It’s Gonna Take a Lifetime
Updated: Jun 17, 2022
We often hear about the transformation a woman undergoes when becoming a mother. There is an acknowledgement of grief for the old self. It’s part of the cycle of change many even admit to being hard. The responsibilities of caring for a vulnerable little human is emotionally, mentally and physically draining.
No matter the amount of outside help or self-care one takes being a parent is a 24-hour 7 days a week gig that forever changes your life and who you are. I am reminded of this exhaustively. On my social media I cannot get away from the content of “how hard it is.” Family gatherings have a lot of “I told you so” stories. Even strangers feel so comfortable to say “I bet he keeps you busy.” So much chatter is around how parenthood transforms you, but there is not enough talk about how it strips you down to the bare essence of who you always have been.
You see my biggest struggle in the past year and a half from when I gave birth has not so much been the letting go of my former self. It has been in the reacquainting with the deeply rooted and wildly entangled parts of me that come out in a snap. Behavior so second nature, so instinctual, that it escapes me before I am able to react to the reaction. Motherhood has dug me deep into the traumas of my childhood that have been buried for so long; I did not even know they were there. It has also unveiled generational cycles that I inherited from my parents, who inherited them from their parents, so on and so on.
These are the parts of me that still hurt from a lineage of machismo, poverty, narcissism, addiction, co-dependency, mental illness and abuse. Even though my lived experience is far from what my grandparents endured who grew up an in impoverished and colonized country, the feeling of not being good enough haunts our family till this day. So it is no surprise that in my most vulnerable transitional life stage, I am often triggered to feel inadequate as a mother. That when frustrated I react with impatience and anger; and when tired I shut down and go to silence. This is the behavior that makes me cry of embarrassment and shame, because my son deserves better. My partner deserves better. I deserve better.
Self-awareness has been the hardest part of parenthood for me, so far. I have so much healing to do for myself and for my family, because here is the thing - my children will not carry the hurts of our ancestors. We all do the best we can with what we have and it’s both an obligation and responsibility for me to do better. I am humble enough to know it will not happen everyday. I am human and the work of healing is a lifetime effort. But I am committed to the work of grounding myself when I feel out-of-touch, crying the tears my inner child and ancestors were not able to, and taking every moment possible to pause with my loved ones and be grateful; grateful for the shared moment, for them, for this life, for you my reader.
And so everyday, while he naps, I lay down with my baby boy and reflect. I smell his hair and kiss his forehead. Sometimes I cry from pure happiness, other times from pure hurt. But everyday, every single day, I smell his hair and kiss his forehead because it is both my obligation and responsibility.