It began on the basement floor, curled in a ball, thoughts swirling through tears and deep breaths. My husband sat next to me while my 2 year old daughter and 9 month old son played nearby. It was one of those moments in life where before and after pivot. There was another moment like that about 9 months later. In between those moments was a dark period. The details aren’t very clear in my memory now, 11 years later. Partly because I carried on in my role as mother to my two little ones–early mornings, diapers, feeding, bathing–the duties that cause the days and weeks to blend together when looking back. But it was all done in a fog of depression.
I have always wanted to be a mother. I’ve heard stories my whole life of the nurturing child I was, the oldest of four children. It took a while to conceive our first child, causing me to explore in my mind what motherhood really meant for me. I made peace with the idea that having my own child may not happen, but abandoning my dream of being a mother never was a consideration. This was a role I was destined to embody. And when we welcomed our first daughter, I came in to myself in a profound way. It was all so very natural and we began to dream of how our family would grow, hoping to add two more children to our circle. We began to envision our life years in to the future. I had a plan. In the back of my journal I wrote the range of dates in which we should get pregnant in order to ensure our children were two years apart in school. This, I thought, was the perfect spacing for me to give each child plenty of individual attention throughout the different phases of their lives. This was one of the tenets I held dear–each of my children feeling loved, listened to, understood, and absolutely uniquely special by their Mom.
My motherhood dream was being crushed as I lay in that ball on the basement floor. Upon just learning that we would be expecting our third baby only 36 months after we became parents for the first time, I was mourning the loss of my motherhood dream. How could I possibly fulfill the image I’d created of the mother I wanted to be with them so close in age? Having my first two only 18 months apart, although it fit in the schedule outlined in my journal, was proving to be challenging enough. And I was opening up to the deep knowledge that my son was going to need a little bit more. I had actually even considered the possibility that these two precious children might be enough for our family to be complete. Or at least for now. Maybe baby number three could be postponed a few years. But that was not part of my divine plan.
Fear consumed me. Fear that I would in some way fail at this motherhood thing, this thing I was so assured I was meant to do from a young age. To look at the enormity of this was overwhelming to me. I carried on raising my two young children as the third grew inside me despite my despair. Tears–I remember a lot of tears over those months.
It just goes to show you how little we know of our divine plan. The closing hinge of that dark window was the moment my daughter came in to the world. Just over 17 months after my son was born I was a mother of three…and all was well. Her spirit lifted me out of that scary place and a peace washed over and through me. I somehow knew that everything was going to be alright. I had to abandon my plan and the image I had created. I just needed to follow my instincts and do the very best I could for these three little people.
As I reflect on this now, my children 13, 11-1/2, and 10, that fear still feels quite real. I don’t associate with it anymore, but it left me with a rawness and a vulnerability that I think I will always carry. It feels amazing to sit in my skin and to know that I am a good mother. These kids were divinely placed in my care, each of them, in precisely the right time. I am not perfect, but I embrace this teaching in my mothering–none of us are perfect. You can plan and visualize and dream, but this human experience is full of unexpected detours, and we are full of flaws. But divinity is alive in each of us, and we connect with it through overcoming our fears, living through the dark periods, and staying connected to the essence of who we are–the unwavering desires that live deep in our core.
There is nothing in my life that will ever fulfill me the way mothering these children does. My faith was built in that time of surrender and I draw on that as I navigate the detours that I encounter on my journey, not only as a mother, but as a human. Never could I have imagined the beauty of this divine plan. I am abundantly grateful.