My heart pounded, my body ached. I was sweating so much I was sure I had a fever- and I was desperate to hide it. Kind of. “If I have a fever they won’t let me leave.” “Wait, if I have a fever they won’t let me leave. Do I even want to leave? ” My thoughts were like breastmilk… leaky and messy.
I was torn… “Should hide the sweaty fever and escape home? Or find a way to fake one…..so I could stay longer? In the maternity ward. Where at least there are people who are trained to do this.” Staying indefinitely sounds like a good option. Except- I can’t sleep. I’m exhausted. I just want to go home. ”
On the final check- my vitals were normal. Too bad I didn’t feel normal, vitally or otherwise. Not even close. I felt: afraid. In the course of a 45 minute c section- my identity changed. I went from being 21 and a newlywed to being: Mom. In my newly found tenure of mothering, I had thus far, learned one thing: “I have no idea what I am doing.” Suddenly, all the stuff in those books about parenting and child development I’d read, was forgotten. “Did I even read them?” “Did I lose my brain with my placenta?” I had never felt so alone in my life. Husband or not- I was the only mom this kid had. And the idea scared me to death.
For the record? The fear of ruining a tiny defenseless human, feels a lot like the flu. Or a panic attack. Or both.
Dressing in my still a bit snug-how-could- I-not- lose -weight -after -birthing- a -bowling -ball- maternity outfit, I was equal parts: “I should grab my baby and run before they figure out how clueless I am and recall him for his own safety.” And, “Maybe it would be better if I left him here for safe keeping.”
Insurance companies are kind of like tough love- parents- when it’s time for you to GO- they boot you out. Which they did. And since my baby was equally healthy- they booted us both.
I managed to not physically run from the hospital. This is probably only due to the fact that while they’d been forcing me to walk the halls to help me recover-for 6 days- they now forced me to sit in a wheelchair down the same hallway to get to the car. Once seated in the sumptuous (sumptuous- aka: waterproof. Try not to think about it.) vinyl- a bundle of warm wiggles wrapped in a blanket, and hat was placed in my arms. He scrunched up his eyes against the harsh hospital lights.
I scrunched up mine against the harsh fear of failure- and we headed out the door- my husband- his dad- pushing us to the car.
I silently hoped he knew what he was doing. As the chair bounced over every bump the same way he took speed bumps in his car-(I’m so glad those Driver’s license points melt away before your kids take driver’s ed.) I realized he may be about as clueless as me.
That was December 20, 1989.
I like to think we’re less clueless now. And in someways- we are. Parenting is something that is ever changing, evolving, growing and stretching you like a pregnant belly. In other ways- we aren’t.
I was lucky- on one of those early days- when I was so desperate to her an adult voice other than my own-that I played talk radio incessantly and pretended I wasn’t alone- I heard a radio show talk about something called MOPS. Mother’s of Preschoolers. The woman on the radio talked about how clueless she was, how isolated and alone and ill equipped mothering had made her feel, and how this group was there to help moms not be alone. A place for moms to be with other moms. To talk. To listen. To share whatever they have, with each other. Because mothering matters.
My only thought was: “Where do I sign up?”
Not long after that- I did sign up. I’ve been with MOPS ever since. as a mom, a leader, a field leader and now as a member of the Board of Directors. Why? Because I know that every day- in hospitals with doctors, in bedrooms with doulas, in mud huts, big cities, rural farms, military bases and suburbs- women are, in a moment finding a new identity as Mom. Some are afraid. alone. desperate for connection and longing to mother well. Whatever that means.
Everyday a woman feels torn between running home and running away.
And everyday- women find a connections that helps her figure mothering out. And figure out that none of us have it all figured out. At MOPS- through the compassion and care of Jesus- expressed through other moms. just like me.
Today is a special day for MOPS International- MOPS is participating in Colorado Gives- in partnership with Giving First- Click through and look around- enter “MOPS International” in the site’s search bar and read the stories…. women from all over are helping to raise funds to reach out to every mom and offer her hope, help and a place to belong. 100% of donations will go directly to MOPS International.
If you care about mothers and their children- from Russia to Rural America- I hope you’ll click through and consider giving what you can– together we can impact the world, one mom at a time.