On Mothering, Before Our First Mother’s Day

May 9, 2017

Dearest Isadora,

Today you fell off the bed. For the record, it was your father watching you, but also for the record, it could have just as easily been me. See, you learned to tumble what seems like overnight. Just a few days ago, you rolled slightly to the left, and several minutes later, to the right. A few days ago, it would have taken you forever to roll from the middle of the bed to the edge. This morning, it took only a second. You are a quick learner.

You are just under six months old and we are approaching the first Mother’s Day that I am a mother. What a (nearly) six months it’s been!

So many people have asked me what new motherhood is like. I often don’t know if it’s a polite question or one looking for an honest answer. Each time I respond, something different comes out. A wild ride. Intense. Exhausting but wonderful. Not what I expected. Harder than I expected. Getting better. I feel sadness reflecting on this list of descriptions because none of them are purely positive.

Today, the answer is motherhood has been an unraveling for me. I’ve heard the phrase that love can undo you. I have never felt as undone as I have in these early months of being your mother.

And today you fell off the bed. After blaming your father, I immediately blamed myself. Why did I leave you on the bed? Why did I entice you with that toy? You must have been reaching for it and that’s what made you fall.

Your father called the doctor and I left for work. I knew deep down that you’d be okay because you smiled within moments of me holding you. The doctor confirmed what I knew.

When I texted your Mimi, my mother, about the incident, her response was that all three of us, meaning myself and your aunts, fell off the sofa or the bed, too. It happens, she said. None of us were hurt. She was glad you weren’t hurt. It happens.

It happens.

As soon as you met your Mimi, you loved her. You were in the hospital and Mimi rocked you into sweet, sound sleep all night long.

You will learn soon that your Mimi and I are very different people. One part of motherhood I didn’t expect was the surge of memories of my childhood. I have sweet memories of comfort and joy, and many memories of events that I wish had gone differently, words I wish were never said.

In my meditation class yesterday, I learned about the Hindu philosophy Sattva. It is a type of satisfaction, an acceptance of what-is. It is Serenity. Wholeness.

Today, as I strive to make sense of your first fall, as I strive – again – to be as perfect a mother as possible, I realize for the first time that this striving is an act of rebellion against my own mother. In rejecting her, I am rejecting who I have become with her guidance. With this painful perfectionism, I am rejecting myself as a mother.

What if I were to accept what-is?

I see your Wholeness, Isadora. I felt it before I saw you, and now that we’ve met, I see it more clearly every day. I saw it before the fall and immediately afterwards. You resonate. You – and your father – are two of the most special beings on the planet.

This Mother’s Day, I honor my wholeness. I honor my wholeness as the first baby my mother held as her own. I honor my wholeness as a child with many dreams. I honor my wholeness as a person, as a woman, and as your mother. This is a special day. Thank you for being here to help me celebrate.

With love,
Your mother

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8 responses to “On Mothering, Before Our First Mother’s Day”

  1. Oh Shannon, thank you for sharing this gift with the world. Happy Mother’s Day, mi amor. May the next years be filled with your writing and loving. Hugs to you and Izzy and Abe

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