Our purpose as mothers

1386612_mom_and_kidEditor’s note: Attachment Parenting International (API) hopes every mom enjoyed her Mother’s Day on May 10 and every dad is looking forward to Father’s Day on June 21. This week, in honor of all mothers, API gives you a special “Inspired Mothers” celebration. We hope these posts inspire you in your parenting journey.

The day I became a mother, I felt a sense of purpose I had never known before.

These little lives have been placed in my hands, and it is my responsibility to give them love and nourishment, all while giving them room to grow into the people they are meant to be. The responsibility can seem overwhelming, but from the beginning, I had such a strong sense of this is what I’m meant to do.

That feeling of purpose and responsibility has also led me to feel such a connection with other mothers — both past and present. Motherhood looks different for each person. So, where I followed my instincts and naturally fell into Attachment Parenting, others may take a different path. There is no one right answer, no quick-and-easy golden rules that will guarantee a perfect outcome. If there was, motherhood would be easy.

Motherhood is by far the most rewarding thing in my life, but it is not always easy — especially when it seems that everywhere I look these days, people are tearing each other down. More specifically, moms are tearing other moms down. People are so quick to pass judgment or offer “advice” on the proper way to do something: cosleeping or crib, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, homemade baby food or store-bought. It can seem like a competition, offering up your thriving baby as proof that you’re doing things right. It can also make moms feel inadequate or insecure.

While I try really hard to refrain from gossip or judgment, I’m not perfect either. It’s easy to get caught up in comparisons of who reached what milestone and when, or assigning blame when things don’t end up the way you planned. But at the end of the day, every mother is doing her very best to provide her children with the same thing: a safe and secure place to grow.

As we continue to celebrate Mother’s Day this week, I sincerely hope that we can all feel confident enough in our own parenting decisions not to knock each other down. Instead, try to remember that we are all carrying that same sense of responsibility, and we should be building each other up. The world, and our kids, will be better for it.

Mother: I was desperate for that title

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”

-Debra Ginsberg

Mother.

I was desperate for that title.  I went through years of infertility. I was diagnosed with a uterus septum several years ago; I had several operations and procedures to diagnose it, as well as, fix it.  My husband and I ditched fertility treatments (fertility drugs and two failed IUIs) and opted to have acupuncture.  That did the trick; I was pregnant two years later, with my son. He was born, May 13.  Now, his birthday falls this year on Mother’s Day.

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Photo by Sara Turner

Now, I am a mother.  And with this title, comes the work, the love, the magic, and the chaos.

Right now, he is watching Sesame Street so I can write this.  Well, now his bare chested toddler torso is up against my right shoulder and I am begging him to press play again. So much of motherhood is a series of meltdowns that fury inside me, silently, and sometimes not-so-silent, while outside my own body, my toddler’s hands are everywhere, and my body doesn’t seem to belong to me, with cries for “Ba Ba” (his name for my breasts) and toddler somersaults across my chest and legs, crying “Mama Mama.”

Nothing quiets, UNTIL I STOP everything I am doing and throw up the white flag.  I give in to his needs. I am not going to lie – this cheeses me off sometimes.  I JUST WANT TO FINISH THIS ONE ARTICLE – THIS ONE THING. But that’s the thing – motherhood surrenders, not in defeat, but in victory – for it is in these surrenders, my toddler rises higher, smarter, more loved, more nurtured.

But darn, I just got a knee to the shoulder and his little persistent hands keep trying to turn off my computer.  So, I compromise.  I stop.  And we read his favorite book for the zillionth time, Llama Llama Red Pajama.

The veil of motherhood only gets lifted for a few: my husband, my closest friends, and sometimes, it just does not. I cloak myself in the finest silk and finest expectations of motherhood, and sit idly, feeling ugly underneath that beautiful white silk – feeling dark, angry, forgotten and I stir.  Oh, do I stir.

The comfort of kisses and hearing “Mama,” from my toddler, are like waves of rainbows.  But the surrender flag must go up to see these rainbows, for I am blind to them if I do not.  Magic is a funny thing – it comes and goes and sometimes there are droughts for days – no rainbows – no flag.

I managed to get through the first year breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and no TV.

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Photo by R. Oteri

The second year, well, that was a different story.  We still co-sleep, but it seems to be something our queen mattress has outgrown.  And we are still breastfeeding. But motherhood is not a cut and dry thing.

I really have no idea what I am doing.  Really, I don’t.  I just have a swollen compass I call my heart which leads me in the direction of my instincts and those instincts some refer to as Attachment Parenting.

Attachment Parenting has taken a beating with the recent Time magazine cover.  I have so many feelings about that cover, but mostly the feelings have dissipated and now I am left with the one feeling that is constant in my life: motherhood.  My choice is to be the best mother I can and to accept that some of my own expectations of what motherhood should be, simply are not realistic.  This flag of surrender, some might refer to as common sense.

Like Spiderman’s uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  I am responsible to raise this little human being to the best of my ability.  But babies and children don’t come with manuals.  They do though, come into the world wanting to be loved and nurtured.  That is manual enough for me.

I have no manual though and do I ever wish there was one. I do not reference parenting blogs, nor do I reference parenting books.  Most of the time, I am frantic, unshowered, and bored out of my mind, waiting for something to happen. And it often does: a luminescent crayon streak on the clear plastic blender, a load of folded clothes haphazardly sprayed all over the not-so-clean living room, the dog’s water bowl tipped over onto something that JUST SHOULD NOT GET WET, and a plethora of other things.

I’m not sure if I am doing it wrong, or just being honest.  Motherhood is hard. So many slices of myself get deli-sliced-thin and result in a big ole’ hoagie of letting go, sacrifice, doubt, and insecurity.  The condiments hold me in place: friendship, love, and support, and the way my boy loves me.

