The Audacity of Motherhood

I’m 33 years old and I’ve become a mother for the first time on July 10, 2012.

I delivered my baby girl after a 39 week and 1 day pregnancy.

For the majority of those 39 weeks I like many other expectant mothers, was subjected to countless amounts of unsolicited advice. However well-intentioned, it became rather annoying, often leaving me with a feeling of being robbed of my experience/my journey into motherhood. I get that mothers want to share their lessons learned, but boundaries need to be set, as each pregnancy is as different as the women carrying these babies. The eagerness to give advice often takes away from the joy of learning about and experiencing the abundant, mysterious wonders in carrying a child. Further, uninvited advice can come across as condescending.  

Even now that my daughter is a whopping 15 days old (lol), the advice does not stop (not that I thought it would) and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sick of it all by now. I’m the type of person who will ask a question and solicit opinions if there is something I want to know, therefore someone telling me what to do without provocation is beyond absurd to me. “If you want to preach a sermon, go to church” has become my new motto.

If I want to go shopping prior to my 6 week check up, I will.

If I want to spend $1000 dollars on an outfit my daughter will only wear once, I will.

If I want my child’s first language to be Cantonese, it will.

If tomorrow I want to drive myself to get some ice cream, I will.

If I want to stop breast feeding my child, I will.

If I want to home school, I will.

If I don’t want you to hold my child, you won’t.

If I don’t want my child to play with your child, she won’t.

If I don’t want my child to play with dolls, she won’t.

If I don’t want my child to watch cartoons, she won’t.

If I want my child to listen to gangsta rap, she will.

If I decide my child is better off starting a business instead of going to college, she will.

If I allow my child to watch a reality television show, that is my prerogative.

If I want to be a yellow flower in a sea of red flowers, I will.

No matter what outlandish scenario I can think of, the point is that each person who becomes a parent has tough decisions to make as it relates to the rearing of their offspring and I happen to believe most parents do the best they can for their children. While their choices may differ from yours, that doesn’t make them wrong or their decision of lesser quality than yours. Outside of her father, whose opinion I value tremendously, I really don’t want to hear what anyone has to say about the choices I make as a mother for my child. This may sound crass, however if you think about it; who put YOU in charge of telling mothers what to do? Who died and made you queen mother, hunty?!?! Lol! I’m certain that if a roundtable discussion was had, the group could think of some ways in which you could be a better mother, so think about that before you offer your two cents on another woman’s situation.

Ultimately, I’ve decided I will have the audacity to make whatever decisions I deem necessary for me and my family and I won’t allow the input of others to cloud my better judgement or make me feel as if I have to be like other mothers out of fear of being labeled a “bad mother.”

If there is an area in which I need help, I will ask. Otherwise, don’t tell me anything. This is my journey and I ask that you respect that.

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It’s Been A Long Time….

I should nah left you without a dope blog to read to! 🙂

It has been forever since I’ve posted a blog, primarily because life has been such a whirlwind and I haven’t had much time to write. So this is basically a “catch all” post.

~I can’t remember off of the top of my head how far along in my pregnancy I was when I last posted, however today I am 37 weeks and will be 38 weeks tomorrow. Thank God, I am now considered full term and my baby is in the ideal position for her escape into the world, which means I can go into labor at any point now. Exciting and scary at the same time!!!

~We decided to change her name from Nola Grace to Nola Rose so that she would be named after her grandmother and great-grandmother, 2 phenomenal women who have had a great impact on our lives and the lives of many others. Our angel is destined for greatness!

Hmmm….I guess that’s it. Well, that’s all I want to include in this post. I have much more that I’ve experienced and learned over the past month, however I want to honor them with a post of their own.

Ok, I’ll admit it: all I can really think about right now is my baby and forgot what else I wanted to include in this blog! Ahahaaha!!!

 

Babies: The Great Hope.

It is amazing to me how many people are so happy about excited about my pregnancy. At first, I really only thought it was because they were happy for me to experience the joy of motherhood, however, this unborn child has sparked such intrigue that I began to look a little deeper and wonder why. Is it because I “finally” got pregnant? Is it because mothers know how much of a blessing children are and can’t wait for me to experience the same? Is is about the extension of a family’s legacy? 

