Monday, June 3, 2013

This Journey Called Motherhood

I originally wrote this with the intent of submitting it in an essay contest for a magazine. I found out about the contest a little too late and couldn't quite get to the required 1,000+ word count. After several days after the deadline and many more modifications, I finally have a version I'm happy with and that's really me. There will be plenty of other contests...:)

My journey to motherhood began with a phone call, immediately followed by a plane ride and 10+ hour car ride across 7 states.  As I look back over the 10 months since my daughter's adoption, I’m still in awe that I’ve made this wonderful journey. I still have the list of things I needed to buy before taking my daughter home from the hospital, including formula, diapers and a pack-and-play. I was utterly underprepared to begin this journey.

As underequipped as I was, I realized I would not be taking this journey alone.  I've found that there are three important groups of travel companions that I’ve met on along the way: those that have made the trip before me, those that travel alongside of me, and those I have left behind.

In the first few weeks of sleep deprivation and spit up soaked clothing, I found comfort in the words of wisdom from those who had lived to tell about it. I looked desperately to my mom, my mother-in-law, and friends with older children for advice. They taught me how to coax out those stubborn burps with a “hiney wiggle”. They encouraged me to call my pediatrician for the 3rd time in one day to find out why my 4 month old would not stop crying (answer? reflux). They gave me permission to hold my sleeping baby for hours while the dishes sat in the sink and the laundry piled up around me. They fed me (cupcakes that my husband caught me eating at 2am) and shared hand-me-down baby clothes. They never doubted me and always encouraged me. These amazing women gave me confidence. Empowering and uplifting confidence that reassured me that I was a good mom and I was doing the right thing. To those women, thank you. I am forever grateful.

Over the next few months, I found friendship among moms with babies close to the age of my little one. We compared the best baby food (sun dried tomato puffs) while in line at the grocery store. We commiserated about going back to work.  We swapped names of babysitters and comforted each other while we left our screaming, sobbing babies at day care. We laughed at our latest “mommy brain” moments. We went throughout our workday without realizing we had formula on our pants and stashed extra diapers beside business cards in our purses. And we were all fast asleep at 8:30pm every night. These awesome women gave me more than support and giggles, they gave me sanity. Much needed stability and reassurance that I was still a good mom and I was still doing the right thing. To those women, thank you. I am forever grateful.

As I encounter new friends along my motherhood journey, I often find myself thinking about those who have been left behind.  Some have been left behind intentionally and others involuntarily.  I have met those seemingly well-intentioned moms who enjoy sharing parenting styles that differ from mine. At first, the conversations are informative and engaging. But they quickly become a forum for judging and criticizing.  These women gave me more than unnecessary drama, they gave me freedom. Freedom to realize they are unworthy to continue this journey with me because I know I’m a good mom and I know I’m doing the right thing.

Separated at first by distance and then by our own complicated emotions, I had to leave behind my daughter’s birth mother. For reasons unknown, communication between us ceased. She gave my daughter life and I had to help my daughter live it without her.  We remain forever connected but we will not continue this journey together. This woman gave me more than a daughter, she gave me trust. I was a complete stranger and she trusted me because she felt that I would be a good mom and I would do the right thing. To this woman, thank you. I am forever grateful.

These women have made what my motherhood journey is today. They have given me a glimpse of what’s down the road. They have held my hand and walked with me. They have lightened my load and they will not know of my travels.  I have appreciated then, I have enjoyed them, and I have let them go. To these women, thank you. I am forever grateful.