We Will Figure it Out Together – by Kendra Carlson Phillips


Mothers are not the nameless, faceless stereotypes who appear once a year on a greeting card with their virtues set to prose, but women who have been dealt a hand for life and play each card one at a time the best way they know how. No mother is all good or all bad, all laughing or all serious, all loving or all angry. Ambivalence rushes through their veins.

Erma Bombeck

Today’s Guest Post on Motherhood is by Kendra Carlson Phillips. After reading this post I immediately had tears in my eyes.  

I want to thank Kendra and Cathy this week for submitting their posts on Motherhood!  I truly love and appreciate them.

There are so many clichés about motherhood that to explain my opinions on the matter is to risk adding to an already long list. However, I shall try my best. On August 2, 2003, when Rhiannon was born, I became a mother. Some will argue that I became a mother the moment my husband and I conceived our daughter – sperm meets egg and “bam!” – motherhood. I disagree. To me, motherhood is a much more complicated, lengthy process; a badge to be earned. For those first nine months, I was more of an incubator. My body nourished this tiny being as I carried her around constantly. My food became her food. My breath and heartbeat kept her alive. But I could not see this child, or even feel her yet. I felt oddly disconnected from this magical being growing inside of me.

Once she started kicking, it became more real. And once we confirmed it was a girl, I started to really feel my heart expanding. (Yes, “confirmed” – somehow, I just knew she was a “she.”) Although I was thrilled to be pregnant, I began to feel the pangs of guilt right away, as the societal “norm” often failed to match my own experience. I expected to be glowing and happy every minute of every day. I wanted to relish every second of this pregnancy, feel joy at every movement, and be thrilled as my belly grew on a daily basis.

Most of the time, I truly was happy. But my chronic anxiety reared its ugly head at times, especially in my third trimester. As my uterus expanded exponentially, I started to feel suffocated. Lying on my back, it was hard to breathe. I could not banish the thought that no matter how strong the desire, I could not take her out or take her off – not even for a second. I had been taken over by this person growing impossibly large inside of my own body. I was stuck like this until she decided to come out. I often fought back panic and almost ended up in the emergency room after a particularly terrifying anxiety attack. I did not tell anyone how I felt; after all, I should be one hundred percent joyous. And this claustrophobic, suffocating feeling? Well, surely no one else was plagued with such crazy thoughts. I kept them to myself. One afternoon nearing my due date, I was putting her tiny clothes away and had another anxiety attack upon the sudden realization that in a matter of days, an actual person would be wearing these clothes. What was I doing? I was going to be a mother? I had no idea HOW to be a mother. I would be responsible for her very life. ME. I was terrified.

After a short, but painful and difficult delivery, Rhiannon was born. She weighed in at nine pounds, three ounces and was twenty-one inches long. Although I required oxygen near the end and was threatened with the terrifying forceps (“just PUSH!”), she was absolutely perfect. Perfect round head (not flattened!), perfect little fingers and toes, and perfect, wide, knowing eyes. I will never forget how she looked at me, as if to say “wow, you really have no idea how to do this, do you? Well, we will figure it out together.” Ready or not, I was officially pushed into motherhood. There was no turning back.

For 36 hours, I enjoyed the hospital bubble – the nurses who would come to my aid with the push of a button, and whisked Rhiannon away to the magical nursery so I could sleep. The nurses gave me a quick tutorial on how to breastfeed (yes, it is a natural, beautiful thing; no, it is not intuitive). Before I knew what hit me, I was deemed fit to leave the hospital with a two-day old child. I practically begged the nurses to stay – even if for just one more day. They smiled politely and reminded me that my health insurance would not pay for that luxury. I was wheeled out of there by a reassuring nurse who told me that I would be “just fine.”

