Motherhood comes with a lot of labels today. Labels mean groups and groups often mean separation from other groups. There are crunchy mamas, natural parenting moms, and attachment parenting mothers. There is natural consequence parenting, positive parenting, unconditional parenting, gentle parenting, and holistic parenting.
There are moms that do not necessarily identify with any of those groups. But, that does not mean that they escape the labels. They are still baby-wearers, formula feeders, breastfeeders, bottle feeders, extended breastfeeders, co-sleepers, cry it out mamas, working moms, student moms, stay-at home-moms, teen moms, single moms, divorced moms, married moms… You get the idea.
I have been a teen mom, a single mom, a mother in school [high school and university], a working mother, a stay-at-home mother, a married mother. I have been a mother who “sneezed and got pregnant” [see teen mom above], a mother with secondary infertility, and a mother who was forced to bury her child. I have been a mother living below the poverty line and a mother living with more than she needs. I have been an extraordinarily happy mother and a mother that suffered from postpartum depression [at a time in my life when I had the most support and greatest means]. I have been a mother that breast fed, a mother that pumped, a mother that bottle fed, a mother that made organic baby food from scratch, and a mother that fed my kids french fries and ice-cream smoothies for dinner, on more occasions than I can count. I have been a mother that sent my kids to public school and a mother that homeschooled. I have been a mother that used cloth diapers, a mother that used disposable diapers, a mother that co-slept, and a mother that snuck into my child’s empty bed because I just needed some space. I have been a mother that wished time would speed up and a mother that pleaded with time to slow down.
I just want to be a mother. No labels. No groups. No expectation for perfection.
Last night, my 8-year-old son crept out of bed hours past his bedtime and instead of ushering him back to bed, we cuddled on the sofa and talked for a good while and then I walked him upstairs and cuddled him and sang him made up lullabies about how much I love and adore him until he fell asleep. I watched his love tank fill to the brim and spill over in real time. He literally fell asleep with a smile on his face.
A few days before I scream yelled at my kids loud enough to over-power their screaming/crying match as I was attempting multiple freeway merges in the big city during rush hour, and they were losing the plot of whose stuffed animal was taking up more car space on the middle seat.
Neither are the right way or the wrong way, they just are. They both exist somewhere on the continuum of of highs and lows, peace and chaos, action and inaction that are our lives. They are all a part of the story. I hope my children remember the days I cuddled them to sleep and the days I felt like I was losing my mind after the 85th time they got into a fight because one was looking at the other.
Motherhood is the hardest thing I have ever done. It is messy and chaotic, exhilarating and wonderful. It is depressing and heartbreaking and elating and joyous. It is frustrating, disappointing and anxiety provoking and, yet, I find my greatest moments of peace, pride, and contentment with my children. It is fun and entertaining, overwhelming, and it is monotonous and boring.
I sometimes laugh until tears roll down my cheeks because my son’s persistent fart jokes (and more importantly the humour HE finds in them) are THAT funny! I sometimes cry tears of pure joy because I still cannot really believe I have a daughter that I can hold in my arms and talk to (ahem, for hours) about what she would name all of her future cats. Sometimes I feel like my heart is going to straight-up explode with pride when I see my oldest boy living his dreams and his life in ways that I didn’t even know were possible at his age. Sometimes I want to run away for a weekend, hole myself up in a hotel in the mountains, and just listen to the sound of silence for a couple of days (that dream has yet to materialize).
Motherhood is everything. It is everything in the world. It is every emotion. It is all I ever wanted. I hope when I whisper to my children as they drift off to sleep that they are brave, kind, beautiful, darlings and sunshine for my soul that they know I mean every word. And, I hope when I say their first, middle, and last names in one stern sentence they know I mean business.
Stay strong mamas. And, remember, that there is nothing more powerful than a group of women who stand together and support and uplift one another.
P.S. Also, I firmly believe that none of us have a freaking clue what we are doing.
This photograph was taken by my dear friend, Wendy Furlan-Morgan (and edited by me) on the coldest, windiest day of spring! Snotsicles were formed. 😀