“You really don’t like being a mother do you?”
In a slow turn to face my child, my mind was racing between is that true, how does he know, and what should I say?
My son was 6, and he was sitting on the stool at the counter, watching me prepare a meal. He rarely was still, and seemed to never be observant. I was aware that he was watching me, so I put on a good show of joyful meal prep. I actually was feeling quite happy at that moment.
His question brought my feigned jubilee to a screeching halt. Time stood still. I turned to face him. He was looking at me in the most soulful way. His bright, big blue eyes held the wisdom, compassion, and knowing of an old Master. He had this way about him, where he would blindside my husband and I with these moments of profound depth and otherworldliness.
So, I knew, as I looked at him, that he already knew.
Lying wouldn’t serve, but neither would the full truth. I didn’t even know the full truth. So, I said what I could; what I knew to be absolutely true at that moment. “I love you more than anything in this world. And being a mother is very hard for me.”
“I know mom. It’s okay.”
And he was gone. Off to play in perpetual motion. And I stood there, shattered, revealed, desperate to find the happy tune that I was humming moments before.
Being a mother was the dissonant chord in the song of my soul.
My mother told me once that being a mother wouldn’t suit me. I was in my 20s and in full expression of my wild and independent nature, traveling in foreign lands by myself, getting a degree, going to festivals alone, doing whatever my brave heart led me to do. I was offended. How dare she claim to know me? I’m not sure if that comment planted a seed of my desire to become a mother, but I know the energy of that comment never left me.
I thought that I knew exactly how to be a perfect mother. For the most part, I would just do what my parents did, softening some of the edges as needed, and bringing rainbows to the shadows as they arose. But I am not my mother, and I am not my father.
Soon, my parenting road map was smudged, tattered, worn, until it was violently ripped from my tear-soaked fingers in a storm of grief.
I thought that being a good mother could be found in the Doing. I cloth-diapered, co-slept, made every food from organic scratch, breastfed on demand, was a whirling devotee to attachment parenting. But it was the Being that my son wanted and needed.
The tornado that was my child was reflecting the chaos that was within me, and it was terrifying. He was a conduit for moving the energy that was stuck in me, and had I realized that, I could have used that insight to help me heal and move forward.
But, I didn’t see him as being in service to my pain. I saw him as the cause of it, as having behavioral issues and problems.
I saw myself clawing my way up the landslide of my old self as it was falling away, desperate to remember who I was B.C. (before child) and capture a fragment of Me as I crumbled. I realized that I needed to let go of the desperate search for bread crumbs that would help me find my way back to who I was, and begin to get to know who I am now. Grieve and be done with it. This was profoundly liberating and brought me right back to my true nature of being wild and free.
“You really don’t like being a mother, do you?”
Well, being a mother has ripped me wide open and shown me parts of myself that I may never have accessed otherwise.
My capacity for love has been expanded beyond comprehension. My capacity for rage has terrified me. I don’t know what to do half the time, and the other half, I just don’t feel like doing it.
I am irritated, tired, distracted, and time is running out. I am afraid that I have damaged you and will damage you. I am terrified that you will hate me. I don’t like the way my body feels now. I am so unsure how to navigate this terrain. I don’t recognize myself anymore. I don’t feel free. I don’t know how to handle your energy. You are the biggest blessing I have ever known. Your existence has taught me so much about the mystery of life already. It is my greatest honor to witness your light, your brilliance, your joyful heart. My gratitude for all of it brings me to my knees.
“I love you more than anything in this world. And being a mother is very hard for me.”