The days following my release are a blur of exhaustion and tears – my daughter’s and mine. Of course, I loved her. From day one, I would have thrown myself in front of a bus for her. But being a mother was just so terrifically difficult. She would not latch properly, so she was not getting enough milk. She therefore became jaundiced. Immediate guilt ensued (“I cannot even feed her properly!”) She did not sleep well, and wanted to nurse every five minutes. I was depressed and anxious and desperate for sleep. More guilt. One particularly brutal night, I woke my husband and told him (in all seriousness) that he should find another wife. I was not cut out for this. I could not do it anymore. I would run away and live the rest of my life in solitary, knowing that another, more stable female would raise my daughter. To my husband’s credit, he laughed and told me to go to sleep. Somehow, that moment made me realize that perhaps I was not as alone as I felt. And was it possible that my feelings of craziness were actually normal?

As the days went on, I became accustomed to the exhaustion. Breastfeeding became slightly easier. At one point, I decided to accept the fact that she would require formula supplementation. I relaxed a bit. In fact, I actually started to enjoy nursing, as the endorphins flooded my body and I realized that my body was again nourishing hers. I enjoyed Rhiannon. I loved to watch her sleep. I took endless pictures.  I was starting to know my daughter. I was starting to truly love her – no, fall in love with her.

Now, she is almost nine years old. My husband and I laugh at these early, crazy days. Yes, life is much easier now. But motherhood is an ongoing process. Every day, I become a little more her mother. With each passing day, month, and year, my motherhood badges increase in number. I have become more patient than I ever thought possible. I have learned to step away a bit and let her make her own mistakes – learn her own lessons. I have wiped tears, cleaned up after bouts of sickness in the middle of the night, and tried to kiss her pain away. I have remembered how to feel joy and awe at the sight of butterflies alighting nearby and have learned to love the magic of a starry night all over again.

I believe that before she was born, Rhiannon chose me to be her mother. I feel privileged and honored to be chosen. It is a huge responsibility, but an incredible joy. And if I had to pick one “a-ha” moment in the last eight-plus years, it is this: although there are a few things I can teach her as she grows, one of her missions on this earth is to be my teacher. Thank you, Rhiannon.

Kendra lives in Seabrook New Hampshire with her husband and daughter Rhiannon.  She describes herself on Twitter as:

Mom. Wife. Vegan. Attorney. Writer. Spiritual. Animal-lover and a New England sports fan.

You can follow her on Twitter, or her blog:  A Passionate Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reign of the Lioness and Mother’s Intuition


Trust your hunches.  They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.  ~Joyce Brothers

Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.  ~Florence Scovel Shinn

Sunday, many of us will be celebrating Mother’s Day.  This week, Muse In The Valley’s theme is on Motherhood.  All the wonderful, amazing,  loving, beautiful, frustrating and heartbreaking feelings which come with Mothering our offspring.   In my post:  Mother’s Fantacy:  Debunking Myths, I spoke about how my preconceived ideas about parenting really changed once my children came into the world.   The one thing I was not ready for was the constant “wearing my heart on my sleeve” feeling.  The part which amazes me the most so far is:  the Mother Lioness!

She is a complete separate entity.  She’s the one who would jump out in front of a bullet to protect her children.  Mother Lioness roars and fights for her kids, she surprised me to much the first time she came out, that I had to literally sit for a while to hold her back.  She is fierce, protective and instinctive.  She was born the day my children were born. She’s the one who fought for my son when he was diagnosed with ADHD and bullied at school.  She was the one who made sure my daughter was well taken care of in the hospital when she had a pneumonia.  She’s the one who roars when her children are threatened.

For absolutely no one else has Mother Lioness come out.. no one else but her children.

I witnessed Mother Lioness in more ways than one, and not only in myself.  I remember the day my best friend and I were at the park with our children.  She was happily swinging her 5 month old baby in the baby swing.  The day was bright and the kids were just finishing their picnic, when out of the blue, I saw my friend pull her baby from out of the air!  As soon as it happened she asked me to grab her infant so she could sit down.  She was obviously shaken after the event, however, she told me she was focused when she caught her child.

What happened is baby Anna had somehow pushed herself backwards and the swing tipped over, in one split second,  Caroline had her by the pants!  It was a momma miracle!   After she had calmed down, we both tried to recreate the event using a teddy bear, and neither of us were able to grab the stuffed animal out of the air after it tipped over out of the swing!   Mother Lioness is perceptive and instinctual.  It was almost like Caroline had known a second before the incident and was literally prepared in advance to grab her daughter in mid-air.