 The more I thought about the conversations I’ve had with a variety of people, it dawned it me that babies often symbolize hope and new beginnings.  They elicit a wonderment that causes those around to speculate on what he or she will look like, the type of personality he or she will have, and what they will do with their life. Fortunately or unfortunately babies symbolize the unfulfilled dreams and spark an unstoppable drive to provide whatever it takes to nurture the best within that child, to ensure these dreams come to fruition this time around. A clean slate, a blank canvas on which the hopes and dreams for tomorrow can be sketched, carved, painted, created. For some, babies represent what could have been or what one longs for in life. The entering of a new baby into a family, even with the uniqueness that comes with each of God‘s creation, can be a reminder of a loved one no longer here. A way to receive a visit from a miniature version of what once was. A way to get back what was taken. 

Whatever the reasons may be, I feel fortunate that my unborn child has brought so much happiness and excitement to so many people. Ultimately, I feel blessed to be the vessel through which God can bring so much joy into the lives of those who are connected to me.

Planned

After announcing to my friends and family that I was pregnant, a few people asked me if I had planned it. This seemed to be one of the most absurd questions I’ve ever encountered, given I am not a married woman and given that I have always been vocal about wanting to be married prior to becoming a mom. It baffled me to the point to where I questioned who I have been in my life, as my question quite naturally was, “what about me says I would intentionally become a single mother?” In my mind, perhaps it would make more sense if I were much older, but given the fact that I haven’t succumbed to societal pressures to be married by a certain age; that should have been a clear indication that I don’t care what people say about what I “should” be doing in my life. 

 

Let’s be clear, I have been proposed to more than once in my life, 3 times to be exact, and twice by the same person (the first time I said “no” and the second time I said “hell no” because he obviously didn’t hear me the first time he asked. we broke up shortly thereafter). This is a fact I don’t think I have shared with anyone, because when asked, I knew they weren’t my husband, so there really was no need to involve my friends or family in something that would never be because that would undoubtedly lead to annoying questions and unnecessary pressure stemming from their projections. 

 

In theory, if I was concerned about what people thought about my marital status, I had 3 opportunities in my 20’s to do something about it. Thankfully, I was secure enough in myself to not give in, just to have the pleasure of saying I could change my last name, have the big wedding and reception, only to pacify the public, while denying my true desires, wants, and needs. Had I gotten married at those times, my priorities would have changed and I probably would not have gone back to school for my Masters degree until much later, if at all.

Many also know that I spent a bulk of my 20’s taking care of family members, which meant I often traveled to my hometown several times throughout each month, before I eventually resigned from my position and moved there when the travelling became too physically and emotionally draining. Had I been married, I’m certain that scenario would have played out differently, as I wouldn’t have been able to up and leave my husband and who knows; I could have also had kids by that point, which would have made traveling to Florence much more difficult. Not impossible, but difficult. I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with my dad before he passed away. I learned so much in those last months and many questions from my childhood finally received answers. That experience was the type of self healing that can only occur when you are able to put self first. I also got to fulfill some promises I made to my grandmother before she passed away.

Again, if I had a husband or children, there is no way I could have accomplished what I was able to do for them. Only a single person with no major responsibilities outside of the typical bills could get done what I got done. The conversations I was able to have with my grandparents before my grandmother left shed light on so many things and also gave me answers I needed in moving forward. Even when things went berserk after my grandmother passed away, I had peace because I knew. I have peace, because I know. 

 

My 20’s were spent concentrating on myself, my education, my career, and my family of origin. Keeping that focus allowed me to not have any regrets. I never thought time was running out on the marriage and kids front, because 30 isn’t old in my opinion. I still had more I wanted to accomplish in my career. I eventually went back to school to increase the knowledge I believed I needed to enhance that career, and in my mind 2012 was my year to make the career moves I was unable to make because I spent so much time making sure I wasn’t more than a quick drive away from home. This was my time to open that business, so to get knocked up in 2011 was far from any plan I had for my life. At the time, I was in a great relationship with a man unlike any other I’ve dated and I was content with seeing where that would grow. However, missing my period wasn’t planned. 

 

Every fear I’ve ever had was actualized in the moment when the results of that pregnancy test came back. My mom reared us without a husband, so I knew first hand the difficult road I had ahead of me. Disappointment in myself also set in, as I couldn’t logically think of how in the world I could have gotten pregnant after never having so much as a pregnancy scare in my 32 years of life. I had prided myself on being able to live the dream of graduating from high school, going to college and graduating, going back to college and graduating, and finding myself working in a career with young girls who saw me as an example they should follow.

