I was raised by my mother. Her rules, her way, her decisions, her. I always wanted to be a daddy’s girl but no matter how hard I tried, I was a mommy’s girl. I co slept forever because her presence brought me a level of peace I could’t seem to find in myself. No matter how much we disagreed, she showed unconditional love. At the end of the day, she was all I had and I knew that whether I liked it or not. Time spent with my dad was lovely! He took me places and we watched movies at his house and of course he took me shopping, but because our time together was always “A good time” and I recognized that he wasn’t there for the roller coaster of life, I couldn’t ever fully feel secure in our relationship with him as a provider, protector, disciplinarian or any of the other things I idealized a father should be.
My parents worked well as coparents as they remained friends but when it was all said and done, I received my main upbringing from that of my mother and the environments she placed me in. I have watched many families over the years and the adventure of parent hood. I have watched my friends ask one parent and if they didn’t receive the answers they desired they tried the other and I watched their excitement when both parents would pick them up from daycare and they would drive off into wherever. I knew I was missing something but it never really mattered.
As I grew into adulthood, and my friends became parents, I listened to their stories of single motherhood and how frustrating it was to lack support or even interest in their child(ren). They would speak of the effects and I would try to comfort them by sharing my experience and letting them know that their children would value their efforts and love and affection but they still longed for the support and efforts of their children’s fathers and I can’t blame them. In dating , I mentally prepared myself to be with a man with children and every potential mate I would ask about his relationship with his parents, his relationship with his children and his relationship with the mother(s) of said children. These conversations taught me two things. 1. I had a thing for traumatized guys (thats another blog in itself) and 2. Their fathering was directly impacted by the experiences they had growing up. (sn. this is not to justify their actions…simply an observation) For me this just told me that I wanted to be with someone who had witnessed a consistent and positive active male/father figure in his life.
So here I am, boo’d up with this southern/country man from a two parent home who adores his father. As we approach marriage the comments start coming in about what great parents we will be and I agree! We met working with children after all and hes like the best uncle I’ve ever seen and its gonna be great! Right? So why am I afraid? I worked myself through most of these fears by concluding that although they are the stories of others, this is my story and I can’t place fear on something that hasn’t even gotten a chance to take place. Yet, there was one thing I did’t shake so easy. Especially after I was pregnant. How do I parent a child with someone else? What does it look like to make decisions on one person together? What happens when we have different methods or ideas? So we talked about it and he made a great point. This is both of our first child. This is not a niece or nephew, a godchild or a ex partners child. This is our child. We will figure it out one day at a time. It wont always be perfect but if we remain a team, our common interest of wanting what is best will prevail.
It seems as if just after I got my sea legs of wifehood, I jumped into the foreign land of being a mother. I share a life and partnership with this man but I shared my body with this baby. However it remains at the forefront of my mind that I will always be a mother but that same hope does’t come instantly with always being a wife and it takes a level of prayer, patience, hard work and balance to make it all work. And still I feel like I am not doing a good job at either! If I work too hard at one I feel like I’m neglecting the other and of course the thing that seems most urgent is tending to this little guy that depends on us for everything. I am learning how to consider my partner when making choices for our family. It feels so foreign to me in the moment and I have to constantly remember that I am not in this alone, I have help and also that its ok to speak up, that my needing help doesn’t make me an incapable mother or partner it makes me human. To be honest, I’m not sure when or where I decided that being a wife and being a mother could be a thing but forgot about the concept of simply being a family. We are a team and even bigger than that we are blessed with an amazing village and community that supports and uplifts us. The things I observed and experienced growing up are a part of me but only carry as much weight in my current life as I allow them to; and as I continue to grow it gets less and less heavy.
When I read about the beloved Proverbs 31 woman it can be hard at times to see myself in her. She is out here doing all the things! She’s up early, working hard, taking care of her children, making her husband look good, and she finds way to be this sweet kind business woman! The bible even says in verse 29 that many daughters have lived virtuously, but thou excellest them all. (Shes biblically better that everyone!) However, I came across this quote that said “Proverbs 31, It’s not a checklist of what you’re not. It’s a celebration of who you are.” Being an idealized version of what I thought a wife and mother looked like won’t get me nearly as far as being a real version of the work in progress that I am will. I possess the qualities of this woman already. I am working hard to refine and cultivate and grow in areas just as much as the rest of the women in my world and I celebrate the journey.
If you can relate, join me by giving yourself grace, time and love in this season! Take deep breaths and even deeper belly laughs and feel all the feelings as you continue to push. Lean on your support systems and don’t forget about yourself as you navigate the new.