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Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy

68 weeks | Out of words | no. 0062

I am meditating on what to do with my rage. I haven’t come up with any solutions as of yet. But I almost feel like a researcher embarking on a thesis project. Who knows, maybe this will be another book one day, or at least a collection of essays.

The working title of the series is “What To Do When They Break Your Heart: On mothering authentically in times of crisis, inequity, or invisibility.” I’m choosing not to write about all that is troubling me at the moment. Much of it is too raw for comprehensive reflection, the language for it still forming. I can say that I’m having growing pains in all areas of my life– as somebody’s mother, as somebody’s partner, as somebody’s caregiver. I’m confused, I’m overwhelmed, I’m exhausted. I know my struggles aren’t extraordinary, but I am acutely aware of the stress as it wears on my body, and strains my creativity.

As I navigate the many perspectives I could take on all I’m experiencing, I continue to stumble over the conditioning that has taught me that a mother is expected to silence the needs of her emotional wellness if she is to fully serve her child. I totally disagree with this practice of suppression, especially in the realm of mothering.

So many times I have looked at myself in the mirror to see if there’s something wrong with me. In the past weeks I have been told repeatedly that I need only focus on what’s best for the munchkin. This is hard for me to accept as real. Here I am, this whole person confronting challenging decisions, tapping as deeply into my intuition as I can so that I can do what’s best for the munchkin, and dealing with an ocean of emotional turbulence every step of the way.

How I’m supposed to do all this while ignoring my feelings is beyond me. We live in a world that assumes this is the way it has to be though. But I just don’t buy it. And I’m not willing to pretend that this uncomfortable season I’m in is merely a one-dimensional lesson in becoming a better sacrificer for my baby.

In my imaginary thesis, I am arguing that mothering in a space of authentic joy requires that I activate a high functioning emotional intelligence at all times. I believe that the physical, mental, and emotional toxicity we see running rampant in the mothering heart of humanity was brought on by the generations of mothers who did not have healthy and safe avenues for emotional wellness. Those women who learned instead how to exist and survive in imperfect circumstances, who mastered the art of getting over it, and taught their daughters and their granddaughters that being quiet about what hurts was more or less bearable if at the end of the day it could be said that you were strong.

I am cutting a new path through the forest. In moments like these, my courage doesn’t feel immediately rewarding. This dirty work of forging a new way that allows me to honor my fullness as a mother in a world so well versed in telling me otherwise is frequently deflating. There are days when I feel I have no words for the heaviness of knowing I’m still at the very beginning of this work. And that it will get harder, and there will be more tears, and more restless nights,  and more tangles with loved ones, and more doubts that maybe I’m crazy and I should just do it the way it’s been done.

But then I remember the why of all this toil. I reflect on all the good my resistance to pretending and silencing can bring. How my willingness to question what is problematic can lead to positive shifts in the world. I dream about the mothers of the future who are supported in their wholeness. Who are encouraged to be emotionally present with their mothering process by the mothers who came before them and finally wrote a new script.

It starts here, in our words. It starts here, inside these moments that seem to break our spirits and yet must still be spoken about. This is the cost of visibility, because the alternative is truly unacceptable. I have to keep searching for the narrative that says what I’m feeling as a mother. This is how I make more room for myself. This is how we make more space for the mothering work everywhere.

~~~

The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.

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