Mother’s Day can be particularly hard for women trying to conceive. It’s an all-out brunch buffet of what you don’t have but desperately want. The dichotomous American culture, makes it especially hard on childless women. Unlike other communities that value women regardless of their fecundity, we credit maternal wisdom only to those who are actual parents. This is a real loss. Women (and men) of all walks of life can offer invaluable love, guidance, and help to children and mothers alike. I went into motherhood fairly well prepared. I had spent a lot of time with babies and mamas and had an inkling of what to expect. I also had the humility to understand that I couldn’t possibly know what it would be like so, once baby arrived, I reached out to my circle of support. This included relatives and friends who had already walked down the new parent road as well as people who chose not to have children or were unable to have them.
I learned so much from them all. More importantly, my daughter was exposed to so many different kinds of love and care. I spent the first-year at home with her. I was her almost exclusive care giver. It was, and still is, hard to know where I ended and she began (but that’s another post). When she turned one, it was time to put her in school and return to work. The school was five miles away in the home of a lovely, intelligent lady and she was only going to be going three days a week. You would have thought that I was sending her to a boarding school in Siberia for decades. I fretted: “How will she adjust?”, “How will they know what to do when she cries?” Really, at the heart of it all was my deepest fear that her needs would not be met. How could anyone meet them as well as me?
Her needs were not only met, but new abilities blossomed. Her teacher and fellow classmates exposed her to worlds I knew nothing about. They expected things of her that I assumed she was too little to do. She grew. I grew. I learned how to be a “working” mother. I learned how to let go. I leaned on the other moms and took their advice on everything from pumping breast milk at work to what snacks to pack for my girl. Looking back, there was love at every corner. I was overwhelmed at times in those first few years but I never felt alone. I had my tribe. I had guidance, support, solidarity, and unconditional love. Isn’t that what being a mother encompasses? My daughter and I had, and still have, 10,000 mothers.