Call it instinct or intuition, whatever it is, it’s real!

Take for instant the time I was pregnant with my son, I was walking on the sidewalk with his father, when I tripped and fell.  The thing is, that although my ex recounts that I fell in 3 seconds flat!  In my mind, the fall lasted at least 30 seconds or more, thus, during the fall I had time to think, turn to my side to avoid falling on my stomach.  I fell on my side with my arm protecting my baby belly!  I was ok, and so was the baby.

How bout the times when I knew my children needed to get to the emergency despite other’s saying “No she’ll be ok.. it’s just a cough” or “He’s fine, his fever will go down, keep him home”.  Both times, my kids needed medical help immediately.  Mother’s intuition is strong and I will never EVER deny it.

What makes moms go above and beyond?  What makes a mother protect her child?  Is it love? Animal Instinct of Mother’s Intuition? I do not know, and to be truthful, I just spent an hour googling about it and the only article I found is how Mom’s protective instincts may be related to low levels of Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), in the brain.  In Scientific American, Sarah Graham observes:

Differing CRH levels did not affect any other mothering instincts, such as nursing, however. A link between CRH and caring behavior in mothers could also help explain situations in which women don’t safeguard their children. If CRH needs to be low to see maternal protection of offspring, as our work suggests,Gammie remarks, then it explains why moms with high postpartum depression and high CRH not only may neglect, but also may abuse, their children. The findings appear in the August issue of Behavioral Neuroscience.

This may be a scientific explanation, however, I think many of us have experienced this instinct more than once, and probably often asked ourselves  “Did I do that?” right after you spent 14 hours awake taking care of your sick child !  I do not know why I cannot find more Science or Psychology on the subject on the web.. Maybe I am not looking in the right places, however, what I know for sure is that I would do absolutely ANYTHING for my children if they were in danger, or sick, or heartbroken, and that includes hunting down anyone who would deliberately hurt my child (lord knows what I would do once I find them).

What I understand about the Lioness in me, is that she comes out only for my children and no one else.  Not even myself!  Yet, now, I am learning to embrace Lioness and have her come to me when I need her too… I mean, with this self-love thing going on, I deserve a dose of Lioness love too!

Has the Lioness come out in you?  Please share your stories with me in the comment section!

Happy Mother’s Day 

Kim

Embracing the Mess by Cathy Moryc Recine


My floors are sparkling. No, not because they are so clean. 
2 words- glitter glue. ~Cathy Moryc Recine

Am I an expert? Nope. Do I have any experience? A little bit. Would I want to mention my diaper changing abilities on my résumé? Definitely not.

Yes, I’m talking about Motherhood and I still have so much more to learn. 

For those of you that do not have children, maybe you have seen some of those commercials for diapers, wipes, formula, toys etc.?  You know, the ones where the babies are smiling and children are laughing? The moms appear relaxed and refreshed? Its not exactly like that. No, not exactly.  Yes, there are some of those moments but there is more to it, much more.

Like most other moms, I always knew that I wanted to be a mother.

Exactly ten years ago this summer, I learned I was going to be a mom for the first time.  My husband and I had just moved into our house that we were waiting to have built. We were both working full-time and had long, crazy commutes each day.  Family and friends would visit us and comment on how “we had rooms to fill” or something like that.  Blah..blah..blah.

Maybe it was time. 

I had friends with newborns, nieces and nephews of various ages. I thought I was prepared. I was so wrong.

My sister had just given birth to her second child shortly before I found out that I was expecting. She welcomed a beautiful baby girl that she named Angela (also my sister’s name).  However, some of the happiness and excitement became overshadowed by the fact that her baby would stay in the hospital because of some serious birth defects.

I remember when my husband and I went to visit her in the hospital for the first time. We had not told anyone that we were expecting yet.

