The doctor's told me my first baby might not make it. There was risk of complete brain damage; it was up to me if I wanted to continue the pregnancy. The prognosis was vague at best. Everything might be fine - or everything might be terrible.
And isn't that the promise of motherhood? That we'll never know which moments will be precious and which will be precarious? We'll never know when grace is about to step in, to give us a helping hand or a moment of peace. The roller-coaster of motherhood brings impossible love, swelling fear, and everything in between. In a moment, everything can change. The baby cries shrilly, and your skin is on fire. All of a sudden, the world gets quiet, the baby gets quiet, and you've never felt such perfection. You've never felt so whole.
My baby was born healthy. He just turned 13.
In motherhood, there are no right decisions or wrong decisions, there is only the moment, and our own heart to guide us to the next best step.
Motherhood is the one experience that forced me to acknowledge my inner voice, while also making me question everything about myself. My way didn't look like everyone else's - did that make it wrong? My days didn't always flow the way I thought they should according to others' experience or the view of society. Did that mean I had failed?
If you fear you are missing something, then I think you're doing it right. If you question every piece of advice, read every book, doubt your capacity, and fall into bed at night wondering where you went wrong, then you are a great mother.
Questioning ourselves means we care. But we don't need to let the image of motherhood or the expectations of others pull us under. Motherhood is just as much an opportunity to realize your own gifts as a human as it is about taking care of the baby. Motherhood grants access to all your shadows and all of your light. Welcome everything in. Looking back, if I could offer any advice, it would be to stop using your expectations of motherhood as a way to beat yourself up. A hard day doesn't make you a bad mom. A baby waking in the middle of the night doesn't make you inadequate. Lack of sleep makes you exhausted and irritable, but it doesn't mean anything about who you are.
All our challenges as mothers, during pregnancy, birth, and raising babies, teach us of the courage and the heart that goes into being a mom. All of our challenges test our ability to trust ourself. Sometimes challenges require an opening up to something outside ourself, and an opportunity for grace to come in. Sometimes challenges force us to dig in our heels, and honor our inner knowing. Motherhood is your journey, and your transformation. We grow along with our children. By allowing the whole experience of motherhood to shape us, by observing the good, the bad, the difficult, and the miraculous, we acknowledge every single part of ourself. When we acknowledge every part of ourself, we feel less alone. Loneliness and isolation don't always come from lack of peopler around; sometimes it comes from abandoning our own heart.
All the perfect mothering in the world won't provide the fulfillment you seek. When you glimpse perfection, in the baby, while breastfeeding, while watching an older child with the new one, in your own eyes in the mirror, harness those moments. Motherhood is your superpower, and the journey is one into your own heart. I give you permission to fly.