The Well-Tailored Gown of Motherhood
It took me a good long while to reach a place where I could confidently say that having kids was one of the best things that had ever happened to me. It seemed like every other woman I knew who had recently become a mother had no problem saying it at all- like motherhood was just the most natural thing for them to embrace. I remember wondering what was broken inside of me, that I couldn’t so quickly agree… that I wasn’t so 100 percent sure from the very start.
For the first couple years after I became a mother, I really wasn't so sure. I have always loved my kids with everything in me, from the tip of my head to the bottom of my feet. But the reality of the day-to-day, moment-by-moment sacrifice that motherhood required of me was… a bit of a shock. I mean, I knew it was going to be hard and I knew it was going to change everything, but I didn’t really know. How could I have? No one had ever required so much of me before! I think I’d had this picture in my head of me juggling… I’d add a ‘motherhood’ ball into the mix and just keep on smiling! But instead of a ball, it was like someone tossed me a giant boulder and I realized that my juggling days were going to be put on hold for awhile.
I honestly believe it took two to three years for me to properly mourn the loss of my “old life” and my “old self.” I realize now that the mourning period was necessary for me. There was grief in the process, though it felt like there had been no grief in it for most of the women around me. It was okay for me to grieve. It was okay for them not to! Some parents don't need two or three years to come to terms with their new identities as mothers and fathers. Some parents might even need a bit longer.
I remember how it felt when I realized I had finally shimmied my way into the final stage of “acceptance” when motherhood began to feel more like a well-tailored gown rather than the shrunken woolen sweater I felt like I was forcing myself into in the early days. I could finally put my arms down! I could do a quick twirl and feel like a million bucks! There was no ‘magic moment’ when that happened, it was more of a slow and steady transformation. The change had been imperceptible to me, until one day I looked in the mirror and knew that it was true. The gown was gorgeous. Becoming a mother really and truly was one of the best things that had ever happened to me.
My gown won’t look just like yours and I can guarantee that yours won’t look like hers, or hers, or hers! We are all so quick to agree that every child is different and unique, yet we are so SLOW to believe that about our own selves as mothers. Every gown is different, just as every woman is different. What a glorious truth! Who wants to show up to a party wearing the same dress as everyone else?
We parent with what we've got and we've been given all that we need. It took me three years to believe that for myself. I can now confidently say, “I wouldn't have it any other way!” My children have made me a better person, a better wife, a better friend and a better daughter. They have shown me deep things about myself and the world that I might never have stooped down or paused to see. They’ve made me laugh until I cried. They have forced me out of my many (treacherous) comfort zones and amplified some of my very best qualities that I didn’t even know I had inside of me.
If you are feeling as I once did, I hope this is an encouragement to you. Sweet mamas, have patience with yourself and with the process. Lean hard on the people you love. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And know, above all, that you’re most definitely not alone.