lonely to have to do that all by ourselves.

2. What does motherhood mean to you? It means the honor and the privilege of being the biggest source of warmth, love, and comfort in another human being's life. It's such a universal truth of motherhood that it's become a cliche (in a cartoon when the character is in danger or frightened, they say "I want my mommy!"). Even as an adult now, and ESPECIALLY since I've become a mom myself, I've had many "I want my mommy!" moments. It takes my breath away to think that when my child is scared or lonely or in need of comfort, the place where she'll want to go to hide from the world and feel loved and protected is in my arms. My heart swells with pride to think that just by letting her bury her head in my neck and showering her with hugs and kisses and stroking her head or her back, I can make her feel better and make whatever problems she's facing seem more manageable. I love that that factor of our relationship will always be there, even as her problems evolve from scraped knees to broken hearts to the scary, terrifying issues that come along with being a real grown up. I hope she relishes in receiving that love and comfort just as much as I know I will relish in giving it out.

3. How has motherhood empowered you? Motherhood makes me feel competent and capable. One of the best gifts my parents gave me was to raise me with a lot of self-confidence, and that has carried over into my role as a mom. Of course there have been millions of times that I've questioned my decisions or not been sure as to the right course of action to take in a particular set of circumstances. But overall, I can honestly say that I've never questioned my ability to be a good mom. Seeing my daughter grow from a helpless newborn to an active, intelligent, thriving baby has given me such a boost of self-confidence. She is too wonderful for me not to be doing something right. Again, we are lucky to have a lot of other important players in Emma's life that help out a LOT, and I know for sure that their love for her and the way they care for her has a lot to do with how well she's developing. But just as I ultimately know that so much of the responsibility of raising her lies with me, I'd also like to think that I deserve a lot of the credit for how well she's turning out. Motherhood is empowering because it's a huge job and you know you're doing it well by seeing your child right in front of your eyes. If you have a happy, healthy baby, it's tangible proof of a job well done. Of course even the best babies belonging to the best moms are NOT always happy and NOT always healthy, and that's when your confidence is shaken. But those moments of self-doubt only help to reinforce how good it feels when things DO fall into place and your baby shows you that you are doing a great job just by being their amazing selves.

Thanks Jen for not only helping me get through my tough times with motherhood in the beginning but also for being a positive mothering role model.

Project Empowering Motherhood is an ongoing series in celebration and honor of Cati's 6 months. For my responses to the questions and more about the series, go HERE. To read Jenn, Melisa, Esther, Andrea, and Jenny's answers, go HERE. If you are interested in participating and being featured on the blog send your answers to the three questions to steppystar@aol.com.

1 comment:

Eli said...

Aww :) I loved this post!!