Each mother has their own journey. And I just wish we would stop clothes-lining each other and let each other parent.  The Mommy Wars have got to stop.  We love our children.  We really do and to each his or her own.

Most moms are doing the best they can.  The judgment is excruciating. Painful.  Ugly.  But my theory of where the mommy wars and the judgement stems from is the Grand Canyon of doubt and insecurity you get when you have children.  This great responsibility leaves one feeling powerless.  And that is the truth (as I see it).

“Through the blur, I wondered if I was alone or if other parents felt the same way I did – that everything involving our children was painful in some way. The emotions, whether they were joy, sorrow, love or pride, were so deep and sharp that in the end they left you raw, exposed and yes, in pain. The human heart was not designed to beat outside the human body and yet, each child represented just that – a parent’s heart bared, beating forever outside its chest.”
― Debra Ginsberg

There are so many things out of my control, so I hold tight to what I can control – how I choose to parent my child.  And nobody is going to get their claws on that, for it is wrapped in the impenetrable magic spider web of the love I have for my child. This intricate web is wrapped in the intensity of motherhood.

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Photo by Megan Oteri

My mother did the best she could and I am doing the best I can (and some days I totally stink at motherhood, but I keep going, keep trying, and keep evolving).  I have some more tools in my tote these days, with supportive mothers, and a computer to reach out on days I feel isolated and alone.  Just to know I am not alone on this journey, gives me some sense of peace.  I also have a friend who lives in the same town as me, who I can go to, and lift the perfect mommy veil, showing her my warts and scars motherhood brings.

She tells me, “Yeah, I get it.” That’s all I need to hear.

In the distance, I see the magic rainbow – and the beauty of it doesn’t make me feel better – it’s the realization that I can’t see the rainbow all the time that makes me feel better, because it’s raining – the hard hail storm pellets of motherhood.

The beauty, the heart wrenching worry, the deli-thin slices lost to the big ole’ hoagie of motherhood, another bite, another part of myself, as I knew it, gone.

But the rainbow comes out, as my toddler makes ambulance siren pitch sounds right in my ear, and talking toddler gibberish.  I see it.  I can smell it (or is that me who smells who has not showered or brushed my teeth this morning). I taste it.  I touch it.  I feel it (his toddler arms are wrapped around my neck as I write this).  This is the texture of motherhood – smooth, rough, splintered, cool, hot, layered in the mosaic of mother’s love.

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Photo by Sara Turner

Happy Mother’s Day.

Mother’s day will be the day to celebrate love

“Mother’s Day is your day to celebrate the way you choose. This day for us single women is all about recognizing the amazing life we have created. Celebrate yourself. You are a strong amazing woman. Take pride in that.”

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flickr/KazAndrew

 

I never wanted to celebrate Mother’s Day – I never saw much point in it. Not as a child and not once I’ve became a mother myself. What is there to celebrate? And yet – this year I decided to start celebrating it.

At first it seemed that a lot of women would agree with my negative attitude towards this holiday. For example, would you be looking forward to it if you were a single mom of a very young child? Would you celebrate this day at all?

“Mother’s Day as a single mom has been like a box of chocolates. And by that I mean the cheap kind.” One mom says. “It’s a hard day for me, quite frankly.”

Another woman shares, “because I have to do all of the work. I cook, I entertain, and I try to celebrate my own mother. I usually end up feeling exhausted on the day that I should be given a break”.

“I love my children more than anything, but to be honest, what I could really use on Mother’s Day, is a break!  A day alone.”

The number of moms dreading Mother’s Day is astounding. The grass is not greener on the married mothers side either. A survey by a gift retailer revealed that nearly half of mothers don’t like their presents, and according to ABC News, more married women join cheating websites the day after Mother’s Day than any other day of the year.

Are there mothers who actually enjoy this holiday? And if yes, what do they do or think differently? What is it that they are looking forward to? Breakfast in bed? Flowers? A recent poll by Babyzone.com asked their visitors this question. The overwhelming majority of nearly 2000 participants wanted to spend a great day together with the whole family (40%) or to treat themselves to a day in a SPA (26%), closely followed by an entire day of napping (14%).  Check out Spa Source they offer facial beds/massage tables that can be used in your day spa, salon or private skin care practice.

“With crazy schedules, school, sports, work, we use it as a time to be together, not for alone time. I can go to the spa any time I want. On Mother’s Day, I want to spend it with the person who gave me the opportunity to be a mother on Mother’s Day, my daughter!”

My best friend is a single mom of a 4-year-old girl. Her husband died two years ago and my friend is still not really over her loss. When I asked her about the upcoming Mother’s Day, I was quite surprised to find out that she was looking forward to celebrating it.

“Mother’s Day is your day to celebrate the way you choose. This day for us single women is all about recognizing the amazing life we have created. Celebrate yourself. You are a strong amazing woman. Take pride in that.”

When I looked around I quickly discovered that the group of dissatisfied mothers mostly was complaining about not getting the right present, or no gift at all. Those who felt that their families should thank mothers for all the hard work were disappointed quite often.

Women who were very positive about Mother’s Day focused on pro-actively celebrating their relationship with children, grandparents and friends. As one mom has put it,

“I think we should be celebrating our mothers, and even our sisters, daughters, grandmothers and aunts on Mother’s Day.“

The more positive accounts about happy Mother’s Days I read the more I want to celebrate it myself.

As one of the moms suggested to me, “go with your child and do something fun together. Go to a park and have a picnic. Talk with your child and let them know how much you appreciate them. Write a letter to your baby or child and tell them how you feel about being their mommy!”

And this is exactly what I am going to do this year – I will start a tradition in our house. Mother’s Day will be a day to celebrate love. The most selfless and enduring love on Earth – mother’s love to her children.

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