Welcome to May’s Mosaic of Motherhood series! Today we have our first guest post from Lisa Owen of My So Called Glamorous Life. I’ve gotten to know Lisa these past couple of years though blogging circles and have always considered her a very together, smart, get it right kind of mom. She writes protest letters to American Girl about their lack of diversity in dolls and posts delicious dessert recipes. She is someone I look up to and learn from about blogging and life. All that being said, I am so grateful she shared this raw, honest story from the earliest days of her motherhood. By grace we moms grow and evolve year after year. My husband has a saying, “the parent doesn’t make the child, the child makes the parent.” Thanks Lisa, for showing us how your firstborn has helped make you into the wonderful woman you are today.
“Being a mother ain’t shit.” That’s what she said, very matter of factly. I was a new mom – brand new, like days new. Still walking around in my robe and night gown because I hadn’t figured out how to get showered, dressed and feed my new little boy all on a relative schedule.
She was not a mother because she had never wanted to be and, as you can see, she had some very strong feelings about it. Very strong and very negative feelings. Yet, she was someone that I had a lot of respect for and loved dearly. It was all very complicated. Back then I wasn’t very good with words or sorting through my emotions. After all, I was just 24-years-old when I became a mother for the first time and while I wasn’t exactly a kid, it’s amazing how young that really is when now looking back from my late 40’s.
I don’t think I responded to her statement. I mean, what does one say to that? I guess that I could have responded with expletives and given her a piece of my mind. But, I was entirely too insecure to do that. Not to mention that my mind was already in new mom, sleep-deprived pieces and I couldn’t afford to give any away.
She had it all together and always had (or at least I thought so) and I didn’t. At that point in my life I had no idea how to get it together or what that really meant or what that might even look like.
Her words hit hard and stung. They made me feel small and ashamed and really stupid. I had unintentionally done this very big thing and with one sentence she had reduced it to nothing. And by nothing I mean “not shit”. If you actually think about the literal translation of that it gives new meaning to the word “nothing”.
My whole entry into motherhood was fairly thoughtless and haphazard. I was single and not really in a relationship, but hanging on to one that had gone bad a long time ago. I was the only one hanging on, he wasn’t. I had been told a few years earlier that I would have trouble getting pregnant because for some reason my ovaries were not ovulating regularly. Since I was nowhere near thinking of a family, I wasn’t very concerned about making babies. A couple of years out of college and trying to figure things out, I had no idea where I was headed. I was too busy being a not very responsible twenty-something.
Ta – Da!! Enter my baby boy.
If there was ever an impetus for getting my butt in gear, it was him.
This perfect and beautiful baby suddenly brought absolutely everything into focus for me. Maybe not in plan, but in practicality. Suddenly I needed a good job with good benefits, child care and some flexibility to be able to be with him when he needed me. I now had urgent and important business to tend to in that 7 lb., 4oz. body. Never before in my life had I considered retirement plans because in my mind that was for families and old people and before now I wasn’t a family or old.
I had never considered what kind of mother I wanted to be or even what was important to me as a parent. This whole scenario was the furthest thing from my mind. Yet, here I was living it.
All eyes were on me and I was scared.
Scared I’d somehow break him.
Scared that I wouldn’t love him enough or too much or the wrong way.
Scared that I couldn’t provide for him and we would be living in the streets.
Scared that he would be embarrassed of me. Many years later I would come to realize that they are all embarrassed of you at some point or another.
Scared that I would fail and find out that, as a mother, I’m not shit.
Isn’t it amazing how we can let one person’s negative vibe completely mess us up? I was completely messed up, but I kept moving. I went back to school, which led me to a new career and I moved back to my home town to be closer to my parents. Slowly – very slowly – I started putting together a life for me and my boy.
I would be lying if I said that it was smooth sailing from there because it was more like rough waters followed by some stormy seas.
The one thing that I did know, without a doubt, was that I loved my little boy with everything that I had. I loved him completely and without hesitation – every freckle, every tiny red hair on his head – absolutely everything about him.
Ultimately, it was that love for him that made me want to dig deeper and be better. It was him that I didn’t want to let down. Ever.
And somehow I knew that as long as I was really trying, he would know it, acknowledge it and love me through it. And I didn’t need anyone else’s approval. He and I, mother and son, would make it just fine.
She was wrong in her assessment about being a mother. I found out that being a mother is a hugely complicated, fun, joyous and terrifying thrill ride. Yes, a lot of times I did get it wrong, but most of time I got it right, or at least almost right. Well, close enough.
And I thank God for grace. Because it was by grace that I managed to make it through the ordinary trials like working full time, while mommying full time; as well as, the extraordinary trials of my son’s chronic health issues.
And it was by grace that we always managed to be in the right place at the right time to receive the best health care even when my money was short. It was absolutely amazing how God provided for us.
And it was by grace that I forgave her for being so hurtful. Many years later I realized that her bitterness was born of her loss, not mine. We have never spoken about what she said to me that day and that’s okay because it’s not my cross to bear. It’s hers.
We all come to motherhood in different ways. Our stories are all different some beautiful and some tragic. Some of us enjoy it more than others and some of us can’t imagine life without it. I now have five children – my 1, my husband’s 2 and our 2 together – and being a mother has been one of the greatest love stories that I have never written.
Lisa Owen is a writer and blogger at My So Called Glamorous Life: The Adventures of a Domestic Engineer. A member of the 2015 cast of Listen To Your Mother – Austin, her work has been featured on Blogher.com, Project Underblog, Centering Down and in the supplemental materials for The Princess Problem (available at Rebecca Hains.com). An Illinois transplant to Houston, Texas, she is the wife to a Bible toting scientist and a mother/step-mother in a blended family with five children ages 7 to 24. She is a seeker of world peace, a recipe for a sinfully good chocolate cake and the perfect pair of red shoes.