I was a young 23 when I became a mother.
Like most young people, I felt capable and fearless in the face of a challenge.
I had no idea what I had in store for me.
I had been taking early childhood development classes and working as a preschool teacher.
I felt more prepared than most and I was very good at keeping young children entertained, focused and taken care of.
What I didn’t know was that when children are your own, it’s a whole different experience.
When my daughter was born I felt like I had been run over by a semi truck.
My body had expanded and contracted so rapidly, I could feel everything was struggling to get back into place.
There was no escaping my discomfort when I was pregnant and now I had a whole different body AND a new tiny baby that I was completely responsible for keeping alive.
I had help the first few weeks, then her dad went back to work and my mom went back home.
I was left alone to feed, bathe, soothe and change diapers.
What put the most pressure on was when she would cry inconsolably. Even when others were there around to help me, the most logical thing to be done was to give her to me.
I was “the mom”.
I was supposed to make everything better and know what to do to solve the problems, all the time.
Oftentimes, I did a pretty good job at this. Other times I felt I was going to lose my mind from feeling so incapable.
I felt I was drowning in my role as a mother with nothing to hold me but my own ability to survive this and hope that my daughter would, too.
I resigned myself to the fact that this was what motherhood and parenthood was about.
And, that I should have another baby because that’s what mothers do.
The next layer of overwhelm entered stage left.
We had a baby boy. He was 10 oz. heavier and much more difficult to birth.
What had I been thinking?
That having babies was just what we women do?
I loved my kids.
They brought me such joy and left me in such awe day after day.
I stumbled through it all because I was exhausted and constantly trying to resource myself and my children and my relationship and my home.
Then one day, I broke through the surface.
They were all sick with a cold.
Dad in bed, daughter beside him both feverish and drowsy.
Baby crying in my arms, cranky from not feeling well either.
I was trying to figure out what to do first.
Call the doctor? Get cold medicine? Get a bath ready? Feed someone?
I paused and understood at that moment, it was up to me.
I was making the decisions.
I was the Mom, with a capital “M”.
Somewhere in me welled up a strength I had never felt before.
A part of me, ready to rise to the occasion and take the lead.
My head cleared and with confidence I began taking care of them all.
No one was going to die. I knew what to do.
After that day, I knew myself very clearly as Mother to my children.
A guardian of sorts.
I recognized this significant role as a responsibility but also a gift.
My children have taught me about myself in such a way I could never anticipate.
They continue to inspire me to grow and are my greatest teachers.
They help me to know myself as my desire to be my best stems from my passion to show them the way.
I became a self taught herbalist and rarely took my kids to the doctor.
I took them backpacking, river rafting and traveling around Europe by train through 4 different countries.
Experiences became my goals for them.
Mentoring by example became my creed.
To be an example of how challenges can be met, how to cultivate joy daily and how to live with purpose.
To show them that life is not just about getting through it but choosing powerfully from a place of authenticity and truth. That finding out what IS true for each of us is what guides us intuitively and uniquely, everyday, regardless of circumstances, outside influences or social norms.