Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Accepting Mamahood

I think I've been talking a lot about this lately. I don't remember if I've been blogging about it as much as I've been thinking, thinking, thinking about it but acceptance is what this post is all about.

During my retreat I finally came to the realization that God (or however you feel comfortable taking it) has indeed 'called' me to be a mother.

How is this different than me choosing to be a mother?

Well, as humans we all have the opportunity to have children (whether biologically, adoptively, or spiritually). You do not need to physically give birth, go through lawyers and paperwork, or be given permission by someone to take on the responsibility of helping someone grow as a human being. At any given time you can develop a bond with another person and take on a parenting role which provides the necessities of life.

As I've mentioned before I've always felt the desire to be a mother. No doubt much of it came from the natural womanly instinct to do so. I think that many of us come pre-programmed to naturally want this, it is pretty much all over our bodies.

However somewhere along the road (I've mentioned how) this changed for me and the fear of child rearing overcame any sense I had to step into the realm of procreation.

The fact that I am not a fairytale thinker makes the image of having children even less appealing.

I once loved the idea of becoming a mommy because it meant someone (in the ideal situation) would love me, someone would need me, I would get to stay home and be all Martha Stewarty (though after her stint in prison doesn't sound all that positive), ultimately I would get make and be someone's world. For some reason this idea appealed to me (in this moment I can't for the life of me figure out why).

Once reality hit I woke up and saw what motherhood was really like and the pendulum swung in the opposite direction.

Then when I thought of mother hood I thought of all of the same things that I mentioned earlier but in a different light. Someone would love me - now meaning I could hurt them when I screwed up or was absent. Someone would need me - therefore being absent wasn't really an option (at least not if you wanted to be a good parent). I would get to stay home all day - like Martha Stewart, be imprisoned and never get to leave.

Suddenly my perspective changed. All the things I once saw as the reasons to become a mother quickly became my reasons NOT to become a mother. Thus putting me in a rather difficult position. To make a choice.

I have had several conversations with people (predominantly mothers) about this topic and have not had one of them give me a straight answer.

I've heard 'You'll know when you know' (Great, thanks I'll keep waiting then for the lightning bolt and pray it doesn't hit when I'm 75). I've also heard 'Some people are meant to have kids and some aren't' (Ok so it that a hint?). Then there's been the 'You're never ready to have kids, just do it!' (Alright, so I shouldn't finish college first?). And then there's 'If you aren't positive DON'T do it because once they are here they are here' (so I'm off the hook then?). And I can't leave out the 'You're only 30 don't worry about it now!' (Yeah I get that but I also know first hand that once I'm 35 things change a lot in regards to pregnancy and adoption itself does not happen overnight).

None of these responses ever made me feel closer to knowing what to do. I mean Wally and I did give the natural thing a chance for a little while so it's not like we had been completely closed to the idea but now that we feel that the ball is entirely in our court knowing what to do is more difficult. Do you go ahead and adopt? Do you take this thing as a sign that you are 'off the hook' for the parent thing and breathe a huge sigh of relief? Or do you forge ahead because society expects every household with a thirty something couple to have two kids and a couple of pets?

No answers were coming to me.

A couple of months ago when I was maxed out with stress I e-mailed a friend of mine about my stress dilemma compounded with Wally showing the beginnings of wanting a family. Suddenly the tables were turning and Wally was the one ready for kids and I was finally preparing myself for a life of 'freedom' from the task. I asked my friend what was wrong with me and that I felt like I was going crazy.

I remember not feeling very appeased by his response, instead I felt the responsibility to open myself up to the idea of kids. I was not impressed. I was stressed out and then being asked to consider torturing myself with MORE possible stress.

I will admit I felt even more conflicted after that over the kid thing but another suggestion he had was to get away and relax. After ignoring his advice on reconsidering the parent thing (instead I just let it be), I did decide he could be onto something with the relaxing thing.

After my post on having the 'Sads' and again hearing from others that a get away would be wise, I made a commitment to do so and I did.

By that point I had to let the kid thing go. Wally wasn't pressing at all and I just wasn't getting any clarity about it and we weren't in a rush. Also, after I met with Sasha and heard her honest take on motherhood and life as a parent I definitely felt that the decision wasn't getting any easier (By the way I love that Sasha is as honest about mommydom as I am about marriage - we're like the two people you need to talk to before making those decisions, just an FYI).

Anyways, I finally took time off and went away by myself to relax and get renewed. I finally admit another goal I have and feel as though my retreat may ignite some insight into it. And what do I get? A reminder about the kid thing. In fact, even more than a reminder, confirmation. I am indeed to be a mother.

Usually when people find out they can't have kids (and again I can't say Wally and I are in that particular boat, we still proceed in life expecting that we could very well be able to), they are at the point when they know it's right for them, they know it's what they want.

