Writing featured on tanya-b, urban legends.
Our Mothering Ways, non-advice-advice
Mothers are doers, teachers, nurturers, and lovers whose heart/s literally beat/s outside of her chest. There’s plenty of prepping and prodding taking place while the babe grows inside the womb. Mothers are inundated with countless questions, what to do, what not to do, unwelcome belly pats, and endless advice pouring from the aisles at Target to web threads on mothering boards.
People are fascinated by babies, rather, growing babies. I think most people are coming from a loving place and mean all too well, but sometimes the interest in the ever-expanding belly can be too much. As my belly grew, as did the “mama-bear” within me. I don’t think I ever swatted someone’s hands away from touching my body more than when I was pregnant.
Hey world, what’s up with that?
The personal questions and the “shoulds” swarmed my pregnancy and it didn’t stop when the little guy was born.
“Natural birth or c-section?”
“Breastfeeding or formula?”
“Circumcise or not?”
“Cloth diapers or not?”
“Attachment parenting or not?”
“Don’t let your baby sleep on his belly. Don’t forget the tummy time. Make sure he eats every two hours. Babies really like to be swaddled, make sure he's snug. Your baby is 3 days old? What are you doing out of the house?! You should be home, it’s recommended you stay home for 3 months!”
“Enjoy every moment. It all happens so fast.”
…and so on.
When a baby is born, a mother is born. There’s no manual, no book, no advice in the world that teaches us how-to-mother. It comes from this innate ability, it’s primal. It’s not kept under labels, advice columns, or mommy groups. Mothering doesn’t fall to the demands textbook theories and finger-pointing.
Motherhood is real and glorious and hard and beautiful. It’s not perfect and often slips your rug out from beneath you just as you start to feel comfortable in your mom-groove.
People don’t talk about the hard parts of parenting or share what’s real. The days where hearing the word “mom” sounds pierced, or the days you’ve swept the same floor over and over, the days you spent eating over the kitchen sink nearly every meal, or the days that your child is “that child” at the market. You know “that child” at the market, the one you swore as a childless-parenting-expert that you’d never have one of those or certainly one that would have a meltdown in aisle 3. They don’t tell you that being a mom is messy. Because on your hardest days, it’s difficult to admit you’ve not showered or have oatmeal crusted yoga pants. Or that there is a period of mourning our old selves, the ease of flying out the door, and ruling your bedtime. And often times we are looking at the other moms thinking how easy they make it look, how well-behaved their children act, or how clean and kept they all appear. Assumed perfection based from life reels, and sometimes quiet negotiations. From societal pressures, to cultural, and traditional. Sometimes we lose sight of ourselves because we feel inferior in our own place in motherhood.
As women, let’s get real. And really honest. By pretending our lives are perfect with perfect children, perfect birth story, perfect vaginas, with a perfect sex life after children. We do a disservice to women all around when we don’t speak up. We owe it to ourselves to say what’s real and support each other even in the smallest of ways. Offer a kind glance at the mom in aisle 3, hold the door open for the giant stroller, listen to each other, and heck - bring a cooler of beer or a wine to the playground for the other mamas. May we honor each other by celebrating our differences in our mothering ways.
Being a mom is one of the most incredible and humbling experiences. I’ve learned to guide the day with my heart, trust my instincts, say yes to the pulls of love, and to the things that don’t feel right. Watching my son grow, is like watching a beam of light. Eyes bouncing as he prances and plays and plots. I’ve learned to slow down. I’ve learned to use my sensitivity and lessen my numbing ways. I’ve learned a heck of a lot about patience and living in gratitude. I’ve learned to love myself in ways I never imagined through loving my son.
My non-advice-advice is that there is no advice in the world.
We each have our own mothering ways.
From me to you, I’ll keep it real, honest, and loving. Sharing the highs, lows, and everything between.
To the mamas, I toast a glass and raise an ear to you.