Healing through Motherhood
This was posted a couple of months ago at Feminist Mormon Housewives. It is the epilogue to my first post “Waiting to be healed.”
I never thought much about being a mother. Of course, I always assumed I would be one because it’s just what you do, but motherhood was always an ambiguous concept that I refused to think about. I was focused on graduate school and the brilliant career I was going to have as a feminist historian. And then I got married and graduate school didn’t happen but pregnancy did.
All of a sudden, I found myself in a situation that I had never thought about, not even imagined. I was so conflicted, knowing that I should have been happy but feeling so incredibly inadequate. I couldn’t be a mother; I had no mothering skills at all and I didn’t like babies. More than anything, I was afraid that I would pass on all my insecurities to this child. I did not want to let my own frustration with life damage him the way my parent’s had me. I felt myself falling into the darkness that consumes. The hopelessness inside me was overwhelming, almost as if I had been buried alive. Pregnancy released the painful memories from my childhood that I had worked so hard to forget about. The loneliness and fear I had felt as a child came crashing down on me until I could hardly breathe.
The waves of hopelessness pounded me for months until one Sunday, sitting in Sacrament Meeting, I heard the Lord speak. “The child will heal you.” I felt a wriggle in my womb as if the baby I carried was trying to assure me of this truth. Something other than myself knew that being this child’s mother would provide the balm to my weary soul. A calm in the storm came and so I waited.
The day of my delivery arrived. It was long and exhausting. I had chosen to have my baby in a birth center so I could have a natural childbirth. I wanted to feel every contraction, every movement. I wanted to touch the power of womanhood. As I transitioned, the pounding waves came again, but this time they were physical and primal. I pushed for two hours; wondering through each contraction whether this would be the one to snuff out my life. And then I felt Her. The love was unbelievable. I was surrounded by my husband, mother and father, sister and two midwives, but theirs was not the only love I felt. My unnamed Mother, the one that I had so often longed for was with me, stroking my damp hair and holding me through the pain. I could not voice Her presence but I know She was there.
That night, as my husband lay sleeping, I tried to calm my beautiful newborn son. As he fussed and cried, I felt the familiar panic rise up in my throat. I saw the sadness in his big, blue eyes and I did not know how to comfort him. Tears came to my eyes as I felt my inadequacy; but without thinking, a simple tune escaped my lips. My crying child quieted. As I sung those cherished words of the realization of a Mother, my son, the child sent to heal me, looked at me with the deep perception that only newborns posses, as if to say, “I know, Mama. She is with us.” I felt Her presence and Her overwhelming love for me and my son. She has been with us ever since, whispering in my ear, lovingly instructing me how to be a mother. And that has healed me.