We cannot help but to compare our experiences with other moms. It seems that in so much of our everyday parenting, we tend to look outwards at others and then make a determination about our own efforts to raise children. Too often, we ask ourselves: does this experience give us greater claim to motherhood?
There are many examples I could give you but there is just one I’d like to touch on for now. This is something I’ve heard from many moms about recently. It is something that goes deep into the core of our identity as mothers and I would argue, sometimes so much so it is a detriment to us.
It is the experience of child birth.
Child birth is wonderful yet traumatic, special yet common, and varies so greatly from mother to mother. It is an important part of our experiences as mothers but it isn’t the only part and it doesn’t come in just one shape or size.
In the last couple of years I’ve talked with moms who’ve felt that somehow their birth experience was less or didn’t really count. They think because they had a c-section or an epidural that they were weak or that their experience was not what it should have been. They think because they adopted and didn’t have the opportunity to be pregnant that they missed out on something. They leave the birthing process with sadness, guilt, or shame over how it occurred. I understand. My first birth experience did not go as planned. But we should not stand for this.
All births count.
You may have become a mother through sperm/egg donation, adoption, c-section, with pain medication, all natural, or some other means but we have all been through a birth experience. It may not have been what we thought, but what in parenting really is?
When you hold your child for the first time, at 3 seconds old or 3 months, you have experienced a birth. You have become a mother when just one second ago you were not. You will be overcome with feelings of joy and fear and everything in between. You will spend the next however many years giving of yourself. A little face will call you mommy and need you in the middle of the night when he is sick. She will look to you for guidance. He will reach for you when comfort is needed. There will be tears and laughs and snuggles and so much love.
These are the experiences that make us mothers. It is the hours of devotion and patience and love that gives us the right to call ourselves moms. The birthing experience is special, yes, but all births count. There is no one definition.
So to those of you who are waiting to enter motherhood or are already mothers, I ask that you take this into consideration. We become mothers in different ways but no one way is better than another. Your experience as a mother, however it started, is significant, and you should not feel anything but a strong sense of pride for what you’ve accomplished.