Mother Knows Best?
I don't know why it is said that "Mother knows best." I never felt like I knew much of anything. I can so vividly remember the day I was sent home from the hospital with my first newborn daughter in my arms. It had all been such a beautiful and safe experience up to that point. Of course there were moments of pain and fear, but I felt that I was in good hands with professionals who understood the birthing process and would care for me and the baby. They showed me how to hold the baby, and breastfeed, and how to wrap the baby in a receiving blanket. They brought the baby in only for feedings and took her to the nursery when she cried. It was all so beautiful.
Then suddenly two days after this major life experience (while I was still in serious discomfort from an episiotomy), they put me in a wheelchair with the baby and sent us and my husband on our merry way. It felt surreal. We were in our mid-twenties. We had no idea what the hell to do from that moment on. And twenty-three years later, we still don't have a clue.
In fact, mothering is one of the few situations in which I feel completely powerless. I was never in control. From the very moment of conception, it was all out of my hands. I had two miscarriages, so fear was usually predominant especially in the first trimester. For nine months I waited anxiously as this being grew within me. All I could control was what I consumed really. Oftentimes I even seemed to have no control over that. Weird cravings hit at odd times of the day and night. It might sound cute, but it wasn't. When I had a craving, it was as if an alien possessed me. I had no control. This thing wanted hot dogs and anything else that contained nitrates. I was big into health food at the time, but I had no control. I ate the hot dogs and pepperoni.
I waited patiently as my body warped inside and out. It was a time of hope and trust; of fear and faith; of mystery and intrigue; of wonder and awe. Words could never describe the beauty of the birthing process. The body is so amazing, and all the intellect in the world is pretty much worthless when it comes to the birthing process. There's not much you can do except sit back and wait for the body to do what it is going to do while praying that what comes out is human. A miracle happens every single time a baby is born.
Somewhere along the lines I guess I forgot that feeling of powerlessness, and I started forcing my control. It's all with the best of intentions, of course. We're in a no-win situations, we mothers. You have to look at it from our perspective. We're to discipline, yet forgive; protect, yet release; guide, yet detach. We're expected to know everything, then we're told we know nothing. We're expected to be available, but we're told to get our own lives.
It's all very confusing, and I personally can never believe how seriously my kids take me! My youngest daughter and I were talking just last week, and I was apologizing for something I said recently. Then I thought about it and said: "I can't believe you take me that seriously!" My daughter laughed and replied: "You're my mom!" I was not much older than she is now when I was pregnant. Funny, isn't it? I replied: "I'm just like you, but I had a child. I wasn't given all the answers - just the child. I do the best I can." I think the saying should be changed from: "Mother knows best" to something like "Mother does her best with the best of intentions." That's the truth, and hopefully that's enough.
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