I will never forget the day I chose to stop speaking to my mother. I was sitting in a booth at Sonny’s BBQ across from my husband when my phone dinged. I exhaled slowly and passed the phone over for him to read. I thought I needed time to figure things out, but the text message was enough for me to realize my relationship with my mother just wasn’t working anymore. I realized I needed to stop putting off the one thing that was keeping me from moving forward with my life. I had spent so many years letting myself get hurt over and over again, until I finally realized it was time to stand up for myself.
Now I see the posts at least once a week. “I wouldn’t be the mother I am today if it weren’t for my amazing mom.” It’s such a wonderful sentiment and testament to some of the amazing mothers in the world—I just can’t relate to it.
I’ve wanted to be a mama for as long as I can remember, and even when I became an adult and began to understand who my mother really was, it never deterred me from that desire. But when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, the questions started coming up, burning holes in my mind. How would I be a good mother when I don’t even know what that looks like? Will my daughter question my love for her the way I questioned my own mother’s love for me? And the inevitable, what if I become just like my mom?
Deep in my heart, I knew the answers to these questions. I didn’t need to have a great mother in order to become one. Before I ever felt the first flutters of my daughter moving and kicking inside of me, I knew to be a great mother meant loving my child and putting her needs before my own. I knew my husband and I needed to a be a team, and even though our roles were different, they were equally important, and our daughter would grow and thrive under the support and love my husband and I both gave her. Deep in my heart, I knew I was nothing like my mother and I never would be.
I couldn’t always keep the fears and the questions at bay, but every time I saw my daughter’s sweet face smiling at me, her bright blue eyes shining underneath a mess of curls, I knew being a great mother was something rooted deep within me. Every time I made a decision to put her desires before mine, I knew I was building a foundation of love and trust between us. Every time she ran to me for comfort, I knew I was doing my job well.
I may not have had someone to teach me how to be a great mother, but that’s OK. We are changed by our experiences, but it doesn’t mean we have to be held captive by them. I didn’t need anyone to teach me how to be a mother and I’m starting to realize the ability to be a great mother was within me all along.
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