Motherhood is a war.
We’ve waged it on our mothers, as we grow into adorable tiny-tyrants, then impossible tweens, almost breaking them during our teenage years, and coming back to apologize for it sometime after we’ve drained them of all of their emotional resources.
We’ve waged it on ourselves, cramming a certain number of children into a certain age range for whatever is deemed appropriate for the decade we’re in during our designated childbearing years.
We’ve waged it on our children with tests and numbers. Charts and expectations that some doctor with the same name as a Star Trek science officer once wrote down in a book.
But here’s the thing, Dr. Spock. All the babies want is to be loved. To be nurtured. To sleep, eat and poop.
And so, I feed all the babies.
I feed a baby who is adopted.
A baby who won’t sleep through the night.
A baby of a sick mother.
A baby of a surrogate.
A baby who needs more milk.
And Millie. I feed her too.
I feed babies who fit into spaces I’ve never been. Children who were born a different race, gender and religion than my own.
And thus, I’ve fed the mothers.
I’ve given comfort to a mother who could not give her own.
Sleep to a mother who was breaking.
Peace to a mother who was dying.
A blessing to a mother who was trying.
Nourishment to a mother who felt she was failing.
And yet the self-doubt that I have screams so loud you can almost hear it. *pause* There it is now.
It’s what suddenly filled the parts of me that were born with motherhood. Something awakened in me that I didn’t know could be there before. At one point, I was able to feed, dress and entertain myself, and the next moment, I wondered how I could ever sustain another life. How would I prepare these beings I’d created? Would I be right in my actions. In my motherhood.
Would I do motherhood right?
It’s a war we’ve waged since we were born. Against our own mothers and all of their faults, against ourselves and all of our faults, against our children and all the faults we blame ourselves for creating.
And in the midst of this awful mix of blame and faulting- the worries of doing it right and wrong- all the babies just want to be fed.
Motherhood is a war we’ve waged on our bodies, our partners, our children, and worst of all other mothers. It’s a contest of who’s read what, and which method is trending today. And instead of the children, society has made it about us, with the babies being poster children for what “Insert Parent-Type here” looks like. Does your child sleep through the night, wear bigger clothes, eat solids, say 2-word phrases, clap hands, have rosy cheeks? Are you doing it right? Does your child act the way Spock, Karp, Ferber, van de Rijt and Plooij say they should? …all of whom have sold more than a million books which contradict each other.
Somewhere along the line motherhood became more than myself, even more than my own children. It became about the simple act of mothering. To care for, nurture and feed all the babies.
This post was prompted by the amount of disdain I’ve received from other women, some other mothers, who disagree with milk donation. Since Adelaide’s birth, I have donated over 7,000 ounces of breastmilk. I will continue to pump for babies other than my own for as long as I can because I can. I hate the pump. I love the babies. #feedallthebabies
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