I was sitting at the spray park, talking with a friend as our children were splashing and laughing and exploring. She was sharing some realizations she’s had, part of her transformation journey and her words were pulled right from my soul. Her words were my own unspoken words, my own unacknowledged fears and fights. Her words were her own, of her personal struggle, and they spoke of the struggle of many of us.
The struggle of motherhood. The struggle of being a stay at home mom. The struggle of being a working mom (either outside of inside the home). The struggle of the role of motherhood not being valued by society, by our families and ultimately not being valued by ourselves.
I will not share my friend’s words. They are hers, her story, her journey. I will share what it stirred up in me. What I realized about myself and my own journey in motherhood. As both a “working mom” and a “stay at home mom” and the variations I’ve lived between the two for the last six plus years.
I longed for motherhood in a way I have never longed for anything else in my life. I wanted to be a mom. I wanted a house filled with children, my own and their friends. I wanted to bake cookies and pies and paint on canvases and our bodies and have kiddie pool parties and bar-b-ques with all the families we know. I wanted a life not very different from the life I have now. I dreamed of it, I longed for it with an aching I can’t truly describe.
The day our daughter was born was transformational. To say it was the happiest day of my life is honestly an understatement. I think there are no words for those first moments when we get to hold our child. OUR child. Whether the child came from our bodies or not, those first moments of connection are indescribable. There is joy mixed with terror. Tears pour out in release as we acknowledge everything is different, an acknowledgement that we had made mentally when we knew our child was going to enter our lives, but one that our body hadn’t fully accepted until that moment, when they are in our arms.
We don’t really know how our life is going to be different. We can’t imagine. Everyone can tell us how our lives will change, but until that child is in your life, you really have no fucking clue. And that, I believe is where resistance to this role I longed for, this life I dreamed of, steps in.
I do resist this life of mine. I feel frustration with motherhood. I feel less than because I’m “not contributing” to our household. I feel uninteresting because my focus day and most of the night is my girl and caring for her. I feel angry because the dishes and the laundry and the mess is never-ending.
The Truth is, I love my life now. I love that I get to spend most of my days with my girl, guiding her and being with her and watching her. I love that I can show my love of our family through cooking our meals, through lovingly washing and eventually folding and putting away our clothes. Showing love to our home and the beautiful people who live in it by organizing and vacuuming and every now and then even dusting. I love that I get so many ways, every day, to show the people who mean everything in the world to me just how much I love them.
And the Truth is, I feel shame that I love my life so much.
I was raised to have a career. I was raised that to have value and importance in a home, one must provide financially. I was raised that “women’s work” is uninteresting and boring and ultimately not useful. That being focused on being a mom means not living up to my “potential.” Raising children and maintaining a home shouldn’t be fulfilling and if it is, one is clearly “less than.”
What a bunch of bullshit.
I know it’s bullshit, these myths and stories that I was raised with, that so many of us were raised with. I know the value of raising our children and giving them a home that is safe and filled with love. I logically know all these things and even parts of my heart knows the Truth is in the value of our work as mothers. And yet…
Yet these myths and stories run deep.
These myths and stories have been distracting me without my conscious knowing. I’ve been allowing myself to work on my business or school when it is time for me to focused on my girl. The laptop comes out and I go into a zone, or I have my phone by my side and I constantly check it. Distraction after distraction taking me away from those beautiful moments with my girl, those beautiful moments that flutter away whether I am present in them or not.
These myths and stories have been fueling my anger without me being aware. I’ve been getting angrier and angrier at the dishes and laundry and being “the only one” who picks up and cleans in our home (another myth and story of it’s own, another Untruth). I’ve been picking at my girl and my man, saying unkind words, allowing shame to enter our relationships, shame that is coming from me.
These myths and stories have been feeding my feelings of “less than” and unworthiness and taking me away from the present moment. I’ve been seeking ways to feel valuable, important, worthy. This seeking has lead to unkindness towards friends, family and myself. I have lashed out in ways that I am not proud and in ways that honestly probably no one has even noticed.
All of us have stories and myths that affect us in ways we aren’t consciously aware. These myths and stories drag us down and prevent us from growth and release and joy. These myths and stories feed on the negative emotions they produce, “proving” their “truth.” Once we become aware however, they start to lose power.
It’s the becoming aware that can be the trick, of course. The first step is being open to change, being open to growth, being open to acknowledging our own Truth and struggles when others share their vulnerability with us. Being open to your own vulnerability, to your own pain, to the Truth that you have hurt others in the past–knowingly or unknowingly.
After the talk with my friend on Tuesday so many things became clear–the fear and resistance I had been clinging too, that had been clinging to me. I released tears, acknowledged my own deep-seated fears, shared them with my husband and let him know this wasn’t something for him to fix, it was something for me to simply know, to share. And with the release, and the acknowledgments, space was opened. Space for patience. Space for love. Space for repair–with my friends, my family, myself.
Releasing these myths and stories from our hearts, creates much needed space for the joy, the peace, the beauty of our lives to enter. Releasing opens the space for us to ground, to center.
Being open to acknowledging the stories and myths, to seeing how they play out in our lives, is the first step to our release and growth. This is a huge step into vulnerability. It can be terrifying to do this work, work that puts us in a place of acknowledging the pain we have caused others, the pain that others have caused us. However the only way to release this pain is to move through it. We experience the pain every day, whether we know it or not–it’s not a matter of avoiding the pain, there is no way to avoid it. It is a matter of moving through it so that we can experience the beauty and joy and peace that is on the other side of it.
We cannot do this work alone. This is work that is done in community, in relationship with others. It is work that requires both guidance, support and honesty. If it weren’t for the conversation with my friend on Tuesday I would not have seen my own Truth in her words. If it weren’t for the safety of my relationship with my husband I would not have been able to acknowledge these myths and stories and release them through tears and words. If it weren’t for each of you, I would not have witnesses to my journey–sharing that you and I are not alone, that through our imperfections we are all in this together.
Community. I am called to gather community. I am called to guide others in this deep personal work. I am grateful for those in my life, who I guide and who guide me. Truly, we are all in this together.