Blog Series: Motherhood - Still Figuring it out
When I was asked to be part of a blog series for the relaunch of my friend's blog about womanhood (The Kentologist) I couldn't have been more excited. It was just the kick in the pants I needed to get back on track. As the days got closer I really started thinking about what I was asked to do. To tell my story about Life, Love & Goals in Motherhood. When you are asked to speak on a journey that started seven thousand and twenty-two days ago, how do you pick a starting point without writing a novel? It is safe to say that I was starting to feel anxious. You see at this present moment I am a wife and the mom to 3 girls and step-mom to 1 girl and 2 boys. I feel like I have had two lives concerning being a mom. So I asked myself again, where do I begin?
The only place fitting is on day 1. February 13th, 1997 I officially became a mom. I don’t know if it was the naivety of my youth or what but I wasn’t really scared. To be honest I think my dad was more scared for me than anyone. I was a 17-year-old high school senior and now someone's mom. I can remember that day so clearly. I was 2 weeks late from my due date and my dad dropped me, my 19-year-old brother and my mom off at the hospital at 6 am. He didn’t even get out the car. He said “call me when she's here” and he left for work. My brother was my coach and helped me through the entire delivery. Why he was so excited is beyond me but I love him for it. He was my rock through the whole process.
My mom was nervous as well. Apparently, she thought she was doing a good job hiding it from me. Aside from the tears at work with her closest friends. I also saw her crying while she was looking out the window of my hospital room. She’s a crier she can’t help it, but I know she was scared for me. Delivery was a success and it was time to do this thing called motherhood. Time to be a mom. That same day my mom had to leave Philly and go to North Carolina for my aunt's wedding. Oh boy, my dad was so upset. He said, “She will be home from the hospital before you get back! Who is going to help her with this baby?” As calm as she could my mom answered and said, “Dan, she will figure it out.”
That started and set the tone for my life in Motherhood. I have a great support system but figuring it out has always been my job. It's what I did and still, do best. I went through the rest of my teens and twenties as a single parent. During that period of my life, my main goal was to provide for my daughter. I had no clear direction on career goals, passion or purpose. That was all centered around her. Right after high school graduation my parents, me and my daughter moved to South Carolina and later I left and moved back to Philly to really be on my own.
I'll admit it, life was hard as hell! I had support but I wanted to prove to myself and others that I GOT THIS! Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed my twenties and I and my daughter grew up together we built our relationship and had lots of laughs and fun. There were also lots of tears, stress, and bouts of depression (self-diagnosed). As a mom, you push that aside and keep pressing forward. During those years I married and divorced and learned so much about myself. Divorce, well that's a story for a future post. No matter if it's the BEST and I do mean, THE BEST, thing for me and my daughter, it just does something to you. To your spirit. It changes you in a way you never expected. It also sent me from Philly back to SC where my parents had been living since I graduated high school.
I’d like to say that my experience as a teen mom/single mom was different from these most recent years of motherhood. However, I can’t. Of course the obvious is different, I have a husband who helps me with our kids, I don’t make all the decisions on my own concerning them and I have to share their love with another parent on a regular basis. Other than the obvious I am still the same mom with a little more insight and a lot less partying.
October 7th, 2012 I became the mom of two girls. I think I was more nervous the 2nd time around. What am I going to do with a baby? My kid is grown. How do you even make formula? What about my dreams? Is that selfish? Just as I wrapped my mind around starting from scratch and accepted 18 more years of raising a child. Surprise! You are 3 months pregnant with another baby. Yes, I was already 3 months before I knew I was pregnant. September 18th, 2014 I had my 3rd girl. So here I am today 36 with a daughter in college and 1 still in diapers still trying to figure it out.
I would love to say I have it all together. I would love to tell my mom friends after baby number 1 the rest is a piece of cake. A lot of new moms are looking for answers from moms with grown children. How did you do it? What's the secret? Am I doing it right? Am I a good mom? Well, here you go, ladies, the big secret. The answer to all your questions. Are you ready? We still don’t have it figured it. Honestly, that's it. This is a moment by moment thing. I didn’t raise my oldest nor will I raise the youngest exactly as my mother raised me. In turn, she didn’t raise me exactly how my grandmother raised her. You have to figure out what YOUR values are. What life lessons do you want to teach your kids? They are yours and you have a choice and a say. Raise them how you want, feed them what you want. Bedtime can be 8 pm or 10 pm. Let them sleep with you or make them cry it out. There is no right or wrong. Just love them through it and it will all come together.
I really hope you aren’t just counting down the days till they turn 18 and graduate high school. Let’s face it based on the number of times in a week I call my own mom for advice or the number of tearful “what am I going to do” conversations with her, I realized you are never done being a mother. Motherhood is that forever club you don’t get to walk away from. The dynamics of your relationship may change but you will always be on call. To give someone a reality check, to give them a shoulder to cry on or to celebrate in their most epic moments. So cut yourself a little slack, you never figure it all out. You just adapt.
The only major difference from the 17-year-old mom and the 36-year-old mom is that I make time for myself. I allow myself to have personal goals, passions & dreams. In order to teach my kids self-confidence or how to be themselves unapologetically, I have to show my kids that it's OK to be different by being different myself. It's OK to have dreams that aren’t cookie cutter. It's also OK to have cookie cutter dreams too. While I still deal with a little mommy-guilt from time to time while pursuing my own dreams (it's natural). I know that them seeing me being me and being happy is more effective than anything I could ever physically give them. Inspire your kids, show them that the possibilities are endless.Don't just tell them. Show them. Your kids deserve the kind of mom that isn’t afraid to try and isn’t afraid to fail. I try to be as transparent with my kids as possible. I don't hide hard realities of life. I am not afraid to cry in front of them. Believe me, they are smarter than you think and way more resilient than we give them credit for.
Before this post moves from short story to novel let me remind you of one last thing. Yes, you are a mother, you're stuck with that title, pretty much forever. Just don’t forget you are a woman too. Being a mom is as much about womanhood as it is motherhood.Whether it's in Life, Love or Goals, allow yourself grace, to make mistakes and try again, to not know the answer and to figure it out as you go.
If you haven't already go check out Day 1 and Day 2 of the Blog series with some of my mom friends:
Life, Love, Goals: Before Motherhood (Breakfast.Board)
Life, Love, Goals: During Pregnancy (Mollies Ruby)
Please share your experiences in the comments. Also, there is a chance to win a great giveaway for taking the time to share. Cheers to all the mothers figuring it out!