I grew up in a pretty volatile home. There I said it. It most definitely could have been worse, and for that I am grateful daily, but there was this underlying sense of unease that followed me everywhere I went under that roof. I was never sure how the day would play out and while there were many wonderful memories, sad ones seem to be the ones that stick sometimes. [KEEP READING FOR THE ENTIRE ESSAY.]
My truest self is as tender-hearted as they come, even too much so, but with an uneasy upbringing came a slew of defense mechanisms. Namely, an angry cement coating over my heart that, at times, hurt just to beat. My husband and I had similar sad and sticking experiences, (unfortunately his are the kind I have the daily gratitude I did not encounter as mentioned previously.) We spent the first four years of our marriage cleaning house and taking inventory of all the dysfunctional things we didn’t want to bring into this new family we had created. Once we felt like we could start a new path, and be our own people outside of it all, we decided to try for a baby.
In the midst of morning sickness and stretch marks, fear started to creep in. What if I couldn’t really change? What if I would just be another perpetuated familial trademark to be passed down like a recipe or a quilt. With three weeks left of my pr
egnancy, I looked up an old therapist I had seen as a teenager. She had smiling eyes and a smooth as honey voice. She had this way about her that made me feel like I was so totally normal, so totally validated, and just the most wonderful human being that ever graced her lazy-boy recliner. I spilled my heart to her while gently rocking the over-stuffed chair, a box of Kleenex under my arm, my hands gesticulating wildly.
Once we got to the end of the session, she aske
d me how I was feeling about giving birth. Before I could even answer she gushed, “My very favorite part about having babies is when the doctor finally let me push! It is just the best feeling in the whole world, OH! I just cannot wait for you!” My tear-stained eyes got wide, I had heard a lot of things about childbirth, but this was a new one. With every Hollywood reenactment, every veteran mother’s account of their own birth-days, pushing actually feeling good was something I had never, ever heard.
Something in my whole body and soul clicked. And I believed her. I believed her and yet simultaneously, I still knew that pushing my son to this world was going to hurt like hell. They don’t call if “the ring of fire” for nothing, after all. But there sitting on that chair, I knew that no matter what pain I felt in this life, it was my choice to let it eat me up inside, to let it surround my organs and control my emotions. Or I could look at it in the face and say, yes this hurts, and I will be okay. Once I finally let go of this urgent need to reconcile pain and happiness, my heart was finally free. They can coexist, our history does not always dictate our future, it merely gives meaning to it. A little pain isn’t going to stop me from loving this beautiful life I’ve been given, and isn’t that the most important lesson to learn as mothers? Raising a child is just one hilarious game of Pain and Happiness ping-pong.
It’s funny because a mere seven hours later, my slippery and sweet baby boy was placed on my chest and solidified all I had learned that morning. He was waiting for me to figure it out, and once I did, it seemed he couldn’t wait another moment to let me have a look at him.
This post is in partnership with Bugaboo’s Cameleon 3. We each have had the pleasure testing out the Cameleon 3, it is an all terrain stroller system that truly goes wherever we go. We are proud to be the Utahan correspondents for this project and will be sharing our pivotal moments in motherhood alongside our Camelon 3 escapades days with accompanying photos by Cee Bee Photography.