Honest Motherhood is a series of submissions by Mothers. These are the raw, personal, and brave truths of Motherhood and what it is to many, different women. Today’s post is from Courtney on the transformation she underwent during her transition into motherhood. Motherhood is the death of oneself and the birth of another and something you won’t come back from.
I promised I wouldn’t change. I promised I would be the same person, that I wouldn’t become the woman who talked about her child constantly, the woman who wouldn’t long to be home holding my baby after being out for only an hour, the woman who became nothing but a mother. Most of all, I promised I wouldn’t become that woman who told her childless friends that they just couldn’t understand because they aren’t a mom. I hated those women, I couldn’t stand how they seemed to look at my life like it wasn’t as serious as theirs, that as much as I could be sympathetic and understanding, I just didn’t get it.
I didn’t get it.
I didn’t understand that when I became a mother, I would also be putting to rest a part of myself. I knew I would change, I knew that my life was changing in the most dramatic and intense way, I suppose I failed to understand the magnitude of that change. A part of me died when such a larger part of me came alive to bloom. I don’t know if it’s the same for other women, I just know what happened to me. I hate the pretentiousness I feel when I look at my friends who don’t have children and think, “they just don’t get it.” But they don’t, I didn’t and I think that’s the hardest part. That I despised the women like me, those mothers who looked at each other with knowing, with a secret language that only mothers know. Giving birth is like receiving the Rosetta Stone to this secret language. All of these parts in your brain that you never knew existed come alive and ignite and you realize how much you didn’t know before that moment.
Shortly after Kitty was born I took her with me to the co-op to pick up some groceries. I was wandering among the produce when a woman approached me. She looked at Kitty sleeping in her wrap and said the usual things that women say about new babies and then she looked at me and said something I will never forget, “I can still see it on you, you’ve been there, you’ve been to the other side haven’t you?” It struck me, I had never thought of it before, but in those hours before Kitty was born, it was other worldly. I went to another place, a place where I went deep into something ancient and timeless and when I exited, I was forever changed.
I have heard of Native Americans going on vision quests or crying for dreams. They are pushed to physical limits, often fasting, they come to a deep understanding of themselves to show their purpose in life, it is a right of passage leaving your life as a child and beginning a new life as an adult. It is a birth in itself. It is also a death.
And so I changed, more than I expected, more than I maybe wanted to. Part of me died when I was on the other side, I wasn’t prepared for that, I don’t think it’s something I considered. I knew I would have a son or a daughter, I knew I would be a mother, but I didn’t think about the person I would be leaving behind. There is no official title for a childless woman.
I left her there on the other side. I came back from my quest, with my daughter, my dream.