If you’re anything like me, you had never before experienced anything quite like the second-guessing that accompanied motherhood. I suppose this could be the reality felt by anyone who has just become the sole responsibility of anything consequential. So, if that’s you…let’s commiserate.
When Bridger was born, a tiny me crawled up on top of my right shoulder and made camp. Ever since, day in and day out she has been whispering, “Are you sure? Was that the best decision?” She is frazzled and a neigh-sayer and in all the ways obnoxious. Her name is Self-Doubt.
This miniature-shoulder-mama is not alone.
Her sister Pride used to hang out on my left shoulder but was knocked off the moment I twosie’d myself in front of my lover during labor. Pride held on to my shirt-tail for a while, but eventually got kicked to the curb with each pair of spit-up-stained-pants I wore into public and the typing of that last sentence.
Their cousins, Wisdom and Experience, are constantly throwing elbows to move in and set-up shop. They get a bit louder as we learn and can share more things. But then my son eats three leaves while I’m running my mouth to a neighbor, and they take backseat to the worst of them all—Guilt.
I looked at my baby today while we were at the pediatrician giving him his 1/2 birthday present: shots. And after he was done massacring that crinkly table paper (and surely ingesting some of it as well), I watched his smiling face turn to a furled brow turn to a scream that unmistakably communicated “I’m hurting!” And in no time, that (plus the ever gut wrenching “mamama”) ushered in the council of shoulder-women with their feet dangling at my clavicle, whispering all the conflicting things into my ears.
I’m used to these inner wars now. Or more used to them, I guess. They come in the middle of the night when I’m questioning how I’ve chosen to keep Bridger warm…too warm?…not warm enough?…warm with a covering that is dangerous? They come when I am holding him wondering if I should let him self-explore more on the ground. Once he’s put on the ground, they come as I’m wondering if he’s getting enough affection to be a whole and healthy human being. They come when I am at work and when I’m not at work. They come as I hesitate at the thought of being an overly concerned parent and as I hesitate at the thought of being a neglectful one. They come as I wonder if the way I respond to his fussing with “you’re ok, you’re ok” will be scarring to him; and I ask, “Will he feel like he is able to have emotions other than happiness around me?” They come when I attempt to not respond in that way, but then ask myself if I will become the enabling one. Of course they come when I think about the world and it’s incredible violence right now—I cant help but ask HOW am I going to be everywhere at all times, fully in the know enough to throw myself down in front of all the scary things headed in his direction. They come when anyone even so much as bats an eye at the choices we’ve made in childcare, medicine, diapers, schedules, soothing, not soothing, work, food, etc.
Somewhere along the line, I told myself that my “room for error” in raising this human looked much more like a tight rope than a fairly extensive and forgiving field. Cognitively, I have to believe that we’re working with much wider ground than the thin lines of this self-imposed wire, or else the world would fall apart…right? If it were so easy to ruin everything, wouldn’t everything already be…ruined?
I think my thinking needs a bit of an overhaul.
And I think maybe I’ll try something new. There’s a mini-mama that I don’t hear from quite enough; and I’d like to feed her a bit more, raise her to the surface. Duh her name is Empowerment, and she comes from the gut, not the mind or the heart. She is relentless, intense, and passionate. She is calm, and gentle, and confident. She can celebrate the diversity in child rearing without feeling threatened in her own choices. She listens, spurs on, builds up. She dances in the kitchen while the bottle is warming. She’s strong with her words when people aren’t being nice or fair. She laughs at the things she doesn’t know and altars her path to learn more rather than crumbling. She creates to process and to deal and to express. She wants good, but is more than ok with it taking a while to get there. She gets that the journey is the thing, and she understands that stuff comes up and we adjust. She knows we’re ok. She knows we’re going to be ok.
With that, I’ve created a playlist to help Empowerment have a voice again on the days when all the others are drowning her out. Feel free to make it your own by going here on Spotify (but the song list is below)!
- For a reality check in how big your love actually is: Sandra McCracken’s “Storehouse”
- To remember HOW INCREDIBLY POWERFUL YOU ARE: Joy William’s “Woman”
- When you need some Beyonce: Beyonce’s “Blue”
- For those long drives when you just want to feel it because it’s all hard and new: Sarah Bareilles “Uncharted”
- That moment you get to break away by yourself and just BE ANYWHERE for a minute: Jason Derulo’s “Ridin Solo”
- When the day is just right and you are grateful for the folks in your life helping you get through it: Sara Grove’s “Twice as Good”
- For those cold afternoons: Josh Garrel’s “Benediction”
- OR Sleeping at Last’s “Daughter”
- When you’ve realize the house will never be clean and you’d rather dance than cry: Sara Grove’s “Setting Up the Pins”
- After you’ve come to terms with the fact that you can’t do everything, and that’s ok: Missy Wise’s “Turn It Up”
Tell us what songs you would add to feel empowered in the comments below!