On Being at Odds With That Which Has Made You Whole


Motherhood hasn’t been something that’s come naturally to me.  It’s been a learning process, an excavation of sorts, or quest to find a piece of myself that’s needed unearthing and developing. I find it sometimes when I look at my boys. Looking at them these days is like being able to go back in time and see the glimpses of the child I was…and recognize what aspects of parenting and life I was not prepared for or nurtured in by my parents.

There are moments though, when I feel completely connected to it, more at ease with mothering and less at odds with it. I looked at my children tonight as the older two chased each other around the mall and felt my grip on this part of my reality was steady. Life with 3 is constantly unbalanced, but in that moment I felt a steadying rhythm carrying me through the frenzied chaos. I let go of an exhale I hadn’t realized I had been holding in. I stood in the Lego store, watching them play, my husband carrying our baby, and I felt my heart swell.

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As tough as it is and as odd as it feels to be their mother at times, I love them. They are pieces of my heart and strands of my DNA existing autonomously outside of my own body, thus reaffirming for me that Nature and the way she orchestrates the evolution of humanity is simply miraculous. It is mind blowing to me to bear witness daily to parts of myself evolving into new life and a new being. I’m also fairly certain this is Nature’s way of helping us forget about the invasion and conquering that is pregnancy.

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I never planned on having children, so the fact that I have 3 almost feels like I’ve been punked by one of those “never say never” situations. I remember being 18 in the women’s underwear section of Target with my mother and sister, arguing with my mother that I didn’t “owe” her any grandchildren. I had absolutely nothing to do with the physical event that led to my conception; that was purely her choice and I was determined then that mine would be absolutely no biological children. I preferred adoption, if I decided to have children at all. The aspiring world changer in me, freshly graduated from high school, had her sights set on joining the Peace Corp and from there, who knew where life would take me. I wanted to be free as a bird, on the front lines of a cause, making my voice heard, putting my hands to work for others, advancing justice while rocking out to Prince. Children? Pfffft.

Yet here I am at almost 32, putting my hands to picking up the mayhem and chaos that comes with having children-all over our apartment. A USAF veteran, I never made it to the Peace Corp, opting instead to let my mother convince me to go to community college and stay home for a year instead. I don’t necessarily regret being led by the heart strings she pulled on me back then, but the part of me that aspired to change the world when I was 18 is still buried in there underneath all the layers and nuances motherhood has carved and etched into my being, wishing I was doing more, hoping I’ll still do some kind of good in the lives others…even if that means just raising my three boys to be empathetic world citizens who will love and do for people unconditionally while living out their own dreams and passions.

My boys are each special in their own way to me, each one teaching me something about myself that causes me to grow, heal and evolve into a more embodied and healthy version of myself. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m approaching a year postpartum and as I look at my youngest, I’m in awe at both how fast he has grown and at how being his mother has sparked further growth in me these past 12 months. He’s going to be my last, at least biologically anyway. While I am not sad to see him nearing his first birthday and becoming less of a baby already, I do find myself reminiscing about his first days and trying desperately to permanently imprint those memories into my soul so they don’t become a blur like so many others have. 10678760_316667691858779_2233790929128988951_n

He is my last, and he fits perfectly in our family. He made us five and in a short amount of time, he’s taught us how to make five work. He is The King. He captivates. He’s a keen observer of all that’s around him. He watches the processes of Life intently. The social butterfly. Mr. He Wants to Party All the Time. Always wants to be in the mix. He must know everything. He knows what he wants and automatically assumes yours is his. Fearless. The Hulk. The most expressive and attached -far more than his older brothers ever were. The Baby. Small in size but mighty in attitude and presence. He tells you exactly what he’s thinking. Firecracker. Can launch any object an alarming distance. Wild. He is so wild, this one. 10385474_311737342351814_4407353976470674699_n (1)

And? He has become my anchor. His love steadies me and despite all of the anxiety and the chaos and unbalance that comes with having 3, the way he looks at me with such love in his eyes grounds me. Brennan teaches me empathy, how love heals, and what it looks like when love lives free. Alex teaches me how powerful love can be as a catalyst for growth, stretching, increased capacity, self-confidence, and rebirth. And this one, Austin…he is teaching me how love roots and embodies. He’s teaching me how to reach and connect to the joy that lives deep down in my center, beyond the shit life builds up on my surface. He’s teaching me how to thrive in the midst of any circumstance, and to resist the call to shrink back and just be content with survival.

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He is the joy that creates the cracks for the light to creep in and reach for me in the dark. He is beauty from pain, this one, my last. I saw that today as I stood in the Lego store, exhaling and feeling rhythm carry me. I felt it pulse through me as I stood holding him in my arms and in between his older brothers as they raced their wheeled Lego constructions around my legs.

I may have never planned on being a mother, but being one, especially to these three, has birthed a wholeness in me that I don’t think I would’ve found on any other front line.

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23 thoughts on “On Being at Odds With That Which Has Made You Whole

  1. This mix of feelings if my experience. Having kids has made me a better person and I absolutely adore my kids AND it is harder and breaks me more than I ever thought it would.

  2. I really loved the passage about finding balance in a life that feels unbalanced at times. Those moments are the ones I cherish, when the chaos fades into a contented sort of calm.

  3. beautiful piece! I do take issue with this line though, “the part of me that aspired to change the world when I was 18 is still buried in there underneath all the layers…”
    Maybe you don’t realize this because you are busy living life, but you change the world every day. You have done SO much to advocate for mothers and women with mental health struggles. There are families who owe chapters of their lives to you. So while maybe it is not the path of world change you set out on, you have changed this world – for the better. And I thank you for it.

  4. Wonderfully written.
    I share some of the feelings that you have for your third child. Of course my kids are all special and loved equally, but there’s is just something extra special that my youngest brings to my family.

  5. I never wanted to be a mother ever. I am as shocked as anyone that it happened and this is my life. I never wanted kids, I didn’t really bond with my fetus, I was questioning myself and regretting keeping the pregnancy up until the minute my daughter was born. And then? I was a mom. And what are you gonna do, you know? You love them despite everything, in spite of everything. Love love love. Changes everything.

  6. Great post! I’m not at the mother stage yet, but you bring out a good point. As much as parents help children to grow, they can help us learn more about ourselves. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I came across this post randomly…but wow this is awesome! I’m 26 now and can so relate to your 18 y/o self..about Peace Corps, finding adventure and wanting to change the world. I still struggle with the idea of having children but man, you make it sound wonderful!

  8. I came across this post randomly…but wow this is awesome! I’m 26 now and can definitely relate to your 18 y/o old..Peace Corps, seeking adventure, and wanting to change the world. I still struggle with the thought of having kids but you make it sounds wonderful!

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