Mother's Day 2020
On Mother's Day 2016 we arrived in Michigan in the wee hours of the morning after two full days of driving from Austin, Texas. Mother's Day 2016 is when my journey as a stay at home mom began. And boy was it a tumultuous journey.
We had hoped to conceive again once we arrived in Michigan. We tried for seven months. I went 90 days without having a period. I went 60 of those 90 days thinking I must be pregnant and taking test after test that came back negative. How could it be? I look back on the marks on my Fertility Friend app. All the black negatives. And I just want to comfort my hurt and confused self. I remember how desperate I was, how I just did not understand. I remember how scared I became. I started dealing with crippling anxiety and insomnia months after we arrived. I did not understand what was happening and was desperate for help. I found a counselor and started going to therapy regularly. I see the same therapist regularly four years later. I went to the doctor and resumed taking the medication I was on for Post Partum Depression (PPD) for six months after Bina was born. Slowly I came out of the fog, my confidence diminished.
We decided to begin pursuing domestic infant adoption thinking maybe that was the path for us at the time. It took nine months to reach approval. We waited on the waiting families list for seven months. The entire time I wrestled. Why did it take so long to obtain approval? Why were we not being chosen to parent? Was there something wrong with us? I felt God tell me over and over: surrender to the process. I did so much wrestling. So much trying to let go of my plans and my timing. I tried to come to terms with the reality that maybe we would be a one child family.
Our 10th anniversary came around and we decided to give conception one more shot. And I do not understand why it worked that time, but it did. All those negative tests I had taken before. All that heartache. Suddenly I had my positive test and my body began growing our Juniper. I cautiously hoped for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). I hired a doula to support me during labor. I hired a birth photographer. I got my VBAC. It was intense. The recovery was worse than my c-section because of third degree tearing, but mentally and emotionally I felt amazing. I enjoyed being a mom of two even more than being a mom of one. I felt like a rockstar. That is, until Juniper started teething and stopped sleeping at six months and then I started a four and a half month battle with persistent and painful plugged milk ducts. But hey. She is now 15 months and we are still here and she is still teething but we figured out the sleeping and the milk ducts.
A cascade of events happened in December 2019 that led to my husband resigning from my family's business. We moved up here so I could be home with Sabina, and to be near family. The family who owned the business. I knew that decision to move to Michigan required sacrifices just like staying in Austin would have required sacrifices. We decided we were more comfortable making the sacrifices it would take to allow me to be home with Bina. But I honestly had no idea how far those would reach until this past year.
I wonder now if my body knew what was happening before I did. I thought all the anxiety and insomnia was about motherhood. But maybe it was that motherhood brought me face to face with my own childhood trauma and family of origin dysfunction in a way nothing else had before. I started noticing patterns, in myself and in my family of origin. I wrestled trying to understand. Justifying. Making excuses. Saying apologies to those who had never and could never extend an apology to me. The toxicity spread as I tried to make sense of it all and as I tried to figure out who I was as a mother. I knew what I wanted to do things differently. And I was continually confronted with pushback on that different because those who had perpetuated dysfunction viewed my different as a threat. And it was. It is. I naively thought we could just agree to disagree and I could mother the way I chose to. I pressed in and had conversations to address areas of conflict. Walked away feeling like I had been heard and we were on the same page, only to see the same dysfunction immediately resume again. But it was not just me on the receiving end anymore. It was my little family. My husband, my daughter. Those I was fiercely committed to protecting from dysfunction. And yet I found myself making concessions to appease, allowing dysfunction rather than standing up because standing up was terrifying. When the last straw broke in December 2019, I finally stood strong and said: I see what you are doing. And I and my family are all done. No more. No. More. We are charting a new path.
Today, May 10, 2020, we celebrate Mother's Day and the four year anniversary of our arrival in Michigan, which was the beginning of my role as a stay at home mom. The beginning of the unveiling of a lifetime of dysfunction in my family of origin that goes back generations. The unraveling of the image I had of the family we returned to Michigan to be near to. Four years of wrestling and letting go, wrestling and letting go. The process of surrender. One step at a time getting closer and closer to understanding, truly seeing in a way I had not been able to before. Family of origin dysfunction and trauma has shaped me. Motherhood has broken me more than anything. A breaking that allowed light in to illuminate the path to healing and restoration. A breaking that showed me the truth about myself and my family of origin. Some parts darker than I could comprehend, and some parts brighter than I ever realized. I celebrate the healing of my relationship with my mom in a way that was not completely possible before. I celebrate myself, that I am an honest truth seeker, passionate and resilient. I celebrate my growing capacity for self compassion, realizing that as I learn and grow I am gathering data, evolving and adapting to new situations and information. As I do so, I am able to answer "yes" to Brene Brown's question, "are you the adult you want your children to grow up to be?"
I want my children to know it is okay to wrestle. To struggle. It is okay to gather data, learn something does not work, and to try something else. There are no "mistakes" that we cannot learn and grow from. We will have relational rupture and repair. There is no rupture that is too big for repair. It is the quality of the repair that matters, not the extent of the rupture. I want my children to know my love is unconditional. I will not withhold my love to force my children into compliance. I will not use fear to demand my way. I will not manipulate with money or material things. And if I do, I will admit to my wrong and apologize, and in doing so I will model that it is okay for them to do wrong and apologize too. And in all this I will point them to our Heavenly Father. The only one who loves perfectly. I will not do this perfectly myself. I will continually mess up because I am human. But God? He does this all perfectly and holds space for all of our mess.
So here is to four years of life as a stay at home mom in Michigan. Learning and growing. Loving and leading. This fifth year is going to be a crazy one, I think. And I am here for it. Bring it on.