Who am I? I thought I knew, but my confidence about who I am has been questioned. I am not just a woman, but often I feel like just a mother. I question if it began the moment I found out I was pregnant or the moment I gave birth.
A begging cry and a time of agony changed my life instantaneously. A plethora of events and generic breaths brought me to this place. Most times I neglect or forget: who was I before children?
I am not just a mother and this thought defines me. It hasn’t only controlled the way I act and interact with my little treasures and terrors. I believe other adults notice it in my behavior, see it in my eyes, or hear it in my speech. Many fear mothering and I wonder how many of those fearing this journey are already mothers.
I have endless thoughts of how to raise a perfect child. I know nobody is perfect, yet I am still in search of the answers. Our acts and responses to parenting are so often polarized, pitting us against each other. Why can’t love just answer them all? And more importantly, why can’t love satisfy us?
It is challenging to just love the moment we are in. There are so many clichés of parenthood I question. I try to fight some of them, but also embrace them: Will my child habitually wake me up before the crack of dawn? Will my child fail and pick herself up again—as an adult and a child? Don’t we learn by example? Will I love my children more than they know? Will they drive me crazy? Would I hurt others for them? Will it only be terrible during the two’s? If they grow like weeds, will they eat me out of house and home? When will time stop flying so we can just be and enjoy each other one day at a time?
The answers to these questions are out of my control. I’ve lost power. I must accept that control is the antithesis to parenthood.
As a mother, can I truly unlearn a privilege, release my ego, and share my fears with vulnerable, manipulable little beings? I try to do this is a positive, purposeful way. I try to be patient, save my energy, and use the right tools. I can only hope my children learn the lessons I intend to teach them.
I accept that they will teach me.
The ultimate of parenting questions is—will my child be okay? I want her to be safe. I want him to be kind. I want them to make smart choices and not forget to use their manners. But most importantly—will they be okay? There aren’t answers, yet sometimes there are also too many. These endless decisions can’t all be answered by just loving, can they?
My children will outgrow me. I hope our bond, as it is now, persists. I pray my perseverance and parenting choices pay off and rear successful children. It is not worth the stress of asking—but I do—will my children love me?
I am not failing because my children are loved. I wonder if I am really as strong as I act in my role as a mother. It bewilders me that I have so many questions and can still succeed. One day I may stop questioning, but for now this inquiry results with: Am I trying my best? Am I parenting out of love? Am I being present? Am I teaching my beautiful people every day? Am I? I am?
I have changed. Every day we change and grow. Yet, one constant is love, and it is the only thing I seem to have control over. I love.
I love being the one who instills in my children how to be who they should be when nobody is watching. So, I will not stop questioning. I will just love myself, just love my children, and just love my life. The answer is to just love.
Stefani Boutelier is a mother, writer, and educator. She is attempting to rear her children with the greatest sense of humor and an open mind. You can find her at www.mamagenericana.com or featured on Mock Mom, Bonbon Break, In the Powder Room, The Good Mother Project, and Three Line Poetry.
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