An Ode To Young Mothers.
“One more burden to society…”
“She’s already got one illegitimate child…”
As I held my 20-month-old’s hand, very pregnant with my second child, a man walking across the street stopped me and said, “Congratulations!” I took a step back and cocked my head, “What?” He smiled a meaningful message, and again said,“Congratulations!” and smiled his way off.
I will never forget it. It was the only Congratulations, the only validation, I got in 18 months of pregnancy that my children, and my life, weren’t doomed to be a total fuck-up. I am still grateful for that man’s refrain. It was 10 years ago and I still remember how hot it was as I shuffled across the parking lot contemplating his gesture.
No one said anything at all about my pregnancies unless it was abortion-talk or some sort of unconscious seed-planting of self-doubt and What are you going to do? How could I let this happen? Twice at that!
I was 20 at the time.
Maternity clothes were gross. I hid behind their stupid blue and black strips. I manifested illness after illness, and I kept very quiet about anything at all that had to do with being a mother. I felt an intense need to protect my children from a world that shamed us for their existence.
I engaged with my head-swirling intellect and planted my roots in raising my children as to not ruffle too many societal feathers.
It was well understood that any excitement for new motherhood or to meet the newest face in my life was a naive response to such a serious situation. Though it was never spoken, it was clearly and quietly understood.
I went to a baby shower yesterday. She is 20 and unmarried. Advice Cards sat out on the table that each guest was to fill out in hopes of benefiting her as a mother.
“My best advice for you is…” I wrote, “not to take advice from anyone. Trust yourself. You know your answers. Motherhood, it’ll save your life, your soul, if you let it.”
I walked out of the door today in a super short silk dress and hooker boots. In the grocery store, people walked in the opposite direction. In Babies ‘r’ Us, other pregnant mothers stared at me like I was an uncaged wild animal. One person remarked how beautiful I looked. I’m due with my third child any day, and this time I’m not hiding.
I feel like a fairy in this dress and I’m no longer interested in deadening my feelings of freedom for the benefit of someone else’s unconscious entrapment!
My first illegitimate child, who is almost 12, went for a hike with me and captured a snapshot of who I’ve always been. I felt compelled to write about what it was like to see me in all my glory.
I wish I’d felt confident enough then to disregard other people’s doubts. Now I know that their doubts are more their burden to bear, not mine. I never asked those people for a damn thing and they sure as hell never gave me anything.
I wish I’d loved my body instead of simultaneously rejecting and protecting the very life that was growing within it. I kept my babies healthy and made myself sick because God forbid, anything could be allowed to be easy when it was clearly a big mistake. I know now that children of young moms become adults of the world, and that they deserve every bit as much love as any other child coming into the planet.
I wish I’d flaunted my pregnant body because each day of creating life is a blessed miracle and I definitely wish I wouldn’t have worn those stupid maternity clothes that weren’t me, just to make people around me more comfortable by covering up my mistakes.
I wish I’d been told that I may never, ever experience these moments again. To honor them, to share them, to be proud of them, is the only option because in an instant, it could all fall through my fingertips.
I wish I’d known then, that others will offer doubt, bullshit advice, their experience which doesn’t have to be mine, their judgments, and that their need to talk or doubt is based on their own fears, and their fears had nothing to do with my love.
I wish I’d known then, that no matter what, if I had owned my journey, my choices, my blessings (as blessings rather than mistakes) that they couldn’t have done a damn thing to make me question myself.
I wish I’d known I can walk into a grocery store with a dress barely past my ass, high heels and nine months pregnant on a smoldering summer afternoon, holding the hands of my two illegitimate children who are the coolest people I’ve met thus far, and that I was allowed to feel good about it!
Mostly, I wish I’d known that at the moment a decision is conceived, it’s a radically bold move to own that decision and make it a happy process to go through, to be proud of, and to be an example for everyone else to do the same.
I have struggled this pregnancy with receiving congratulations; with people being excited for my new daughter to show her face earth-side, because my first two never got some grand applause for their entrance.
I have struggled with the notion that she might not need me the way my other two did because she’s coming into a world that anticipates loving her.
I have struggled with not needing to protect her from a world that rejects her because that’s the only way I’ve known to raise an infant. I have struggled to not be jealous for the sake of my other two children.
What’s the difference between me now and me 12 years ago? I have a piece of paper that says I’m successful. I pay a mortgage. I already raised righteous citizens? No! The only difference I can see is that I’m allowing myself to feel blessed rather than feel like a burden.
I’m allowing my daughter to not have to hide behind the cloak of some social standard for the comfort of everyone except her.
I’m still not married (by choice). I’m still not a millionaire. I still feel like I’m 13 years old living in one constant dance party. 12 years older doesn’t make me different. Not giving a shit about what society says about me, does.
Own your soul sweet, sweet mamas. It’s the only one you’ve got.
Stacy Hoch is a self-help empoweress in private practice, a chakra-centered life coach and a psychology professor with a New Age twist. A soul-searcher, mother by nature, lover by choice, fighter by necessity, she scares the shit out of herself daily with her willingness to become fully alive. Exploring mother/child soul contract and prenatal mother/child relationships and communication light her insides on fire. Check out her daily what-nots at her website and Facebook.