A True Story of Motherhood Bonds
Hey you Mama! If you own your shortcomings, embrace your imperfections, know that all you can do is your best, well then you’re brilliant! Look me up! Let’s talk strategy because my experience so far is that you haven’t got much strength in numbers. Most of us seem to be our own worst critics. Others fill their angry bellies by deflecting and judging. It’s hard enough trying to please our kids so why are we always looking for approval from Moms R Us?
Soon after I started this gig, I realized that I was rarely proud of ME. If it weren’t for the love I’m so blessed to enjoy and the encouragement I receive from my family and friends, I’m afraid of what could’ve contributed the death of my mothering. What I learned faster than how to change a diaper was that I was grateful first. And so I do my best to not judge the rookies. I knew I had acres of support far beyond what my eye could see, but there are so many who just don’t.
The story I’d like to share may put some of what I’m trying to say into perspective. If it doesn’t, well then I’m hoping you’ll think it’s at least a good read.
Amy grew up deep in the country where the air was pure and the smell was sweet. There was very little noise. Her mom, who was a great role model to her, insisted she be home schooled until middle school. The oldest of five, she was essential in the care of the 4 other ankle-biters she called siblings. She was given enormous responsibility at a very young age and come her teenage years, rather than running from it, she went toward it. She studied early childhood education and clocked thousands of babysitting hours. She had a gift with babies, an ease with toddlers and a degree in preschoolers. She married her high school sweetheart, common among her fellow country girls, and then finally, she reached her life’s goal… To grow her very own tiny human. She was pregnant… And ecstatic.
They said: Oh please! Silly girl. Doesn’t she know there’s more to life than getting fat and pregnant… doesn’t she want something for herself?
Amy met Joan in pre-natal classes. Although she wasn’t thrilled about having to move to the city for her husband’s job, she enjoyed the programs that were available.
Joan was a very successful businesswoman who ran her own company off an idea she came up with in 3rd year. She was a boss and she hadn’t even graduated. She repeatedly strolled in late to class, very pregnant yet still sporting 4-inch Louboutin’s. Some of the soon-to-be moms would roll their eyes and everyone knew they were judging.
They said: Why did she bother to come? Motherhood is gonna take this city girl down! Who does she think she is?
Amy was kind. She always shared a smile. And Joan, who knew how to read a room, knew exactly where she would be welcome to sit. She may even get the notes on what she missed if she threw her new friend a few compliments.
There were never two women so different on paper. The Country-girl, lonely in the city, wearing floor-length floral print dresses with hair down past her ass. And the sharp-witted Tycoon with a fresh Halle haircut and a Chanel suit. She wondered why she signed up for the baby, never mind the class. They were the most unusual duet but they grew a friendship that would become so necessary to them. It was born in motherhood and fueled by guilt.
They said: Look at that shark taking advantage of that sweet girl. What could they possibly have in common? The two of them just don’t belong here, and they look so odd together.
Amy had always wanted a girl; one with bouncy blonde curls that she could put in ballet and teach how to sew. She had sisters she was missing a great deal and she was hoping to create a mini she could tell them about. Nothing went as planned. She had to have a C-section because she grew a ten-pound boy in her seemingly small belly and so she felt she had failed. Her mother practically spit out a litter with only a midwife swooping in for clean-up. Billy was beautiful but so hungry and Amy couldn’t nurse. She had inverted nipples offering very little milk and her sweet boy couldn’t latch despite all the time she put in with lactation consultants. She felt guilty she starved him and felt guilty she couldn’t give him the liquid gold they all supposedly require for that sought-after premium infant health. She felt guilty she dreamed of a girl and felt guilty she still wanted one.
They said: You need to try harder. Pump more and take this, it worked for my friend. You can’t give up, he needs colostrum otherwise his brain won’t develop as good as the other babies.
Joan’s water broke a day after her due-date while she was still working away at the office. She was totally ticked off that she didn’t make it to the end of her packed day. She got to the hospital, backed right into the epidural and had a glorious birth with no stitching required. Ruby was born a round 7 pounds with jet-black hair and a salacious appetite for the boob. Joan was hoping to be able to supplement because she’d pictured herself back to work within the month but her baby girl sent every bottle far up Joan’s ass. Her and her husband had secured a full-time nanny to start 3 weeks after they got home from the hospital but something happened during the first few days that Joan wasn’t prepared for. She couldn’t bare the thought of leaving Ruby.
They said: Oh, look who’s trying to be motherly now. I thought she cared so much about her stupid job. Serves her right for thinking a baby wouldn’t change her!
