My first Mother’s day as a single mom.
Mother’s day is always a time of reflection for me, but this year just feels different.
I got divorce papers yesterday, two days before Mother’s day.
While I’ve known for some time that they were coming and have made peace with my reality, it was still an emotional, melancholy kind of day. I woke up this morning pondering life, the way I always do when I need to “process” something in my world.
Lying in bed, I looked over and saw my 6 ½ year old son snuggled up in my comforter snoring lightly. I heard my 2yo daughter playing in the next room, making all the usual toddler sounds. And then my 10 year old son came in my room to surprise me with coffee in bed. It was his first time making coffee!
And all at once, I knew… it’s all going to be ok. I’m so very blessed in my life, not only in spite of life’s challenges, but BECAUSE of them.
I look back at my pregnancies and births… all very different, and each with unique challenges. My first, was seemingly more “textbook” medically speaking, but surrounded in emotional struggle, as I worked through my fears of becoming a parent and being responsible for another life, and wondering what the experience of birth would entail.
I didn’t know if I could do it, and was afraid of what was ahead.
With my second I felt more confident and ready, having had some basis of experience. But I had medical concerns after having tried to conceive for a little while, experiencing two losses, and then being labeled high risk and placed on and off of bed rest repeatedly. It felt like the longest pregnancy in the history of pregnancies.
My third was a surprise baby, after I had accepted that “two is an ok number”. Even though I had a desire for more children, my husband did not… and after going back and forth for several months, I accepted and learned to respect his stance. A few months later, surprise!
The pregnancy was surreal, and seemed to go by fast. And then she surprised us AGAIN by being a precipitous birth (aka born at home, two weeks before her EDD, not at all the way I pictured her birth to be).
The times I thought I wasn’t strong enough, or times I felt anxiety and uncertainty, or times I felt surrounded by people, but still somehow alone… Those times stretched my understanding of my world.
I grew and matured, even when I didn’t want to. But even more importantly, they help me understand others whose worlds may seem different and foreign to me.
I can be a doula who is truly unbiased and non-judgmental in my support because, while the details may differ, the compassion to hold space in a life transition can remain the same.
We’re all just people, trying to navigate the ups and downs or life.
I can equally celebrate with my clients, and cry with them. I can remind them that it’s OK not to have all the answers, and to feel unexpected emotions. It’s ok to change the plan when need be.
I can listen respectfully, knowing the difference between a neutral observation and a judgement. And I can encourage parents to find what’s right for THEM, not what they think is expected by others.
All in all, I can say this: I see parallels between parenting and marriage. The birth of my babies brought the end of pregnancy and shifted my identity away from how I previously viewed myself. It brought growth of character.
The divorce papers may mean shifting my identity away from being a wife and stay at home mom, but having seen change in my life so many times before I can confidently say my new identity as a single mom and professional doula is a role I know I’ll thrive in.
Change is hard, but in the end it’s oh so worth it.
I’ve got this… and so do you.