When I was hoping to get pregnant and then later when I was, I sought advice, poring over articles on what to eat, what not to eat. I expected the days, months and years following delivery to adhere to a schedule and approach as defined by so many articles and experts. They did not.
When they laid Briar in my arms everything changed. I didn’t look for answers, didn’t refer to manuals. I was drunk with instinct, believing that I knew exactly what to do at each turn. Breastfeeding came easy to us, which may have been where the fearlessness came from, the heady experience of feeding, soothing, and forging a bond through my body to this perfect creature.
This isn’t to say that we didn’t have a witching hour or that I didn’t weep in my bed with exhaustion. Avery and Finley came, and still I trusted in my ability. I found a circle of moms online that are still with me today. I read their firsts, celebrated their triumphs, and sobbed over my keys as they experienced loss none of us could prevent.
As we passed down the back pack that had carried each of our girls, and as I faced the summer frocks, still so fragrant with sun screen and alive with the laughter they’d heard, that would not be passed down again, I understood that instinct and ability will never overpower life, with its currents and crashes so beyond our control.
Once again I search for guidance, a promise that we can survive whatever comes, acceptance as I read the words of others who echo of my own hopes and worries, the balm of knowing that life goes on. It changes, we lose and we falter, but the beauty and the exhilaration of hope persevere.
I found an article this morning from a dad. The cadence of his words is not perfectly in synch with what I would write, there are lines that at first I hoped would read differently, but as it went along I wept. Adding in bits of wisdom from others, questioning it, chuckling at it—it is a beautiful letter to a 21 year old daughter about life.
There is this gem from Maggie, who always draws me in, again, her words are different than mine, the life she lives so fascinating and foreign to me. I love reading her, partly because she isn’t afraid to write long sweeping posts, partly because she reminds me that we can be both—we can work hard and be silly, we can be stern, selfish, weak, hopeful. You could read any of her posts and come away happy that you did.
Tracy wrote a beautiful post on her middle.
This post by Lara about the Tooth Fairy.
Shannon, ahead of me on this road of parenting, gives me hope in ways that make me laugh and hiccup with tears.
I used to think it was dangerous or somehow representative of a lack of know-how to read articles about parenting. Now I seek them out like four leaf clovers, the hunt as pleasurable as the find. I know that I am in a meadow and that I am not alone.
You are still that friend to me – after all these years. As I discover the heartbreaking joy of being a mom, your words pop into my head often.
Anna, your voice, perhaps more than anyone I have ever known, stays with me, crackling and flickering in my ear. So many nights of talking. Love you.
Oh, how I love this, Amanda. The comfort of the words of others, the comfort you have brought to me – to make us feel a bit less alone in our “otherness” – it is precious and priceless. It has been like air for me at times. xoxo
Jamie, that is just the sweetest comment. Thank you. If I’m air, you are light.
Oh, YES. First of all, the way that mothering refuses to obey the neat strictures of the how-to books … that’s been my experience. Absolutely. But at the same time, I’m constantly, always hungry for the words of others, for experiences like or unlike mine, to remind me I’m not alone, to provide guideposts and lanterns, to help me understand this particular, unknowable, remarkable, extraordinary journey. Your name would be at the top of any list of people whose words provide solace, comfort, meaning. Thank you. And that picture: Amazing. xox
Thank you, Lindsey. I think the photobombing bottle of Tums is pretty perfect 😉
Thanks so much for including me here, Amanda. You know that every time your writing comes across my feed, I smile and know that I am about to nod along with your words. It is comforting to know that you are on this mothering journey with me.
I still feel new and raw in this mothering experience, so I do look to women like you (and Tracy, OMG I love her), to let me know that this journey is important, that it’s beautiful. Thank you.