When I first became a mom, I obsessed over dramatic scenarios that could endanger my new, helpless baby. Not only was I petrified for my son’s safety, but I also agonized over my potential response to the situation. Would I lose my mind or would I remain calm? Would I react quickly enough or would I freeze in fear? Thankfully, none of my imagined scripts ever played out in real life.
But as time went by and my son grew older and gained a sister, new, unexpected scenarios became reality. For example, when my oldest ran down the driveway after his CozyCoup, while I, obliviously, buckled baby sister in her car seat. Or when my youngest gasped for air as she choked on the pretzels she shoved in her mouth way too fast. Or most recently, when my oldest cracked his nasal bones on the slide at Central Market and swelled from his forehead to the tip of his nose. All of which shook me to my core, and were mostly unavoidable.
Prior to kids, I would have never described myself as a “calm under pressure” kinda gal. I’m the girl who trips over her own feet climbing to her seat at the movies because the pressure to get it right is far too high.
If you’re like me, you know how paralyzing the fear of failing is.
As a labor doula, I sometimes face serious and sobering situations, moments when my title requires that I remain calm, regardless of the chaos around me. Like when a client’s baby labors for his first breath or, on occasion, when the baby’s heart rate drops dangerously low. I have found in these moments I always rise up to the occasion for as long as the moment lasts.
When truly under pressure, it feels like my worried spirit rises out of my body, while the rest of me gets the job done, whatever job is necessary. When my daughter was gasping for air, my CPR training from years past immediately filled my mind. I calmly flipped her over my knees and hit her back until she barfed up what clogged her throat. It wasn’t until after the Heimlich that my heart began pounding and I began weeping. When my son fell nose-first into the slide, I ran straight to him without tripping once. I calmly scooped him into my arms, wiped his tears, found him ice and a paper towel, then called the doctor. I didn’t cry or freeze. Nor did I catch him. We can’t protect them from everything. As far as the CozyCoup incident, well, that one is cataloged under Divine Intervention.
In our society of Mommy Wars and Media Mobs, it’s easy for a mother to lose confidence in herself. It’s easy to question your every move and wonder if you’re doing the right thing, when you know the whole world is watching, judging.
Can I speak some truth into your heart right now? You are capable of far more than you could imagine. Mama Bear is not a myth, and she lives inside you, ready to awaken when you need her. So, stop all the worrying. When necessary, you will rise up to the challenge. It may not be perfect, life rarely is. You can’t know all the things all the time. But you are biologically equipped with a logic that exceeds the natural world. You need only to give yourself a chance.
As mothers, we must trust and exercise our intuition. And, if I may be so bold, I think we need to trust each other, too. It’s time to lay down our pitchforks and judgments, throw each other a bone, and give out grace like it’s our job. Only then will we see mothers mothering with confidence. Only then will we truly enjoy this all-consuming job raising up the next generation.
When was the last time you followed your motherly intuition?