My journey to motherhood was not an easy one. I got pregnant at 19; I was a freshman in college and unmarried. My parents were very upset with me, but by the time I made it to 42 weeks, my parents were eagerly waiting for the arrival of their first grandchild. I am the second of 4 children and had never really changed a diaper. I knew nothing about breastfeeding other than the fact that my mother breastfed me and her mother breastfed her.
42 weeks. Yes, you read that right. My doctors were very concerned that I had carried my baby too long and that I would have complications because of my age and size. Babies are full term at 36 weeks and according to them I was dangerously overdue., My doctors scheduled me to be induced on Monday, October 10, and they encouraged me to relax over the weekend and arrive early for induction at a nearby hospital.
That Saturday, I was feeling tired and was about to go to bed when my mother told me I had a phone call. It was my grandmother in Texas. I was waiting for her to ask me some superficial questions, like if I had been walking, eating spicy food, and all the other crazy wise tales that have been passed down for generations to bring on labor. She was silent for a while. “Hey Grandma, are you there?” She spoke softly. “Miss McGillicuddy (her nickname for me). Why are you afraid?” I laughed, “Afraid of what?” She didn’t answer my question. “Fear is keeping my great grandbaby in there. Stop being afraid. Women have been equipped with everything they need to be a mom. You have been equipped, and God has equipped you. I want you to go to a quiet place and pray. Tell God to ‘let your labor begin’. Stop being fearful.” She said some other things and we got off the phone.
I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I decided to go to the bathroom since the baby was playing kickball with my bladder anyway. I whispered quietly, “I’m not afraid. Let my labor begin” Nothing happened. I went and got back in the bed. Within an hour I started having labor pains. My daughter, Laia Michelle, was born October 9th.
What is it about being a mom that is so scary? To me, everything. Am I too young, too old? What about SIDS? What if I have a miscarriage? Breastfeeding, formula? Co-sleeping, crib, toddler bed? What kind of car seat? Spanking or timeouts, or both? Homeschool? Organic? What if my child gets sick? Married or single? Stay-at-home or working mom? Mozart or Tupac? How will I shower? What if my partner has a different parenting style? What if I can’t afford this child? What if I spoil them too much? Fear.
After 15 years, I became a mom again. I found myself battling some of the same fears that I had with my daughter. Will I have enough love in my heart for another kid? Should I vaccinate? What if I die during childbirth? What if I have to have a C-section? My grandmother’s wise words carried me another 42 weeks. This time, not out of fear but out of knowing my baby would be perfectly safe taking his time. My son, Asher Emanuel, was born February 3, 2020.
The truth is, being a mom is scary. In some cases you have to carry a life inside of you and in others, you’re an adoptive mom or stepmom. Then you have to nurture that life and hope that you don’t mess it up. There are tons of manuals, Google product reviews, doctors, scientific studies and journals, and other mom blogs that have their own ideas about what motherhood should be like. I encourage you to listen to sound counsel, but the truth is: you are equipped to be a mom. You are equipped to be a good one. Never let fear stop you. Whether it is their first fever or their first skinned knee, go with your gut. Sounds cliche’, but I see so many moms feeling inadequate and ill-equipped because of what another mom does or doesn’t do. Do what works for you.
I am parenting without fear. Allowing my children to be comforted when they need it, being disciplined how I’m led, and loved without limits.
Embrace the scariest job on Earth without fear. You are equipped, mom.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Yolanda “Ms. McGillicuddy” Hardnett
~~This post is dedicated to all mothers, but especially my grandmother who departed this earth October 14, 2013. Thank you for equipping me.~~