This I Believe

molly - Annapolis, Maryland
Entered on November 28, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: parenthood

I believe a mother’s love for her child is the most complicating love ever imaginable. I believe that society complicates this love even more by setting up parameters that define how a mother is supposed to love.

My whole life I wanted to be a mother, until I became one. At what society always told me was supposed to be the happiest time in a woman’s life, I experienced fear, trepidation, pain, guilt, frustration, anger, resentment. I asked myself, would society approve of these feelings? Are good mothers supposed to feel this way?

When I learned I was pregnant I walked around in a daze. Be careful what you wish for, right? I was supposed to feel beautiful and joyful but I felt sick and scared. When I gave birth my recovery was so painful and difficult with complications that I had not a moment to enjoy my newborn son. Attached to a catheter, I carried a bag full of urine as I attempted to breastfeed my child because that is what good mothers were supposed to do. When my child kept me up at night I cried along with him because I didn’t know what else to do. I would have been happy to bury my head under my pillow and let someone care for him until I felt rested. A good mother would never do this so I resisted the urge. I remember calling a friend from the car on my way home from work crying that I wanted to run away, that I wanted my life back, that I couldn’t face going home to a crying baby, more diapers, and night time feedings. I hated myself for feeling this way. What was wrong with me? Why could I not enjoy this beautiful bundle of joy? What happened to a mother’s bond and intense love that everyone told me about? Rather I felt such intense guilt that my whole body was racked with pain and my gut ached. As good mothers do, I went home.

It has taken me almost four years to understand that these feelings are okay and despite them I am a good mother. Society cannot tell me otherwise. I love my son “to the moon and back” as quoted in one of his favorite bedtime books. My love for him is intensely complicated and never easy. I now set up my own parameters for defining love. I live by what I can do, not by what others tell me I should do. This I believe is what a good mother is supposed to do.