I’ve been a mom for 2.5-years. But motherhood really starts the moment you learn you’re expecting. And by motherhood, I mean worrying about literally everything. So I started my full-time job of being perpetually anxious in early 2014.
I have mom friends that breastfeed and formula feed; vaccinate and don’t; moms that believe in “crying it out” and moms that crowd their family of four into a King size bed every single night. No two moms are alike, but we all have one thing in common: we’re all freaking the F out.
We talk a lot about how hard this job is: sleepless nights and public temper tantrums. Raising children is not for the faint of heart, we’ve established that. But the weight of motherhood is more than a pile of laundry and messy house.
What makes motherhood heavy is the anxiety.
The fear that arrives on your doorstep in a nice little package the second you learn your family is growing. And the more I grow in this role, and the more moms I meet, the more I realize it’s that fear that can overshadow our happiest days.
“It’ll work out. It always does.”
I’ve heard these words a hundred times. I’ve said them to myself in my darkest moments. And they’ve always been true. Until they weren’t.
When Kingsley was 4-months-old we learned about something that makes her extra special. Kingsley was born with a congenital disorder, which primarily affects the development of bones. Now that we’ve had time to digest, when I think back to the day we learned this news, it all feels overly dramatic. We had taken her for a full skeletal exam early that morning and were awaiting our doctor’s call. She called while I was driving around town with both girls and simply asked that I pull over. My heart broke. And it took me weeks to put the pieces back together.
Leading up to that phone call I had been replaying the soundtrack, “It’ll work out. It always does.” And then for the first time in my life, it didn’t work out. Not how I wanted it to at least. And I felt more vulnerable than ever.
Weeks later, when I finally opened up about how I was feeling, I admitted that I was terrified. Terrified that our “it always works out” bubble had burst.
I want to pause and talk about Kingsley. She’s perfectly fine. I’m 5’6″, she’ll most likely be 5’2″. She has underdeveloped clavicles and pelvic bones – but not enough to slow her down. She’ll spend more time at the dentist than the average child, but her smile is worth it. She’s smart as a whip and absolutely beautiful.
This is the first and will most likely be the last time I talk about this publicly. Not because I’m in denial of anything being “different” – within six hours of that phone call we had appointments with a geneticist and neurosurgeon. I’ve pushed her harder to sit on her own and peppered her pediatrician with millions of questions at each check-up.
But because this doesn’t define her.
(And so, if you choose to comment on this post – I promise you there is no need to comfort me or say, “she’ll be OK.” Because this girl is more than OK. She is perfection wrapped up in a tiny package.)
But it’s been a defining event in my life and shaped my journey as a mom.
This past week I had conversations with three moms that ended with teary eyes. They shared their fears with me, the special doctor appointments their little ones were attending and the things that keep them up at night. And I realized, the fear and anxiety that comes with being helpless is the hardest part of motherhood. And if three of the five moms I interacted with last week opened up to me about it – than I’d be willing to bet five of the five moms feel it deep inside.
It’s easy to seek help on sleep training or introducing solids to a finicky eater. We laugh off potty accidents and playdates that look like boxing matches (because, sharing).
It’s hard to talk about the things that actually make this job hard.
And it’s really hard to talk to a mom that’s struggling with fear of the unknown – whether it’s a medical challenge or behavioral one. Unless you have a PhD after your name and are delivering a clean bill of health, your efforts may feel futile.
To all the moms out there. I see you. I hear you. And know if your bubble ever bursts, you aren’t alone.
To all of those who have a mom in their life they love – whether it’s your own, your friend struggling through the first few years of the job or a stranger in the grocery store having a melt down. When they’re crying over spilled milk, hand them a rag and then throw them a bone. They’re doing the best they can – which sometimes means, hanging on by a thread.
Memories captured by Brooke Whitney Photography.