Monday, March 2, 2015

The Kids That Built Me #MindfulMotheringMondays

There's a unique kind of unfurling that happens when your own childhood seamlessly melds into that of your own children. I've been thinking over the years and the babies and looking at how welcoming each and every one of these kids has stretched and grown me in ways nothing else possibly could.

I became a mom after the most selfish time in my life - and most people's lives - my 18th year. In those early years that followed, life was something of a tug of war. My selfish nature and desires in direct opposition with what motherhood requires: service. The struggle was stressful and hard as I fought to hold onto "me" while juggling the demands and needs of our rapidly growing brood.

A shift happens slowly, when life and parenting becomes less about how you experience it - and more about the people you are pouring all of your efforts into. Gradually I found that laying down my arms opened me up to receiving more than I could have ever forced. I found with surprise that I could peacefully coexist as "me" while also being what they needed.

I think about it at a midwife appointment on Friday, and how the term "my birth experience" rubs me the wrong way. I get it, because I've been there. Insistent that things go my way because it was mine. MY experience. MY birth. My story. Wasn't it? These days I find myself friends with compromise - something my unrelentingly judgmental 20 year old self would have scoffed at for being weak. But I know better now.

Time and love and people change you. Each one of these people in my home have changed how I view the world, other mothers, myself, and them. I become gentler each time. Softer. More forgiving. Less demanding. I think this all can be encompassed in just this: I grew up. Maybe other people get there more quickly, or have already arrived by the time they welcome their first little one. For me, I grew alongside them, day by day, year by year.

Each year, each child added, each season poses a new challenge to me - one I can fight against with all my feeble might, or one I can step up to, embrace, grasp with intention and purpose. When I choose the latter, it's not giving in. It's stepping up. Expanding my vision. Shouldering my past experiences and willingly looking forward to a new future.

My kids taught me that, by requiring it of me. My kids drew me out in ways nothing else could. My kids helped shape me in the 12 years since that stubborn 18 year old received the news her life would change and set her teeth that it wouldn't.

I declared I'd let nothing change me.

I'm so glad I was wrong.

{It's been a while since I've done Mindful Mothering Mondays, but I'm hoping to get back into it. Want to join? Add your link in the comments!}

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