Monday, June 05, 2006

figuring out mothering is maybe not so bad

I have never been one of those people who felt like the most special thing in the world would be to become a mother. Now, I was and am deeply passionate about the principles of Safe Motherhood and the general Anne Crittenden-esque belief that the world needs to (and can) do much better in respecting women who mother. I type that and feel like it couldn't be more true.

The journey for me in pregnancy is not about facing labor and delivery. Because to tell the truth, I'm not afraid of labor and delivery. I'm looking forward to it as a huge challenge, a beautiful and incredibly powerful transition, and even as a meditative time to release all expectations and all hoped-for outcomes and simply let it happen. I'm not looking forward to pain, I'm looking forward to the release and to the ritual and to the rebirth of me-as-mother.

The journey for me in pregnancy IS about facing motherhood. To be honest, up until very recently (like, today) I've been a little panicky about it. I love my mom, who basically made mothering her life's work. But I wonder if she would describe her life as fulfilled. Maybe, probably, she would. Yet there are ways in which parts of her life seem really left behind- her independence, her education, her self-confidence.

I realized I don't know many mothers who seem fulfilled and self-confident. I'm not talking about working moms who find fulfillment in work. I'm talking about women who find fulfillment in mothering itself, who don't just say "it's a TON of work!" "you'll never sleep again!" "you'll miss adult conversation" and all those other scare-mongering comments.

I'm over the scare-mongering- HOORAY!!! This is huge for me. I recently read about moms (in a Berkeley Parents Network newsletter) who were giving advice to a new, anxious stay-at-home mom. They sounded like women who are self-confident, ok to make and learn from mistakes, who love museums and traveling and getting out, who love the challenge of mothering and love the opportunity to see their babies grow.

They made it sound great to me! I've begun to appreciate the beauty of hanging out with and caring for this little person, getting to know her/him so deeply, and just enjoying life and all its transitions.

I think my journey during pregnancy-- that is, what I've got to learn more about-- is about accepting motherhood as a path about which I know very little now and will have to learn about "on the job." A path with its own deep challenges and rewards that are not recognized by society. (But I can enjoy them nonetheless-- and it's huge that my husband is the most encouraging, respectful and loving partner ever.)

I think because society doesn't recognize the challenges and rewards, I assumed that there aren't any. Despite my advocacy and passion for Safe Motherhood, I didn't really believe that motherhood itself could be *that* special-- after all, millions of women do it. But I am joyfully discovering that I was wrong, and I can't wait to open my mind more everyday to the possibilities for richer living that motherhood generously provides.