I have never exactly been the quiet type.
College, first job, grad school, teaching. Even if I wasn’t the loudest or most talkative, I always did my work passionately, never afraid to live out my deepest convictions even if it went against the grain of my environment.
Then I became a mother.
And my voice……disappeared…..
Why? I’m not sure. I think it had something to do with the realization of the overwhelming responsibility with which I was suddenly faced. While I was aware of my thoughts and ideas, the only thing that really mattered was keeping this little creature alive.
But as the time began to pass, I began to feel something else. I felt silenced even within the community of motherhood. When I was pregnant, another mother welcomed me to the “sisterhood of motherhood” and said, “it’s toxic but necessary.”
Um, excuse me, what???
I ran from that conversation and in a way, I’ve run ever since. And discovered something. We as mothers share a huge common denominator. Not only are we keeping our little ones alive, we strive to help them grow into happy and moral human beings. Not an easy task and not one for the faint of heart. But after that….the differences begin to emerge far too quickly: “Working” vs. “stay at home”, “cry it out” vs “rocking to sleep”, “breast-feeding” vs “formula”, “pre-k” vs “homeschooling”, “typical” vs “special”, and even “mother” vs “not mother”, the list goes on and on.
These differences are often satirized on the internet as we all realize that the “Mommy Wars” need to end. But in real life, library, playgroups, playgrounds, I found myself growing quiet as I stopped talking about my mothering experiences. There really wasn’t a place to have a voice without offending someone who did things differently or being judged negatively by others. Raised eyebrows, derisive laughs, rolled eyes, I got tired of them, quickly. Ultimately, it seemed that if mothers admitted they were struggling or unhappy, they were judged, but…if mothers admitted they were actually happy, they were not only judged but considered thoughtless to those who were struggling (even as they were judged). This confusing and vicious cycle was something I wanted to opt out of, and fast.
But one cannot mother in a vacuum. And yes, I have very strong opinions of this thing called Motherhood and don’t even get me started on Modern Parenting in our Modern Society. Most of all, I feel that the mother-child bond is the most sacred thing on this earth, yet it is the one most overlooked, dismissed, and destroyed in how society constructs its’ values. So it’s time. To start finding a voice that is inclusive and healing while still raising questions about how and why we have allowed motherhood and childhood to look and feel the way it does in our culture.
Being invited to this blog and accepting this invitation is a huge step in my own journey as a mother. To begin speaking aloud thoughts that I have harbored for over 4 years. To find moments of humor, realness and compassion with other mothers and with women who are not mothers, for whatever reasons. I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to finally begin to put words the deepest visceral experience I have ever encountered. They may come slowly, awkwardly and somewhat incompletely, but just like the little person I am raising, every day brings a new chance to learn something new. To say something new. And to begin to interrupt the quiet.