Of course, the variations of answers are innumerable. The answers for me were simple. Being a mother was the absolutely biggest thing I would do, bigger than buying a house, or creating a career. Each of these young ones were totally dependent on me and my partner for everything. What was I going to do?
I took the job on with gusto at the age of 18. My first child, born into what would soon be a broken home, carries the burdens of a young mother’s unguided mistakes. For these mistakes I have regret but the regret has motivated me to learn more and do better.
Ten years later, I met my partner and the father of our three children. Determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past, I set out on this thing called mothering in a familiar pattern: research project. I found that like with my first child, the medical birthing experience had ghastly dis-empowering statistics and the results were potentially devastating for the mother-child relationship. This I knew to be absolutely true, at least in my case.
My power was mine to give or take as I birthed this second baby. So I took back my power. The first Cesarean birth with complications was a horrible memory. The second birth was a home birth with loving, helpful people in attendance. The third birth changed the way I looked at the world, with a daughter joining the family. The fourth and final birth was my partner and me, then we were three. It was a profoundly spiritual experience. I finally felt healed as a woman, whole and competent.
The transformation was quite off-putting for many of my friends. They told me I was no longer a feminist but a breeder. Of course, they dwindled away.
Still radical, I didn’t understand but I did know my focus was no longer student action groups, political discussions or business meetings. The most important issues became the contents of baby food, recyclable butt wipes, and toxic chemicals in toys. The essence was radical but the mother theme took precedence. How were these little people going to view and be in this world? How was the world going to be for them? The answers are more complicated than doing laundry and cooking dinner, although those tasks did come with the job.
I’ve come to believe that if I want something enough, honestly seek the path, and work toward the goal, I can be whatever I wish. I wish to be a good mother and I am.
Bio: Kate O’Mara, Mama to 4, writes about history, kids, herbs and other fascinating tidbits from a place she lovingly calls “the corner.” Visit http://whenkateblogs.blogspot.com
Top photo credit: taylorschlades; bottom photo credit: author