Five years ago I became mother. You hear that instantly your life changes or that suddenly your heart explodes into a bigger, fuller exponential version of itself. It wasn't so instantaneous for me, and I am profoundly okay with that!
Motherhood was a very hard transition for me. Physically, I had a less than picture perfect pregnancy-- I puked the whole time (it became a big joke. Like, I would literally sneeze and then puke. I would laugh too hard, puke.). The only food I could manage to eat was Wendy's cheeseburger meals, one giant cup of Starbucks coffee and Sour Patch Kids. If you know me now (the basically vegan, adaptogen-filled clean eater, you're like WHAAAAT. Yeah, it was a thing.) I had such bad carpal tunnel that I couldn't drive a car without my arms going completely numb. Aaaaand I put on a whopping 100 pounds, most of which was accounted for in my fluid-swollen feet that resembled dough balls.
Having our son was pretty rough. I didn't know what to expect or even what I hoped for out of it (we got a pretty extreme situation that involved a 20 hour labor, 4 hours of pushing, emergency c-section and a bacterial superbug that left me mostly bed ridden for 18 months)<------ wah, wahhhhhh, right?!
The above is really just for context. All of us have our stories when a new human comes into the world. New life in the world effects us all in so many ways. Whether you're a biological mother or father, mothers and fathers adopting, mother or father figures, parental figures outside of the binaries and all the varieties of single or partnered or coparenting, grandparents, friends, more.
They say it takes a village. Well the village has a thousand faces and iterations and it may appear/change appearance once crossing the threshold. It may involve a supportive community. It may be lonely. It may be joyful or sad or easy or profoundly difficult. There's a big old spectrum of complex stuff in there and it's never just one or the other. It will most definitely be filled with many layers and experiences that you bring to the table.
We all came from somewhere and we all carry stuff with us.
This is maybe where expectations come in. Someone wise once told me there are three types of expectations, and they are all profoundly dangerous: unrealistic expectations, unspoken expectations and unmet expectations. And our American experience of parenthood in 2019 is rife with them!
As women, we are so prone to put such crazy expectations on ourselves. Be a present mother. Be strong in our career lives and don't let motherhood get in the way during those hours. Stay young and fit and beautiful. Be a good partner. Be able to do it all on your own. Have a tribe of girlfriends who are ride or die, and for goodness sakes you better #selfcare to keep it cranking. HOLD UP.
For men, expectations of masculinity, partnerhood, being a strong provider, being a good man in the world. Also, a culture that doesn't recognize that men go through a lot in parenthood too. The exhaustion, feeling divided. There is in inequity for dads, too in a lack of emotional support on this side of parenthood. WAIT, WAIT.
And for LGBTQ and non-binary parents, all the same issues PLUS family acceptance, cultural otherness and the unfair expectation to educate everyone on it all.
Y'ALL. How in the world can ANY of us feel good about who we are and where we are if we are carrying all this on us all the time?? Don't get me wrong, I am NOT saying this is all self-imposed. But we all belong to the culture that has created this cluster-F of expectations that we are suddenly thrashing around in (maybe sometimes drowning in. And to be fair, maybe sometimes thriving in, too).
And this is where it gets exciting-- if we belong to the culture that set this weird situation up, we are the culture that can change it all. And I think it takes something RADICAL.
Let go of the expectations while also operating from a place of deep acceptance and love of yourself and all the people around you. Balance does not exist. It is an illusion. So recreate your foundation and base it in LOVE.
Radically love yourself. Radically love your children. Radically love your partner. Radically love the people around you, even if you don't know them or understand them. Radically love your mother and your father and the ones that came before them, even if they screwed you up. (We are all screwed up!)<--- We all have wounds of some sort. What if you could accept the wound. Process the wound. It may not make sense of it and it certainly doesn't have to excuse it. But if you could send that hurt place some of your unconditional love, what if you could be free of it walking around with you every day in the ways that it doesn't serve you?
Are you still with me here? What if we could all live in a place where moment to moment, we let a bigger, compassion-filled unconditional love guide us? We can't make the struggle go away with a snap of our fingers. We can't break down systemic oppression overnight, but what if we redefined and reclaimed the village?? What if we really lived our lives recognizing that we all belong to the same big-ass village (whether you're a parent or not)??
We are each a beautiful weirdo out here in the world. Love yourself. Love the people around you. Love the people on the other side of your experience. And love all the little humans. We can do this. For ourselves. For our neighbors. For our kiddos.
Happy Mother's Day. To everyone.
Big love, xoxo