I had no clue

I was one of those women who really had no clue before I had children. I wasn’t one of those woman who had strong opinions about the right and wrong ways to mother children. I just thought you have a child and then move on with your life. I wasn’t prepared for how much becoming a mother would change me. I really had no clue, which is ironic considering I ended a major relationship with a man I thought I was going to marry all because he said he didn’t want children.

My picture of motherhood was that I would have a baby and then resume my life. That I would be able to take my baby all sorts of places, much as I take my purse or backpack places. Once at my destination, I would lay my baby down and it would be there, quietly, peacefully, contentedly waiting in the background of my life.

Of course it didn’t work out like that, not a bit.

The big picture is that becoming a mother turned my world upside down and inside out. Mostly in great ways, but not all great too.

Some early surprises:  I knew I would have a girl first. After all I was a women’s study major in college and had all sorts of fantasies about raising girl children into strong women. When my son arrived on the scene, it was a shock. I didn’t have any clue as to my baby’s sex before his birth. And it was a good thing I gave birth in a birth house in Vienna, Austria (another blog on that) at which the baby never leaves the mother’s side. Otherwise I was have sworn that this baby boy couldn’t have been mine, after all I was having a girl.

This child came out ready for his close-up; it turned out that he was not like a purse or a back-pack—at least not any I had ever owned. He was not willing and able to sit (or lie) contentedly in the background of my life. He needed constant holding. In fact the only time that child seemed to sleep his first five years were either in my arms, or tucked up next to me.

This child, my son, who was born on a hot summer day in Vienna Austria to a woman who had no clue, opened up my heart to a brand new adventure: me as a mother. I was clueless and while it felt all new and a bit strange (some of which was due to giving birth in a foreign country in another language) it also felt surprising familiar—as if this was what I had been waiting for, for so long.

Mothering a baby was a new activity for me. Of course I had done the requisite babysitting as a teenager and my father’s second wife had just given birth to her first child, my half-sister just a few years ago (also fodder for another blog post). I had been mothering friends and some family members before that, but it wasn’t until my son was born that I started my in-depth mothering adventure. Now, looking back 23 years later, I recognize his birth as a new beginning not only for him as a human, but also for me as a mother to him (later his sister) and even myself as a woman.

I had little real training and wasn’t prepared for how much my heart would open to this baby, who never slept or wanted to leave my side. His strong need for me, and what I offered was just what I needed: mothering by the seat of my pants, or should I say in the depth of my heart.

 



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7 thoughts on “I had no clue

  1. dani

    I know the feeling! I never really thought about having kids, ever, but when we had Maya I felt completely unprepared. I was so against having a child ( just bad experiences from my background ) that I swore I was having a boy. A nice tough little boy who would never realize how inadequate I was at being a mom. On the day of the ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby, I remember them telling me it was a girl and I went into a panic attack and ended up in the hospital. I was so worried that I wouldn’t know what to do with a little girl that I actually almost ended up losing her. I know part of it was because I didn’t really have a ‘motherly’ mother. I had a younger brother and never really got to help out raising him. I wasn’t around any family or friends that had babies so I really had no clue. When Maya was born I remember thinking how in the hell would I get through this. I was exhausted, I had no support, beyond my in laws who lived hours away. I was the breadwinner so I had to go back to my job two weeks in and that made me so sad. One thing that really connected me to motherhood was breastfeeding. Originally I said I was not going to attempt it because I was too shy to do it. I felt very ashamed just thinking about it even though my mom told me I breastfed until I was around 4. My sister in law stepped in, after raising 3 babies herself and told me that it was the ONE thing in motherhood that I didn’t want to miss out on. That is was the most bonding experience of her life. I am so glad she spoke to me and helped me because I truly feel that getting to feed Maya until she was 18 months old when she self weaned, made me into the mother I am today. I was really proud to say she only had about 2 ounces of formula her whole life, due to the hospital giving it to her before I woke up from surgery. I know not every mom can do this, so I feel even more special knowing I was able to overcome my own shyness and do something amazing for my baby. Even at work when they made me pump in the stinky gym shower, I remember thinking that every bit of hard work was worth it for her.

    Being a mom rocks!

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Wow, you sound like a great mom–being there for your daughter. It is a struggle for each of us to be the kind of mom we want to be, especially when we didn’t have role models we want to emulate. Sometime we use the mothers we know as positive role models and want to be just like them, other times we chose to become mothers based on NOT being like the mothers we know in our lives.

      Reply
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  5. Jenelle Daniels

    Sweet recollection of birthing your baby boy Heidi. Having my son at 21 certainly has shaped everything in my life. This month he will be 18 wow! Being a single mommy for over 8 yrs proved challenging. Nevertheless its so amazing how we make a way no matter the circumstance. Its been a journey and is really great to hear others mothering stories.

    Reply
    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      I also love to hear other’s mothering journeys and have to admit to feeling baffled y those mothers who don’t move heaven and earth for their kids. I get that there are many ways to raise a child. And that no one solution fits all, but those who reject or only half-embrace their kids and the mothering role confuse me. Please note that I am NOT talking about employment versus staying at home, but rather about making our kids our priority–which can be done with or without employment in my opinion. I have seen wonderfully connected mothers who nurture and raise wonderful kids and I have seen other mothers who say they want to be mothers but when it happens they only half-embrace the mothering role and their kids suffer for it.

      Reply

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