There are some questions we expect to encounter over our lifetime. What are your plans after graduation? What qualities do you look for in a mate? Even the dreaded, where to babies come from? In my 38+ years of life I have fielded these questions with grace and confidence – even the baby question.
Once in a while, however, we are faced with a question that we aren’t prepared for and the perfect words don’t come as easily. My mom tossed one of these my way last week.
“What are you going to say when your kids are old enough to read your blog and they ask you why you wrote about them?”
I nervously laughed and said, “Hopefully they can go read the inside cover of my book. It will explain their role in my journey to greatness. Or maybe my writing will be dead and buried beneath a headstone which reads, “She thought she could write. She was wrong.”
Other than a few sarcastic comments, I had no answer. How could I explain to my boys that when I became their mother I was equal parts elated and terrified. Like most new moms I looked at each of them and was in awe of the love I felt. Simultaneously, I was struck with fear. The burden of responsibility crashed down on me as quickly and intensely as the love. And in the next weeks, months and years those two feelings were at war.
It took me a long time to pinpoint why I found motherhood such a dichotomy of emotions: elation and exhaustion, joy and fear, pride and guilt. And then one day I discovered exactly why this all seemed just so darn hard. You see, somewhere along the way, as I was growing up, I naively assumed I would be finished with all that silly growing by the time I had kids. I thought Vicky the Woman chapters of my life story would be complete and that I would then begin to pen the Vicky the Mother chapters. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I imagine I would be simultaneously raising myself and my children.
So many of the emotions I was swimming through were NOT about me as a mother, but me as a growing and maturing woman. Yet, the scene had simply changed. It really shouldn’t have been such a surprise. I was Vicky the High School Student, then Vicky the College Girl, then Vicky the Early Career Woman, and eventually Vicky the New Wife. Those transitions were seamless for me. But this one, this Vicky the Mother, chapter of my life was tripping me up left and right. And at the end of the day, I felt abnormal because no one else seemed to be feeling any of these things. At a minimum, no one was talking about them. In a world where we push to be a unique individual, all I felt was “other, alone, and the only one.”
So I began to write. I took the thoughts that swirled in my head and made me feel abnormal and I put them to paper- well, keyboard anyway. And soon, others began to tell me they read what I wrote and identified themselves in the words. They felt as if someone had read their minds and pulled their biggest, fears and worries and brought them out of the darkness of fear and guilt and into the light. As I shared, others shared and we were connected. As I laid bare, they laid bare and we were similar. As I learned to laugh, they learned to laugh and we were a community.
But now I’m back to my original problem: How will I tell my children any of this? How can I possibly tell them that being their mom was the most terrifying and challenging experience of my life? How does one tell her children that Mom became less and less hers and more and more theirs until she couldn’t remember all the things she used to love and made her laugh?
Can they understand that giving my fears a voice made them easier to dispel? Will it make sense to them that being both first and third person in our life helped me take a step back, away from the fray and allowed me to see our life as a miraculous adventure? Will they comprehend that the monotony of motherhood at one time made it difficult to get out of bed but was now the stuff of belly laughs and comfort for many mothers?
How will I help them understand that there will never be a day when they are done growing? And that although terrifying, that is a beautiful thing because we all get a little better, a little wiser and a lot more perspective.
Truth is, I don’t have to figure out how to tell my boys anything at all. Those questions will not go unanswered because they can sit down and scroll through the pages of my blog and they will see first-hand that I grew alongside them and being their mother helped me become a better person than I ever could have been without them.
Vicky is a Southern California wife and mom of 2 boys. When she is not working as a Social Media Manager for a small recruiting firm, you can find her writing about the good, the bad and the hilarious events that go on in her home at www.thepursuitofnormal.blogspot.com
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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