When you announce your entrance into this crazy dance called motherhood, there is going to be cheering and laughter. There will be parties! With presents! And hugs, and tears, and crying and congratulations. Then, there will be questions, so many questions. What are you having? Do you have a name? Are you planning a natural birth? Have you considered birthing in water? Are you going to breastfeed? (Get ready for it darling, perfect strangers will ask you about your breasts in the middle of the cereal aisle.) Is it an international adoption? What country are you going through? Can you accurately express for me your views on adoption ethics in three minutes or less?
Beware the questions that are only asked as an opening to an opinion you do not want. The follow up opinions will be frequent. You can’t name your baby that. You really should consider natural birth. You will ask for the epidural when the labor starts! Breast is best! My kids were raised on formula and they are fine!
People will have opinions about sleeping and eating and baby carriers and strollers. There will be endless debates about breasts and bottles, epidurals and water births, the merits of open adoption. I don’t have any advice about any of that. I only have my story. I know what worked for me and you will learn what works for you. Listen closely, you have the answers inside. You are, after all, the mom God picked out special just for that perfect babe of yours. And lovely new mom, there is grace, oh so much grace in the motherhood dance, there is permission to get it wrong.
But there is one thing they will tell you that I am sure is wrong. There is one piece of advice that I will hand out freely and earnestly to anyone who will let me put it into their hands. Bring your whole self to motherhood, even the creative pieces, even the messy parts covered in paint and ink, soaked in un-attained dreams. Your baby needs their momma to dream.
Some will tell you to fold up your creativity, to tuck it away safely into a box labeled “maybe when the kids are bigger” and hope for the best in ten plus years. There are those who tell you that this time filled with onesies and blankets, binkies and bottles is the time when the creative piece of yourself will need to go dormant. There simply is not time.
Don’t listen to that garbage. I may not know whether or not you should work, but I am sure your child needs their whole mother. All of her. If you are a painter, paint, if you are a writer write, if you are a culinary genius bake it out (and send me a care package, I’ll leave you my address.) Your babies need all of you, even the creative part, especially the creative parts, the parts that make you feel alive and whole and hopeful. Your babies need their momma to be all of those things. They need to see you being your whole entire self. It gives them permission to be their whole-selves too.
As mothers we have the responsibility to keep our children safe and fed and mostly clean. But we have the privilege to show them a wild and free life with a God who delights in our offerings. Don’t let yourself be put into a box that you don’t fit into simply because it is labeled “what a mom looks like.” You already are a mom, you are what a mom looks like now.
I am learning all of this too. I am learning to put away the dreams of writing by the seaside with nothing to hear but the tide coming in and my own thoughts swirling in my head. I declare that chaos is my muse and crank up the Pandora kids station. I am interrupted mid-sentence by a one year old begging for a dance party. I shove away the fear that all my thoughts will be gone and throw her on my hip. I trust that the words will be there when I can come back to them and watch the naked three year old learn to shake her hips. If the words aren’t there when the dance is over, I find something new. I am learning to trust that my creativity can shout over the chaos. It can if I let it.
Some days, when I am sure I am at the end of my rope and ready to pack all of my dreams in, I instead shake them off and spread them wide. I call my husband, my sister, my friend, and beg for a few hours at the coffee shop. I invest in myself, in my creativity.
Lovely lady, your sons and daughters need a mom who values herself as a woman, as a creative, who values her whole life just the way she was created to live it. All of what you do every day is valuable, and it is good and wonderful to pour value into it. Even when it feels silly and frivolous, maybe especially then.
So here’s to you and your wonderful news, you are entering this crazy dance called mother hood. May our babies grow up and proclaim, of course moms paint and write and dance, mine did! If we have to sacrifice a picked up living room some days or pick up a pizza to get there, if we have to begin our great works using the moments after bedtime with blocks under our feet, so be it.
Abby - a mom with a dream
Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta. She has two hilarious children and a husband that doubles as her copy editor and biggest fan. If two in diapers and a full time job teaching English at a local high school don’t keep her busy, you can find her blogging at accidentaldevotional. Abby loves all kinds of Girl Scout cookies, and carries a dream of one day writing a book about teaching in her heart.