A question on my mind lately. For the majority of my 20’s I did not want to have children or motherhood, even in committed relationships, the thought didn’t cross my mind. Career and travel were my focus, I did not want anything to threaten my freedom. As I watched my high school friends give birth and post on Facebook I buried myself in studies of health, coaching, and languages. I wondered if that would ever be me but quickly my judgments stepped in saying “Babies are for them and not for me.”
Now in my 30’s and married to a man who loves children and has a big kid inside him. I feel an opening to the possibility of children AND still have some hesitations, I wanted to explore more. Gertrude Lyons, MA, MA from the Wright Foundation hosted a motherhood workshop and I willingly signed up. I was surprised at what I learned about myself and beliefs of motherhood.
We discussed myths about motherhood, I found I had four serious myths that needed busting.
1) As mothers we need to put the needs of our children before our own: Some mothers put the needs of their children first and believe wholeheartedly it is the best way. Others believe they must care for themselves first and then their children will feel more nourished. I don’t know what is best or right. I now see I was judging and fearful of becoming a mother who loses herself in her children. I believed a baby would completely change my life and I would have to focus all my energy on them. A truer story – the way you want to mother and meet needs is our choice. With children or not we are all humans with needs that desire tending to. We can invite a child into our life and do the things we love.
2) There is a right way to parent: It seems like everyone has something to say about parenting. There are “how to” books, articles, neighbors, friends and family members all itching to share how they have done it. This is a myth – there is NO right way to parent. Each of us is from a different background, had a different life experience and were raised uniquely. I am a shy nervous goofy person – this is probably how I will parent, even if I try my darndest not to. A truer story – most of us will end up parenting very similar to our own parents let go of the idea “I will never do this or do that.” I am learning to embrace the style my mother parented me and build awareness about what I liked and disliked.
3) A stay at home mom is a lack of intelligence, motivation or competency: This one hit home. Yes, I judged my friends who decided to leave their jobs and lives to sit home with a baby. It was easy to look down from my pedestal and snicker when a stay at home mom had the audacity to mutter the words “I am busy.” I felt they just couldn’t handle it. At this workshop, I heard a truer story – women who choose to stay home are exercising their freedom. They also are pushing up against modern society and lack of protection laws we have in the United States. She makes a conscious choice to stay home with her children. Not I will practice my freedom of staying home for the first few months.
4) If I get everything all organized and prepared motherhood will be happier. Gertrude stated, “The first thing mothers often hear is are you taking your prenatal vitamins.” I believed this myth, preparing for motherhood means popping a vitamin, a strict bed schedule, and painting a baby room. I notice that if I do not have everything over prepared in my life I feel inadequate. Strive for happiness, be prepared. A truer story – being happy during motherhood is a choice. For me, it is talking about what I am feeling about parenthood with my husband, coming together to make decisions for our family, and letting go of a little control.
I did not realize the myths I was holding tightly to were preventing me from seeing my capacity as a mother and a woman. Bearing children or not, each woman has a special gift of maternal instinct. It shows itself in one way or another, even if we try to hide it. We swoon at puppies, hug a friend when they are going through a hard time, or feel heartbroken when a kid is injured. As women we desire to share love with the world, we show it in different ways through careers, music or our relationships and some of us love pregnancy.
Today, I feel more ready to be a mother just through learning what I was reactive to and afraid of. After leaving the motherhood workshop I am more able to share my feelings about being a mom. Now I already know I am a mother in my own way even if I am not breastfeeding at this moment.
Did this article touch you? Do you have questions about motherhood or your relationship? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or share this article with a friend asking themselves these questions.