What to Expect

For all the mama’s out there I’m almost certain that the moment we found out we were going to become that mama is cemented in our mind. That tiny moment when the double lines show up or the phone call is made that your baby is coming home. Your world changes in an instant, your heart grows beyond what your chest can hold, and love and fear dance inside of you. A life, a precious life, is now yours for tending as it grows into full blossom. A life to love beyond what you’ve ever defined before.

I’ve had both of these moments; I’ve grown two beautiful sons in my womb and I’ve adopted. Each time the knowledge of becoming a mama to a new life came this love washed over me. The first time this happened was vastly different from the subsequent experiences because, well, experience…

When I became pregnant with Henry the excitement and joy of motherhood overwhelmed me. I ran to Barnes and Noble to pick up the bible for babies, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” Every Sunday I would leaf through my stage of pregnancy, “You’re a bean, a mango, a tiny watermelon,” in pure awe of “it’s eyelash week, you’re growing nails!” I could not get enough of the life growing inside of me. I spent hours on Pinterest designing his nursery and “style,” pushing my cart through Babies “R” Us with a veteran mama, and filling my home with everything Henry. The excitement was everything, becoming his mama was a joy I had never felt.

Eradicating Erroneous Expectations

I look back on preparing to become a mama and as I type it I have a deep love for myself. I was cherishing his life growing and floating in the wonder of becoming a mama. I can almost touch the younger version of myself, and as I do I murmur, “Oh honey, I see your love, how wonderful.” It is wonderful to hold love as you begin the journey into motherhood. It is also incredibly naive to think that rainbows and unicorns, okay Pinterest and Babies “R” Us, have anything to do with motherhood. Pinterest and Babies “R” Us have everything to do with marketing the idea of motherhood. As I pushed my first son into the world I was quickly indoctrinated into the real world of motherhood. Henry, my darling son, would not sleep for over an hour for six months with a livid refusal to be put down. Henry came to life and so did motherhood. By the end of three years, I had three sons aged 1, 1 ½, and 14. Today I have a 5, 6 1/2, and 18-year-old.

Over the past six years, I have spent more time than I can count sarcastically telling a friend, “They don’t tell you that in ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’…” Being a mama is the best and hardest thing I have ever done. I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this. As I write these words to you I’m continuing to navigate the journey of motherhood that I’ve just begun. Each day has tiny treasures, like warm cheeks at bedtime, and each day has something that knocks me on my ass telling me, “You’ve got a lot more to learn.”

My little sons are full of huge emotions and my oldest son is grappling with the independence of 18. What I never knew, and wish someone had told me, is that motherhood is both raising your children and rebirthing yourself. You will be faced with a million challenges both from your children and the world that surrounds them (and you). In each of these moments is the paradox of, “Can you respond as the sturdy leader of your family, or are you back in the dirt working through it, hoping to come out of it with either a solution, or peace, or both?”

Earthing to Center on Love

I think of those “dirt moments” as the ones that knock me on my ass. The times I shout and wish I wouldn’t, the times my children lay a line of my so hurtful I cringe, that one time someone who will not be named threw a taco because it had sour cream followed by, “Bitch!”, and every time the world hands us something harmful or hard that I’m supposed to have the answer for. This is the dirt, the earth, the raw pain of parenthood paired with the soft remembrance of the gift of earth and life. In the dirt I envision myself rolling my pant legs up, planting my feet (or cheek depending on the day), and breathing deeply into it. The salt of my tears dance with the dirt as I tap my own heart, “I am love,” I remind myself, “I am love.” In the dirt I tell myself, I have more to learn, that this thing that has brought me here again needs a tender, open heart to listen, and so I do.

The time I spend in the dirt is vastly different each time I find myself there. My youngest son likes to do this trick. He asks me my name, taps his nose, asks me what it is, and then giggles, “Jessie, nose, nothing.” My little man giggles, yet I touch my nose each time I am in the dirt because it reminds me that I know nothing of this world. Each moment of parenthood that has brought me here reminds me that I am also a life and a life that is learning. This willingness to sit with what I do not know opens my heart to my children and me. When I do not know what to expect, the only thing I can expect is to humble myself enough to be open to the love that brought these children to life.

Motherhood may not come with bows and Instagram-perfect feeds. By the time I was pregnant again, I bought a pack of Pjs. It turns out I cloth-diaper, breastfeed, and co-sleep my babies. It also turns out that raising a teenager is harder than holding a baby for six months. And yet, yet… Motherhood has everything I could not expect and more. Motherhood is carving me into the woman that has always been inside of me, allowing me to shape my sons into the men they will always be. Motherhood is a tribe within us all, knowing we are not alone as we raise ourselves and our children in this world.


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