That gave me joy and much pride, as I was able to show them that you did not have to give in to pressure and it is okay to wait to have sex (there were several years of celibacy during this time period). All of my years of work, all of those group sessions, all of those individual conversations seemed to drip down my face with each tear that flowed. I thought I had let down everyone, including myself and God. Being the book smart person I am, I knew I could continue to work with young ladies and have my testimony serve as a “look at what can happen to you” story, however, I did not want to be the stereotypical single mother who now works as a mentor showing young ladies there is a better way than the path she took. I preferred being the “this is how you can live your life and still be content and happy” mentor where my life and my choices were the choices to make. Why would someone like me choose to eat so many words shared over the years?

 

After disappointment came denial. There was no freaking way I was pregnant. No way whatsoever. I ignored it and carried on with my life as if I never received the results of both home pregnancy tests. I convinced myself that the sickness I was feeling was from that stupid job that I hated. They made me sick daily. And since I never vomited like most pregnant women do, then that means I wasn’t pregnant in my mind. The queasiness I felt with certain smells were because I was weening myself off of fatty foods and apparently I was doing great on my diet because the smell of this garbage turned my stomach. Yay fruits and veggies! 

 

After denial, rationalization. In my “book smart” mind, I knew statistically most first pregnancies ended in miscarriage, so I chose to wait out the month of December. I received no medical care because I just knew I would miscarry. Everyday, several times a day, I went to the restroom and looked for blood in the toilet. Abortion was never an option, but in my mind if I had a miscarriage, that would have been God’s natural way of warning me “this too could happen to you” and I would have learned my lesson. Nearing the end of December, the blood never came, and I knew I had to tell my mom. At this point only the dad and one other friend knew that I “thought” I was pregnant. But somehow, I knew I had to tell my mom. Well, I did and she didn’t believe me which pissed me off, so again I went back into denial. After the first of the year, my relationship is more rocky and while I’m no genius in math; I knew the last time I had my period was in October which meant by this point, I was a couple months pregnant. I made the decision to get over myself and make a doctor’s appointment. 

 

I got a big surprise when at the doctor’s office they told me I was pregnant. *Insert sarcasm* What was shocking to me was that I was already out of my first trimester. Those fools told me I was 14 weeks pregnant! I looked at the nurse and said, “I’m in my second trimester.” In a “duh” kind of tone she said, “Yes.” She then slapped that cold gel on my belly and for the first time I heard my baby’s heartbeat. I didn’t say a word, but tears flowed endlessly down my cheeks. I don’t know if they were happy tears or sad tears, but it felt real in that moment. My denial and rationalization turned to guilt. I began to hope I hadn’t done anything to hurt my baby. I couldn’t stop crying because in that very moment I wanted nothing but happiness for this child. I finally accepted the fact that I was indeed pregnant. 

 

I began to tell others. Many of the reactions were disbelief and I understood why. I went through it myself. But I still couldn’t and can’t fathom why anyone who truly knows me would think I would plan something like this. I know we live in a day and time where self-proclaimed “independent women” willingly becoming single mothers and profess to want to do it on their own, but I am a clinically-trained therapist who understands the psycho-social reasons behind why it’s best that children have 2 parents. As a woman who has accepted Christ as her savior years ago, I know what God thinks of pre-martial sex, marriage as a covenant, and parenting as a ministry. As a child from a single-parent household, I know life as a single parent won’t be all cheese omelets and walks on the beach. 

 

This journey has also taught me not to beat myself up too much because as much as we plan out our lives, sometimes a bigger plan comes in and trumps it all. A part of me accepting I was pregnant was because I realized many women were trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully. I also realized that women were getting pregnant but not able to carry full term. I began noticing articles where women were blessed with children only to abuse them in some of the most unimaginable ways. Seeing and experiencing these things led to me asking God to forgive me for ever wishing ill of my pregnancy, as there obviously was a reason He kept me and this baby. He chose me to be a mother at this point in my life for some reasons that have already unfolded and others I’m sure will continue to unfold. And while I know God is not pleased with my actions, I thank Him for his grace and mercy. I thank Him for forgiveness. I thank Him for keeping His promises to me despite my shortcomings to Him. From disappointment to denial to rationalization to incredibly humbled is where I now stand.

 

 

As I sit here today at 31 weeks and 2 days pregnant with a little girl I have yet to meet and am already completely and totally in love with; I have reached the point where I again say I am not concerned with what others think. I will continue to work towards my goals, perhaps more diligently now than ever now that I have another reason not to fail. I will continue to let people know God is good even when we are not. I will let my child know she is not a mistake and she is here for a reason. Every life God creates has a purpose~each and every one. I will teach her to be who God created her to be and not fall prey to what others think she should be or do in her life. She will be taught to make plans for her life, but to ultimately submit to the plan of the One who gave her life, as ultimately that’s the only plan that will manifest anyway.