I was newly pregnant with my first child when the advice began pouring in. Almost every mother I knew and many that I didn’t had an urge to dole out their best. I listened, smiled, and nodded politely when it came, but I often wasn’t interested. It wasn’t that I thought I knew it all or that I didn’t think there was anything to glean from their experiences. It was that it came in two distinct packages.
Most of the advice was supportive and confidence building. It felt as though there was a group of women waiting in the wings with a reassuring look or gentle nudge should I need it in the future. This advice aided in building strength that I would need to rely on when the world inevitably felt as though it was crashing down around me. It was building a foundation from which I could gain strength.The gist of it was simple – trust myself, trust my body, trust the process.
The remainder was a cautionary tale of all the things I could do to permanently screw up my kid. This advice mocked me and declared with a laugh that I had no idea what I was in for. It told me the right way to hold, feed, bathe and love my child. It seemed endless. From it, I unknowingly let doubt into my motherhood.
I sailed along on my journey – in a boat that I thought was ready to weather the strongest storm any sea could muster. All the while, unknown to me, there were tiny cracks forming along the bottom. As I continued the cracks began to grow – slowly and surely I was taking on water.
My labor began by the book. My water broke and contractions slowly grew to a constant rhythm. I had a birth plan and honestly hadn't considered a different path. I had neglected to give myself permission to change my mind. Hour by hour into the process, the cracks began to grow larger. The water was rising and my doubt was growing. I was told how we would proceed. I agreed and immediately regretted it. With this new weight, my ship sank and the water overtook me. I doubted myself. I was scared. I felt as though I was being pushed down a path and each new step meant I couldn’t go back. I forgot that I had the power to say yes or no or let’s wait. I forgot that it was my choice and I felt as though I had failed.
We mothers have absolute certainty that our children will grow, learn and flourish yet we second guess and question our actions every step of the way.
We remain certain that feet will learn to walk and hands will learn to grasp, but we are in constant search for our flaws for fear that others will find them first.
We all get knocked down, we all struggle, and we all carry the weight of the world on our shoulders.
Let us encourage each other instead of passing judgement.
Let us look to our victories instead of beating ourselves up over the few times we revealed to the world that we, too, are human.
Let us rest at night instead of lying awake picking apart our value by standards that are not attainable.
Let us be a source of strength for new moms and not create doubt in their journey.
Let us be a source of strength for each other.
And when we feel the tinge of doubt – let us ask our babies. For they will reassure us that there is nothing more beautiful, steadfast and powerful than a mother. They see us as we should see ourselves. We are a constant unshakable force with the power to heal wounds and mend broken hearts with a touch of our hands.
They know that mothers are magic.
I think it's time we start believing them.