I used to dream about being mom to a blond-haired, brown-eyed boy, but when I was around other people’s kids, I vowed to have only houseplants as my dependents for the rest of my days. That vow changed one November day as I stared at two pink lines on a home pregnancy test. In a split second, my life changed and I no longer lived for myself (or my collection of houseplants). Eight years into this mom-gig, things are just as complicated as they were in that one second back in 2011. So, if time travel were possible and present-day me could write a letter to past-Mallory to prepare me (her) for what was to come, I’d say, “Buckle up!”
Celebrate motherhood, because it truly is a gift. The responsibility of being entrusted with guiding children is overwhelming, but so is the joy the journey brings. Each day will be a challenge, and you won’t always feel like you’re succeeding. You won’t recognize yourself most of the time, and it’s OK to grieve for the person you once were.
Your job as a mother is to learn to let go. Some days you’re going to wish your kids didn’t need so much, and other days you’re going to cry once they go to bed because they look so beautiful and are growing up so quickly. You’ll understand what it means to have your heart live outside of your body, and you’ll have that experience happen three times over.
Postpartum depression and anxiety will tell you some awful things: don’t listen. You’re a good mom – maybe even better than just good, some would argue, because you’ve allowed your kids to see that humans are flawed, mental health is essential, and their mom is a warrior who fights fiercely for herself and her family. You are enough.
That’s what I would write to myself, and it wouldn’t encompass nearly all that’s changed and will continue to change in my life because I chose to become a mother.
Think about your own life and what the word “mother” means to you. Did you struggle to conceive? Did you go through the adoption process? Were you surprised by an unplanned pregnancy? Have you decided motherhood isn’t something you want for your life? What’s your relationship like with your own mother?
It doesn’t matter how you answer any of those questions – the point is to get you thinking about being a mother and being mothered. The indigenous people of the Krahô village in Brazil believe children should have more than one mother. It truly does take a village to raise a child.
This year, with physical separation happening throughout the world, I think it’s more important than ever to take some time to think about the gifts motherhood has given us and celebrate all of the women who have been mothers to us.
Mallory Moser is a freelance writer