Joan and Amy exchanged messages and birth announcements. Joan was looking for a new apartment because hers was on the 24th floor of a high rise and the up and down was beginning to become tedious with the stroller. There was an apartment for rent in Amy’s building so Joan and Ruby moved in. Joan’s husband began to opt for more travel so she decided to stay home to compensate for her husband’s lack of interest in his new baby girl. Although her marriage was failing, Joan sailed into motherhood. It seemed she was a natural but Amy was suffering. Her guilt had overcome her. She suffered from what looked to be postpartum depression, although she never admitted it, except to Joan, the Lady in Louboutins, who saved her story.
They said: I bet Joan is just using Amy to take care of her kid while she sits on her computer all day. Dreadful. Why does Amy look so awful? She used to be so adorable but she looks like crap.
Joan registered for a night class in the city. A support group for all first-time moms who may be seeking some support or a night out.. Amy had to be dragged there and so she sat silent while others shared their stories filled with familiar guilt and resentment.
Francesca went shopping for the first time in months, only to return all the items the next morning because she felt guilty about spending money on herself. Jill went on a weekend getaway with her husband but didn’t make it to check-in because she felt guilty leaving her son crying on the floor. Georgia stayed in an abusive relationship because she felt guilty her children would grow up in a broken home. Sandy felt guilty she wasn’t volunteering at her daughter’s school so she took a demotion to free up her schedule. Despite their protests, Lori dragged her twin boys to skating twice a week because she felt guilty she didn’t teach them and their friends knew how. Amanda forgot to send her kid with a water bottle, Lucy left work to bring her kid a pair of mittens in a heat wave, Rachel lost her son’s favourite hat, Angela forgot to say ‘I love you’ and Natasha skipped a much-needed girls lunch over the guilt of the mess at home. Liz couldn’t sew, Jane couldn’t cook, Faith couldn’t afford next seasons must-haves, and Cassie couldn’t get pregnant again.
They said: Nothing more.
The women spent the hour trying to give guilt a holiday and judgment less power.
All the comforted moms wished for Amy to share but she just sat and listened looking defeated but changed somehow. Joan would never abandon her. She would always remember how kind Amy was during the pre-natal classes while so many women stared, judging. Joan was petrified of having her baby and Amy gave her confidence and support. She would say: “Joan honey, look at what you’ve done with your life so far, this will be a breeze!” Joan was convinced that it was because of Amy that she was so unafraid to start her journey. Someone really great had believed in her, which taught her far more than the damn classes.
Joan really didn’t know what to think. Even though Amy looked intrigued, would she ever get her back there? She didn’t care, she’d keep trying.
Drrrrrrrrring! “Hey Joanie, its Amy. We’ll head down for 8! Ill drive!”
Come again? Joan didn’t give a rats ass if they were heading to class. She was just happy with the enthusiasm coming through the phone.
There was a folder on the dashboard but Joan didn’t dare ask what it was. She was plenty satisfied catching a glimpse of her old friend and she was beginning to realize how much she missed her.
Amy had fixed her hair, put on a pair of trendy wedges and a romper that still had the tags on. Does she have lipstick on? She walked into the room and Joan wondered if the women would even recognize her. Amy asked if she could be the first to share and so she handed out the papers in her folder.
Joan gasped as she read the first few lines. It was a story about their friendship. Amy wanted everyone to know what it took her to get through her first months as a mother. It took someone that believed in her. It took support and reassurance so that she could succeed in drowning out all the judgment.
I still have my copy of Amy’s letter from our support class. I go back to it all the time because sometimes I forget what got me this far. Deep down I know how good I am at this job but like so many, I can’t shed the guilt of not being a bit better. When I have long days, I take it out on my kids. When I haven’t made time to make a healthy meal, I opt for fast-food. When I hear other kids reading better than mine, I feel ashamed I didn’t dedicate more time to it. When I send my kids in uniform on out-of-uniform day… well, I can be found under a rock somewhere.
So then why can’t we seem to shed the guilt? How come we can own our weaknesses in any other role but we can’t allow ourselves to be imperfect mothers? I have a theory… We’re not surrounded by enough women like Amy and Joan and we won’t ever begin to shed the guilt unless we turn our back on judgment.
Until being committed to doing our best becomes enough, we’ll always be vulnerable to the trendy way to be better. Moms are so diverse making us less willing to accept each other because we can’t be recognized. We’re all kinds! Working ones, homemakers, business owners, mommy bloggers, coaches and wallflowers, ones who prioritize health, others who prefer sleep, some are always outside, others focus on the books, ones who shop at Walmart, and ones who wouldn’t dare.
I can admit I’m not there yet. I’ve got too much to say sometimes and it’s something I struggle with. I’ll be fine though because I was blessed to witness the bond between Amy and Joan and because of them, I know what getting there looks like. I witnessed the freedom that knowing you’re doing your best can offer. And that doing worse than you could’ve ever imagined still won’t land you alone in the world. You’re a mom. You’ve got company for life.