Not A Natural At Motherhood? Join The Club

Parenting is mostly a raw process--by no means for the weak.

Posted Aug 08, 2009

Motherhood did not come naturally. I used to think that was because I jumped into it midstream (given my kids' ages). Come to find out that wasn't the reason. The age thing (theirs) wasn't what made me feel more vulnerable than I ever imagined I could be, or ever wanted to be.

Motherhood changed my life on so many levels I still have the tendency to say it's made me an entirely different person. But when I stop and think about it, a more accurate description is to say it made me move beyond the person I thought I was supposed to be to finally see and find and accept the real me. Being a mother actually helped me grow me.

Parenthood is, well, intense. No kidding. It's mostly a raw process, not for the weak. And maybe less because you're raising kids and more because you're raising you, defining you, figuring out who you are-separate from your role as parent but all at the same time.

Oddly enough, being a parent taught me is how to be separate and to be okay with that. In her widely known book, My Mother/My Self, Nancy Friday said, "Separation is not the end of love. It creates love."

From a therapeutic-be-your-own-person perspective, this sounds right from the parent POV. Evolved. But honestly, what does separation mean?

Unless you're studying for a vocabulary quiz, the dictionary definition of separation provides little help. So I moved on to detachment, which provided some insight, albeit as the last entry here  Freedom from bias or prejudice.

But, alas, it's only possible for me to apply that to others when I first apply it to myself. Wait. Not judge myself? Who (or what) do I think I am-perfect? It's almost easier to make a snap judgment about myself so then I can go about "fixing" something. Actually, it takes far more discipline to not judge myself judgment and just sit with the me that's left. Sometimes I like what I see, sometimes not as much.

Whether made official through childbirth or adoption, motherhood carves a much different path than going childless-or being an aunt, cousin or godmother. Not better or worse, just different when it comes to the opportunities it presents to learn about yourself. Over time, interacting with your kids, you're going to be faced with the part of you that is lonely, fearful, controlling, annoying, pushy, passive, assertive, a pleaser, a pest, a know-it-all, a giver, the life of the party, the nurturer, the rock, the redeemer...pick one (or more) or add your own.

If there's a part of you that you don't much like, that you'd like to keep hidden, parenthood definitely pulls those covers. And when covers are pulled what are you left with? Real vulnerability.

The flip side? Pull those covers and you get your strengths, assets and all that makes you authentically you. Tap that and it's all worth it.