One of the things that surprised me the most about becoming a mother was the solitude. Although I was constantly with another person (granted, a person who couldn’t talk), I was shocked by how alone I felt. People seemed more than happy to give advice but very few seemed to get what I was going through, who even seemed to care how I was feeling and what I was experiencing. When I tried to talk about my feelings I would get kind pats on the arm, cups of tea and lots of “there, there dear, it will get better.” So I started to keep my feelings to myself, increasing my sense of isolation.
I thought once I became a mother I would gain exclusive access to the “club of mothers” and I would feel like I belonged there. However, the reality was that I felt like I had very little in common with other mothers that I met; with all of their “loving every minute of it” proclamations and what I saw as judgmental comments if I wasn’t making my own baby food, happily satisfying my baby’s every need and generally oozing with bliss over every moment of being a mother.
For me there was no sisterhood involved in motherhood.
As my kids have grown and, in turn, I have grown as a mother, things have gotten easier. I am more comfortable with being a mother and feel more able to share the truths and realities of my life as a mother and blogging has allowed me to get to know other mothers out there who a similar point of view (and a sense of humour)!
But when I think back to those early months and years, I still remember that sense of isolation and solitude and small things bring the feelings of that time all rushing back.
I was standing in my kitchen the other morning and an e-mail came through on my BlackBerry. It was from one of the “parenting” newsletters I belong to, one that usually contains information about healthy lunches, easy craft activities and simple exercises moms can do at the park – you know, the kind of thing I normally delete without even looking at. But on this particular day, the headline caught my attention. It said “The Blog Post That Everyone’s Reading.”
Well of course I needed to read it.
As mentioned before, if everyone is reading it then I really need to see what it’s all about. As I clicked through the link and saw the post, it wasn’t what I expected it to be. It was “An open letter to the woman in the Safeway parking lot.“
As I stood there reading the post I realized I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I could put myself exactly in this woman’s shoes and I could feel her terror, her agony and her guilt.
And then I got to this part and my quiet stream of tears turned into a heart-wrenching sob and the full out “ugly cry.”
“You are not a bad mother,” you kept saying. “Accidents happen to all of us moms.” I am too messed up to thank you for your kindness, to let you know it is saving me right now.
This act of kindness, this knowledge that as a mother the only thing scarier than having our kids injured in an accident is dealing with the guilt if that accident was because of something we did. Mothers are supposed to protect their kids and the guilt of thinking we caused our child any pain is something that a mother will carry around for the rest of her life.
This woman knew that and she said the one thing that all mothers need to hear, whether we admit it or not. ”You are not a bad mother.” Even if we know it’s true in our heads, something about hearing it said out loud makes it more believable. And if it comes from the lips of someone who is a mother herself, well then we might even accept it to be true.
Reading this post and hearing about this woman, this stranger, who reached out to comfort another mother in need touched something deep inside of me. It made me believe that if, heaven forbid something like this happened to me, that there would be a mother there to comfort me; or that I could be that person for another mother in need. That maybe it is possible to leave our own insecurities and judgments at the door and just meet each other in the middle as mothers, just trying to do our best.
It made me believe that maybe there is a sisterhood of mothers out there; and that maybe one day I can be a part of it.