The Sling Diaries, Volume VII. A photo-documentary chronicling the art of baby wearing in the lives of families around the world. Over the course of six months, Sling Diarists will create their own Sling Diary though a series of diary entries interpreting a unique theme given to them each month.
Meet all of our Sling Diarists here.
“I will look after you…I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.”
Motherhood. I have dreamed of you, hoped for you, anticipated you for longer than I can remember. I thought that becoming a mother would define me in a way that I had been unable to find in anything else. And it did, but not in the way that I expected.
When I found out I was pregnant, I had all these ideas that I would feel so connected to this sweet little bean that I was growing inside of me, that I would be this super intuitive earth mother that would know my baby before I actually met him. I mean, how could I feel anything but the pure magical bond of mother and child as I was growing little hands and feet inside of me.
Except, I hated being pregnant.
I hold on to a lot of guilt for feeling this way. I didn't feel particularly connected to either of boys while pregnant. I was sick; really, really sick for the majority of both my pregnancies. Between the nonstop nausea and vomiting, spending the last 2 months of my first pregnancy with bronchitis and spending my entire 2nd pregnancy with symphysis pubis dysfunction while (unsuccessfully) running after a toddler, it is safe to say that all my “earth mother life grower” hopes never came to fruition.
During my first pregnancy, I desperately hoped for an un-medicated birth. I did daily meditations and mindfulness exercises, read up on birthing techniques, took classes, talked about my birth plan. But a diagnosis of preeclampsia at 39 weeks meant I had more medical interventions than I had ever considered in order to make sure I was safe and that my baby was safe.
These early stages of motherhood, these unexpected outcomes and experiences, these are what started to shift my perspective of who I am. Looking back on these experiences, though I wasn't able to have the un-medicated birth I had hoped for, I choose to see my strength through 42 hours of labor and 5 ½ hours of pushing in order to meet my Jamo. Though I struggled through both of my pregnancies, I am glad that I can find the humor in only being able to squat/waddle for 39ish weeks before I met my sweet Sam.
I discovered that by framing my memories in a positive way, I was giving myself permission to see my experience of motherhood as positive, as a space for growth, even though it may not have fit the mold that I previously thought it should.
I’ve now been a mother for almost 3 years. It is my greatest accomplishment. There is nothing more rewarding than the simplest moments with my boys – a small snuggle into my neck or a sly, quick smile before running off to make another mess. I have definitely had times when I have felt lost in motherhood, and in those moments, I have tried to delve deeper inside to see where the root of that lost feeling resides. Oftentimes, it is caught up in the negative chatter that I hold on to about who I should be as a mama – that I should want to only be with my boys, that it is selfish to be at work or to spend time finishing graduate school or to want to spend time away from them. It’s in these guilt ridden moments that I try to remember that who I am is more than being a mother, and in order for me to be a great mama, I need to fill the other parts of my life. It is because of my sons that I create space for myself to grow as an individual. Watching them develop their personalities has helped me to see how I also need to foster a place for myself to continue to grow. Seeing how they grow in the times that they are away from me has helped to show me that I may need those moments as well.
So, to my sweet, bright-eyed wild boys, thank you. You have guided me towards a place that I have waited for and dreamed about for most of my life – you continue to provide space for me to grow and discover new parts of myself. Because of the two of you, I push myself to explore who I am outside of being your mama, because I know that it is important to know this part of myself in order to keep my cup full so that I can be there for you guys in whatever way you may need. You motivate me. You inspire me.
I hope that no matter what this world puts before you, that you continue to choose see the beauty in your surroundings. I hope that you continue to have the same stubborn strength that you exhibit today and that you laugh without abandon, even though things are going to seem really tough at times. I hope that as you grow and discover who you are and who you want to be, that you celebrate the unique parts that make you special. I love you, my sweet boys.