In November I had a baby. She is, as the nurses proclaimed when she was just born, spunky. She is also sweet, observant and just so delightful. I was thrust into motherhood and felt all the things I expected to feel – excited, scared, and incredibly tired. What I did not expect was the uncertainty. Yet as I began to settle into this new role there was a lingering sense of anxiety under the surface. So I read the books, I read the blogs; I talked to friends, and tried to figure out this thing called motherhood. I was looking for someone to tell me how to do it. And there were many who were willing to do just that. Your daughter is fussy at night? Follow these three steps to calm evenings. She won’t take a bottle? Six simple tricks to encourage bottle feedings. It is alluring, isn’t it? Yet despite all the answers others gave and legitimate wisdom from those who have gone before, I was not satisfied. All of the books, all of the blogs, all the advice, though helpful, were getting in the way of what I really needed -to find my own voice as a mother. I did not need to know how to do motherhood “right” I needed to know how to do motherhood honestly.
This temptation to try and find the “right” way is not new to me nor do I think it is unique to me. Sometimes we focus so much on looking for external answers that we forget to listen to ourselves. I was actually after something deeper and more profound than what to do, I was searching for my unique identity as a mother to my daughter’s unique self, and no book or blog post could answer that for me. Madeline L’Engle writes in A Circle of Quiet, “Here we are, living in a world of identity crises and most of us have no idea what an identity is. Half the problem is that an identity is something that must be understood intuitively, rather than in terms of provable fact.” Many years ago I learned to practice being quiet, to create space to hear my own voice and to trust it. There are times that I am better at it and times that I am worse, but motherhood was a reminder to me that I continually need to search for and trust my own voice.
Our culture certainly encourages us to find our meaning in external things like work or possessions, and maybe you’ve been listening to others so much that your own voice seems to be drowned out. Or maybe you simply want to explore your identity - who you are created to be in a way that is deeper than checklists, accomplishments or goals. There is no 6 step plan for being a mother, doing life or for finding our voice. I personally invite you, through therapy, to have a place to create space, to explore, to go deeper and really learn to listen to yourself.