To Leave the Nest


Thoughts On Motherhood, 16 Years In

When you’re pregnant, other parents try to warn you how your life will change…and it does.

But no one can explain exactly how being a mother is completely encompassing, starting from the moment there are two lines or a plus sign on a stick.

In my case, pregnancy and gestational diabetes meant I had to watch every morsel of food I put in my mouth. With the youngest child, it was low iron. Already it was clear that they would need (and take) so much from me.

Then trying to breastfeed and failing miserably, and listening as my doctor and others tried to talk me out of the guilt. A miscarriage between children brought me to my knees but I had to pull myself together anyway for a child already predicting that I’d give her a sister.

A divorce and single parenthood meant even more of me, more sacrifices and trying to be a mother-split-in-two between babies that needed reassurance, dedication, consistency, and safety.

I gave up my career for motherhood. My focus shifted, whether I wanted it to or not, to the ever-changing and ever-present needs of the little people I was sending out into the world. Even when I tried to bring a career back on track, I gave it up again so I could be home before and after school, on those days when school was out or when they were home sick.

Now they are blossoming and looking ahead with trepidation at their own futures and career choices. They carry so much stress and concern over the next few years of their life but, once again, they aren’t carrying it alone. Just like during pregnancy, they’re relying on my strength, my choices, my guidance, to help them step forward.

Every decision that I make affects them. This is why I work from home. This is why I’ve been in a long distance relationship for 8 years. This is why I choose the foods I eat, the music I listen to, the news I read, the votes I cast… it’s for them.

No one ever tells you that pregnancy grows not only a child but YOURSELF, a mother. Once that child begins to fill you up, you are never the same. “Your heart walks on the outside of you.” And every mother knows the truth of this.

Recently and over the next few years, they are asking (and requiring me to give) the toughest gift of all: Trust.

How to trust, to guide, to allow them their own….everything….and in the process, rebuild myself from the inside out, gradually reclaiming all that they needed from me?

It’s exhausting, exhilarating, terrifying, pride-filled, consuming, frustrating, entertaining, thankless, guilt-ridden, and the most loving experience of my life. My goodness, I feel completely maddened by motherhood and I could never imagine NOT being so damn crazy about them too.

Categories:   family, parenthood