Thoughts on motherhood
I grew up in a culture where motherhood was expected. Above all else it was your fertility which seemed to mark your value not your talents, your education or your skill set. If you were a woman people assumed you would want at least half a dozen babies and preferably before you reached the ripe old age of thirty. Outside interests seemed to be constantly dismissed and motherhood reigned supreme. I remember feeling conflicted as a teenager and thinking the idea of being a wife and mother really sounded like no fun at all. So what if I wanted to wait awhile before having children or worse yet didn't want them at all?!
As I became older and around the marrying age I was constantly bombarded with people wanting to know when I would be getting married. It seemed in their mind my biological clock was ticking. Once I made the decision to marry people often assumed children would come soon thereafter. When this did not happen there was judgement all around me. Confident in my decision I really could have cared less what others. When my husband and I got married we decided we would wait awhile before we began to grow our family. Looking back, it was in those childless, carefree years we cemented our friendship and devotion toward one another. We worked hard, we traveled, we dreamed and fell deeper and deeper in love with each other and our life together. Once we decided to start our family we were both a little hesitant. How would life change? Would we enjoy being parents? Would we still be able to travel again? Would we be happy?
I remember my very first Mother's Day six years ago when I was pregnant with our first son, Asher, and no one knew I was pregnant. After church my husband presented me with a handwritten note. In that note he described how excited he was to raise a child together. Almost in an instant I arrived to this newfound space of motherhood, excitement for my new life and cultural acceptance.
Being a parent in many ways has been the complete opposite of everything I thought it might be. Before we had children people often liked to tell us what we would and wouldn't be able to do once we had children. It was as if they have created a manual for others to follow. Eating out? Definitely not. Traveling? Most likely no. Following your dreams? Dreams...you should kiss those goodbye. However, motherhood for me has not taken away my life, but given me a richer one. Motherhood has deepened my understanding of myself and has been the driving force behind me following my passions and interests. Certainly, being a mother takes up a majority of my time, but it has also empowered me to become a truer version of myself. Being a mother has given me the drive to work harder and more efficiently. I believe the best teacher is by example. Which means I cannot profess to believe something is good for my children but does not apply to me.
With my first son, Asher, my nesting consumed most of my free time and all of my brain power. I made quilts (two to be exact) because the first seemed a little too "girly" after much to my surprise I found out we were having a boy. I also spent endless hours searching high and low for the perfect wardrobe for my little one and bought so many clothes it was as if all baby clothing stores were shutting down for good. I kept my excitement around others to a minimum because I was not entirely certain what to expect or how my life would change. As a result, this left some people closest to me doubting my excitement for our little one.
In the midst of a picture perfect pregnancy one day our baby's heart stopped beating. I was thrown into the depths of grief and pain. Thanks to my faith and the prayers of others I found a new normal in my once again childless life. I grew weary of all the nosey questions about when we would have more children or what was wrong with me for our child to die. A little over a year later a miracle occurred and I began to grow another life inside me. The minute I saw that little heartbeat on the monitor my love for him knew no bounds. Once again I kept my excitement in front of others to a minimum because I knew all to well how this could end.
On the night Jasper was born it was stormy much like the past two years of my life had been. When our eyes met he looked at me with such peace all I could do was weep with joy. In the coming months, fear of loosing him forced me to love deeper and truer than I had ever done before. Months grew into almost a year and much to my astonishment and delight I was expecting again. In many ways it felt like I was getting Asher back, (not in the reincarnated sense) but in having two children so close in age. Once again the minute I saw that little heartbeat on the monitor my love for my third child knew no bounds.
Upon our return from celebrating Asher's third birthday I sensed something was amiss. Fearing the worse I made a doctor appointment for the very next morning. The doctor assured me everything was fine, but my heart sank because I knew it wasn't. Like something out of a bad dream the same doctor which delivered my first two children uttered the haunting words, "I'm sorry there is no heartbeat" How could this be? I naively thought to myself "Haven't I suffered enough?!" At thirteen weeks, my third child left this earth and took with them another piece of my heart.
I am so grateful for all my children. I realize many people think of me as a mother of one, but I have two strong and beautiful angels watching over me too. Often I wish they were all physically with me and because they can't be, it hurts. As a result all the love I carry for three is compressed into one tiny human.
Motherhood for me has not been a fairy tale of stress free pregnancies, and endless baby showers. Motherhood for me suddenly ripped out my heart and slowly over the years has sewn it back together. Motherhood for me was something I needed to prepare for and not rush into. Nowadays, I am uncertain what the future holds for our little family. I don't know how much pain and disappointment my heart can take in trying to grow our family again. In the meantime, I try to focus on gratitude and being the best mother I can be.
For those of you who wish you were mothers, are fighting hard to become mothers, grieving the loss of a child(ren) or are uncertain if you ever want to become a mother I understand a portion of what you might be feeling. Out of respect to you may you never hear a complaint about Jasper cross my lips. People often warn me if I have another child this level of care, concern, enthusiasm and attention to detail will wane, but I assure you for this mama that will not be the case. I am not a perfect mother, but when it comes to singing my heart out, playing cars for hours on end, and finding endless ways to entertain a toddler without television I try my best. I spend a majority of each day trying to teach him to be helpful, to love work, to be polite and feel gratitude for the beauty around him. For the constant gratitude in my heart, the smile plastered to my face and the intense love I feel for him Jasper he was worth the wait and consistently gets the best portion of me.
These photos were taken on October 3, 2015 at Gordon Skagit Farm on what would have been Asher's third birthday when I was pregnant with our third child and quite possibly feeling like the most blessed woman on the planet.