There I was holding my niece in the NICU.  Monitors were beeping, tubes and wires everywhere. I later watched as my sister took care of her baby along with the nurse and doctors.  She comforted her in a way that only a mother could.  It was at that moment I started to understand what being a mother was all about.

Several weeks had passed and my husband and I were hesitant to announce our pregnancy but finally we decided that we should.  The very next day the phone rang very early in the morning.  It was my mother. She was crying. I can still hear her words and remember the feeling of the tears running down my face. There aren’t any books, tv shows or magazine articles that could possible prepare you for something like that. Baby Angela had spent her entire life in the hospital. Just four short months.

The sadness, guilt and worry I felt were overwhelming, but it was nothing in comparison to what my sister and her family were experiencing.  I admire my sister so much for her strength and courage that she had in the time that followed, especially for her son who was only 8 years old at the time and trying to make sense of the loss of his baby sister.

Exactly one year later, I gave birth to my baby girl who carries her cousin’s name as her middle name.  None of my 4 children had the chance to meet their cousin but as they get older they will get know more about her.

Even with all of her sadness, my sister was truly happy for me becoming a mother.  Having the bond of motherhood brought us closer in so many ways despite our 11 year age difference. There has always been laughter even through the tears.  I can remember looking through some maternity clothes she saved for me that she wore during her first pregnancy 8 years earlier.  I called her on the phone right away as I was trying on the shirts with big buttons, bright colors and busy patterns and told her that Ringling Brothers Circus called and said they wanted their costumes back. It was my way of telling her thanks but I can’t wear these clown clothes. I must admit that these days I feel proud when my kids say something sarcastic because I know exactly where they get it from.

What has motherhood taught me so far?  

  • Most of all it has taught me so much about love and patience.
  • I’ve learned that no matter how much you plan, things rarely go the way you think they will.
  • I’ve learned to always keep a sense of humor so that my kids can learn to find laughter and something positive in the most difficult situations.
  • I’ve learned to live in the present moment because time goes by so quickly and you never get it back. Never.

What do I want most for my kids? 

  • I want my kids to not just know they are loved but to feel they are loved too.
  • I want them to always be happy. No matter what choices they make.
  • I want them to know its ok for them to be themselves and not what other people think they should be.
  • I want them to understand that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as you have learned something from it.
  • I want them to be accepting toward everyone and to always be aware and respectful of another person’s feelings. Even if they don’t agree.
  • I want them to be able to look back at their childhood and have great memories not because of the things they had or the places they went, but for the way they felt.
  • Most importantly, I want them to know that I will always be there for them. Always.

Has motherhood changed me?

Maybe it has in some ways. Somehow the things that were once so important have become almost meaningless and the things that I have over looked or took for granted are now a priority. It has made me appreciate all the ”little things“ in life and the miracles that happen each and every day.  I focus less on all the things that really don’t matter. I used to worry about my house being a mess. It’s still a mess but I just choose not to worry about it so much anymore.  I’ll have plenty of time to fix everything one day. But today is not that day and most likely tomorrow won’t be that day either.  I’ve learned to embrace the mess and all the chaos associated with now having kids ages 9, 6, 4 and 2 years-old. Instead, right now I’d rather listen to what my kids have to say, to me and to each other. I want to see their smiles and hear their laughter, and more often than not, referee their arguing and console their crying.

Most days are challenging, some days more than others, yet somehow it all feels very natural too. Of course there are times I just want a day off. Some days I just want to stay in bed. I don’t want to carpool, go grocery shopping, do laundry, help with homework, cook dinner and all that other stuff that we all do. Every. Single. Day. Then I am reminded how much I am needed and then I remember how it’s all worth it because one day I won’t be needed the same way that I am now.  I’m far from perfect. I doubt my kids will ever think they had the perfect childhood and I think I’m ok with that.  I guess I’m still really the same person I’ve always been. Only better I think. All because of them.

Happy Mother’s Day

Cathy Moryc Recine lives in Manorville  New York, with her husband and four children.  She works as a mom,   yet still finds time to enjoy the things that keep her unique.

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