For me, I had headed in the opposite direction. The direction of 'I don't want to do what I want to do, because sometimes what I want isn't the best thing for me. So if I'm supposed to be a mom I need to be told that's what I should do, but someone who knows best. Otherwise I'd be making a hasty selfish decision (not that having kids is necessarily selfish, but for many people it is; they want to have the appearance of the perfect family, they want to be loved by someone, or they want what society says they should have, instead of seeing it as the biggest sacrifice they could make though I know you do get a lot out of it).

I didn't want to get into parenthood for the wrong reasons and then resent my kid(s) for taking away what I just acquired: a job, time with my husband, the joy of writing, and certain self realizations. (Oh yeah, and sleep, not that I get tonnes of it but I enjoy what little I get).

I basically didn't want to shoot myself in the foot. (Sorry parents if this sounds horrific, I'm just being honest).

Needless to say I was a bit surprised that within the first couple of hours of my retreat God revealed this to me.

How do I know it was God? Because all of the doubts I had before in myself have completely vanished, and I have peace now that I NEVER EVER had while wrestling oer every wandering possibility. I am now entering the thoughts of being a mom kind of like a job, that was given to me by an expert on the topic. You know as well as I do if someone you admire for doing something well tells you they think you'd be great at it your confidence sky rockets.

I know to some degree what to expect, while at the same time I have no idea at all. I know that I won't sleep. I know that I may or may not have what society considers a 'normal' child. I all of a sudden know that I can still work on my degree and be a mom (it won't be easy but people do it). I know that I can work if I want to and be a mom. I know that there will be situations I just don't know the answer to but that's normal. And that I'll screw up often but I'm pretty sure that's what parents are supposed to do (not intentionally).

I know that I probably won't ever have a clean house again, or clean clothes for that matter. I know that I will have days when I don't think I can take any more (I'm starting to think that you have those no matter what though). I know that it'll be the hardest thing I will ever do. I know that I will likely wonder at times if I heard God correctly.

Most of all I will know I didn't make this decision alone. That gives me more peace about this than anything else. Because if I didn't have to make this decision alone, it means the one asking me to do this won't make me do it alone (of course I do remember tat Wally is apart of this too).

It's with this knowledge that I am accepting this realization.

As I am walking through other dreams I have and trying to live them out I am realizing the incredible gift of acceptance. It should not go unappreciated.

Many people never accept the gifts they are given because they don't believe they deserve them, or they don't feel as though they know what to do with them so in turn they run from them. They never accept them.

I was running because I was scared. Scared that I didn't have this particular gift, that is wasn't for me. But it was. It is. And now that I know this I accept it and all that I will learn from it.

Now I need to say that for me I believe motherhood is a gift. For you it may be something else.

It may be singleness giving you freedom as wide as the ocean (this gift is way undersold), it may be a life full of love for a partner that grows in ways unknown by those with other distractions. You may be called to travel the world and serve those in places I've never seen. You may be gifted to learn and teach.

I could go on and on.

Know that as you give them back to God, the desires of your heart will be met and I think, surpassed.

Don't get me wrong, in one way I am still scared senseless to enter this world. I mean I am not into pastels, baby talk, or talking about my 'plug'. Lord willing I can get by all of this without any of it occurring. I know that however I become a mother He will once again meet me where I'm at and give me what I need to do the job the best way I can.

Maybe we can settle on primary colours ... I'm really not a traditionalist, if you hadn't caught on to that yet.

(BTW Even though this realization has come Wally and I are making no efforts at this time to make such things occur. I'm just enjoying no longer stressing about making this decision. That's why I'm writing about it).


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to read that my honesty didn't discourage you fully. That's not my intent.

It is however my hope that by sharing some of the "darker" realities of being a parent; new parents (and more experienced ones) will know that what they are going through is so NORMAL.

I struggled a lot as a new mom because I thought I wasn't doing it right. After a few rough months, my friends started being honest with me and I learned that I WAS doing it right! It's hard for everyone.

Hopefully, eventually, the stigma of "easy" parenting will be dropped and we can all be honest.


PS...Maybe we should go into some sort of business together using our honesty about life. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Eva,

I was reading this and I was just wondering if you'd considered adopting an older child? I know you have a gift with girls and older ones aren't so inclined to wake up in the night or use baby talk.

trainspotter said...

This might not mean anything to you but there's something I want to share. I didn't always want to be a mother. In fact, by the time I was 20 I was determined to NEVER be a mother and was convinced that the "mom instinct" wasn't in me. It was in a revelation similar to yours that I felt this change and went on to have my kids. To this day I have not once regretted that decision(and not because it's one big party at my house :). I LOVE being a mom, it turned out to be the perfect job for me and during the difficult moments when I question my abilities, I remember that moment. Hmmm, I'm not sure that's much of a plug for motherhood, but it is what it is!

God knows us better than we know ourselves and all he wants from us is our willingness to follow His direction, whatever that is. We really don't need to stress about the details (even though most of us "control junkies" do), His plan is not a secret and I believe it's far more work to run from his will than to recognize it. Just do what makes sense today, forget about tomorrow :)

Stacy said...

fascinating! let's talk about this in person sometime!