Not that long ago I looked like this:
The next morning this happened:
And 6 months later I look like this:
Wow! What a difference a couple months can make! This has been one of the most confusing chapters I have ever lived through. I wonder if part of my procrastination in getting my blog repaired had to do with my struggle to find the right words to describe what it feels like to be a mom after all these years of not being a mom.
Becoming a mother always seemed like an elusive activity that other women get to do. For many years it was a source of jealousy and longing for me. I believed that babies were something that happy people had, and I may never become one of those people. Motherhood was the ultimate platform for comparison. There were mothers, and there were non-mothers. Non-mothers were not the norm. Non mothers made some people uncomfortable, others might pity them. One by one my girlfriends paired off, and then puffed up with little buns in their ovens, and I felt more and more….different. Alone. Comparing. I spent an achingly large portion of my life defaulting to comparison to others and focusing on what made me different, versus embracing what was uniquely me.
I have told the story many times to the women I have worked with on self esteem issues that my entire life changed in virtually an instant the day I decided to let my propensity for comparison go. I recognized that it was eating me alive, and someone very important pointed out to me that I probably did not find it attractive when I observed other women do that, and do I really want to look like them when I do it. So with this new insight came a passionate decision to embrace the woman I was, instead of the woman I wished I was. One of the main core belief systems this drastic change in perspective began to dissemble, was the concept of “the perfect family.” Instead I began nurturing the radical idea that for all I knew, my purpose on this earth may actually be not to have children, maybe rather to reach people through something I create, achieve, or accomplish….something I bring about in the world rather than something I was given.
One lazy June afternoon up in Lake Placid, I saw a beautiful woman poking around the country store wearing the uniform of a free spirit, jean shorts, cow girl boots, a gauzy blouse, her wild curly blond hair blowing in the summer breeze. She was trailed by a gorgeous little Asian girl intently eating a lolly pop. A sense of calm washed over me, one of those moments in life where you know something has forever shifted, as I thought to myself “family comes in many many forms.” And in that moment, I knew I would never need to fear being alone. My heart was 100% open to whatever life was going to bring me.
And so somewhere along the way between accepting whatever, and letting go of the idea of a “perfect life” as dictated by acquisition of the “perfect family,” I met Todd, and fell in love, and suddenly had my own perfectly imperfect little family, and it made sense to me. After my wedding I faced the notion that I actually could just literally go ahead and make a baby now. This overwhelming concept I had spent 15 years learning to take the power away from, was suddenly very real and very much within my grasp for the first time in my life. I ambivalently moved forward with it, somehow not believing I would actually ever become pregnant, (for this was still something that other people did) and then next thing I know, there I was at 6 am on a Tuesday morning, my hands trembling with a little plus sign blinking up at me, paired the word “yes.”
“Yes” this is really happening. “yes” you are actually going to be a mom. “yes” these types of things can actually happen to someone like you. “Yes” you actually got your original longing desire, just when you weren’t even sure you needed it anymore. “yes” you can go wake up your husband and tell him what has happened. “yes” you guys will feel shocked, giddy, and a little bit numb, trying to connect to the moment so overwhelmingly big that it suddenly felt weirdly small.
My first trimester played out, and worked through an illustration all of my aforementioned conflicting emotions and ambivalence. I will never know for sure if it was the hormones, or the result of the years I spent de-programming my unhealthy core belief system that I would only be worthy once I had procreated…or a combination of the two, but I was grieving. I grieved the beautiful life I was scared I was about to give up by bringing this new little stranger on the scene, and I grieved the loss of the notion that I was going to be different and special somehow by not becoming a mom in the traditional sense. Now I was just another newly-wed pregnant girl. A cliche.
The reason I think it may have been hormones was that almost like clock work, by week 13, the first week of my second trimester, the ambivalence began to subside, and I ever so slowly but surely started to fall in love with the gummy bear in my belly.
The pregnancy has been more like a mystery versus the obsession it may have been at another point in my life. Every day I wake up and wonder how I am going to feel, what I am going to experience physically, and what my newly emerging thoughts about my son will be that day. I grapple with body image, and struggle to make peace with the scale climbing back towards where it once was many years ago, eliciting memories of a very unhappy time, as I huff and puff up stairs, and spend 40 minutes trying to find an outfit that is comfortable and simultaneously not repulsive. I employ all my tricks of the trade. I reframe food as nourishment versus escape. I focus on the womanly aspects of my figure and make affirmations daily. I remind myself how empowering it will be to get my body back in shape after the baby is born. I reflect on the years I wasted hating my body, my life slipping right through my fingers, how I swore I would never do that again, and what a tragedy it would be to waste my pregnancy with self centered fear and loathing.
And so at the end of a long day when I feel like watching TV and eating ice cream, instead I write in my blog… to remain authentic, to stay creative, to do something that I know will make me stronger, happier, more self confident, and ultimately a better mother. A unique mother. Not a cliche mother. My own ever evolving version of perfection.