I think most of us have heard the quote, “be kind, for you never know what anyone is experiencing or going through”- or some variation on that idea. What I have learned in the last few years that is along the same lines, albeit a bit different is the idea that everyone knows something you don’t. By that, I don’t just mean that the person sitting next to you on the bus has a different level of education from you, has read an article you haven’t, or works in a different industry. I mean that everyone around you, even the ones that live in the same city or work in the same field as you, experience life in a completely different way. Recently, I’ve had my own experience of “crossing the threshold” from one plane of understanding to another- when I became a mother.
Mother’s day is this Sunday, and it is the first one I have spent as a mother. In my family, we unfortunately didn’t grow up making a big deal about Mother’s Day- partly because my mom doesn’t like being made a fuss over (or at least that’s what she says), or perhaps because they’re a cynical bunch who believe that most holidays were a product of a Hallmark & Hershey’s partnership. However, this year will be very different to me. When I look around me at all of the mothers who have had an impact on me- my mother, my mother-in-law, my closest friends who have kids, my fellow coaches’ wives, I see the strongest people in our society.
Looking back, I remember having so much fear about giving birth, and could hardly see past the act of labor. All I could think about was the unbearable pain, hours of contractions, anxiety about whether or not our son would be alright, and what if something went wrong. Now, I laugh at how I thought that would be the hard part. I hadn’t thought ahead to the weeks of recovery and awkward mesh underwear, the total mental and physical exhaustion that came from never sleeping more than 2 hours at once, the stress and pain of a blocked milk duct (and thinking I’d failed at breastfeeding), the total hopelessness when I couldn’t get him to stop crying in the middle of the night, the separation anxiety when I had to return to work, the awkward task of pumping and chilling milk in a male-dominated office, or the guilt I feel every time I’m away from him. When I look at a mother, that’s what I see now. Before July 27th 2018, I never understood that the mothers around me lived with all of those things day in a day out- and many managed to also cook dinner, clean the house, put on makeup and do their hair, and work out?! How is that even possible? Well, I can tell you now, that all any of us can do is literally take it one day at a time.
In the last 9 months, I’ve had so many ups and downs. I dealt with all of the usual steps toward feeling “normal” again after having had a baby, and I also battled (still do) postpartum depression and anxiety. There are days that I feel my soul being sucked out when my son cries, and I want to be anywhere but there. But those days have become far fewer and far between. Now, I think I’ve climbed the hill and can say with confidence that I trust that everything will be okay, I’m doing the best I can, and that our little babe is in the best hands he possibly can be in- because all of that energy I’ve put in has been out of the world’s most powerful love one can ever experience- the love of a mother.
I don’t think of mothers as just mothers anymore. I think of each and every one of them as Warriors. So, here’s to you, all the Warriors walking into work with their pump in their laptop bag, or planning their family’s dinners for the week, or dropping their baby off with a sitter so they can go to the gym for just an hour of “me” time. I see you and salute you all. Happy Mother’s Day- or rather – Happy Warrior’s Day!