Emotional understanding.

Surprisingly, I have learned as much about myself these past nine months of raising Beauden, as I have about my rapidly growing son.  More than anything, I learned that I have pockets of emotion that I wasn’t willing to experience before having a kid.  They didn’t seem to be a problem, which is almost unbelievable to me now.  Looking back, there they were, and I can clearly see how hard, much, much too hard I worked to avoid them, deny them and sadly, even punish myself because they simply existed.  But, I wasn’t even aware that I could simply feel that thing that felt like a neck ache, a bad mood or a problem with someone else.  It still amazes me a little bit.  There is literally a way out of those traps, and it isn’t simply pretending that they don’t exist.  The catch is, the gateway out is blocked by an enormous, seemingly immobile bodyguard named Fear.  But the secret is, Fear is actually extremely insecure and often even childlike, when you are willing to look squarely in its deformed, terrifying face.  The process of turning towards Fear can feel like you are going crazy, outside your body, buzzing with a strange, unnamable energy or sick – a mere second from throwing up or dying of an unnamed disease.

The beginning of the baby was filled with Fear’s presence for me.  A Fear that I had never quite known, because I couldn’t escape it, push it aside and pretend it didn’t exist because I was never, ever going to stop loving the thing that was triggering the fear – my beautiful baby boy.  And, to tame Fear, I had to begin looking in all those pockets of emotion just beyond Fear’s doorway that I was unable to witness up until my 36th year of life, which seems so horribly old to begin facing this process.  Grief, sadness, insecurity, creativity, joy – they felt larger than life.  Thoughts like, “I can’t do this,” went through my head.  I couldn’t sleep.  The only thing that felt better was holding my baby and learning about my emotions.  So, I did those two things, every day.  For months.

I had no idea when I was picking out colors for my son’s nursery that I was actually creating a sanctuary for this process.  He plopped in this world as a teacher before he could even talk.  He wasn’t teaching me with his words, he was teaching me with his unflappable presence that provided a mirror into my soul and a light into the dark cavities of my spirit.  I wanted the process to stop immediately and to never, ever stop.  And now, as I sit here 9 months in, I am certain.  This is the only way.  It’s not easy, but I grow softer and stronger through the process.  And for that, all I can say is, thank you.

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5 comments


  • Sandy

    A lovely look at the kind of imperfection that fertilizes growth: mothers and children. I can only speak to my own limited experience but that recipe for growth never ends. Thankfully.

    October 7, 2015
  • Ian

    Other than scorpions (inside joke with Molly and John) the biggest fear I’ve ever had to overcome was my decision to get a divorce. Sadly, I contemplated it for many years and the fear became even greater once my daughter was born. I was so afraid of ruining her life by breaking up the family. It occurred to me that I had never considered any up sides that would result from divorce. For the record, I’m not advocating divorce. After many months of counseling, I decided to ask the therapist if anything positive could come from a divorce? Here reply was an emphatic, “yes”. I remember sitting straight up on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear her explanation. She said that my daughter would most likely mimic the same type of relationship in her own life when she got old enough to start dating. Now, if you consider that the whole time I thought I was protecting my daughter by staying in the marriage, hearing this POV came as a complete shock to me. I was actually doing more harm than good by staying in the marriage. after years of living with fear of getting a divorce, I realized in that moment, divorce was the best thing I could do for both my daughter’s health and happiness, as well as my own. The many fears I had created in my head, about what would go wrong, were unfounded. It was fear of the unknown. While it has been a long journey, with many bumps in the road, I can honestly say that overcoming that fear was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Onto conquering my next fear: my 17-year-old daughter dating!

    October 7, 2015
  • DAD

    Your December blog was entitled “Growing a person”. That could also have been used for this latest blog. You need to share more of your thoughts in these blogs. Everyone would benefit.

    October 7, 2015
  • Violeta

    Hi Molly,

    Thank you for sharing such a raw post with us. I too can relate, as a new mom I had a really hard time navigating my waves of emotions during the first year. Now that my son is 15 months old I am starting to feel like we are finally have a groove and feel like myself again. I think it’s totally something us moms should speak more openly about, to share the joy, the beauty, the amazing feelings that being a mom is– but also the hard stuff. The feelings of being over whelmed and not good enough and all of those things. It’s all very normal and part of the process. What helps me a lot is reading beautifully written stories about motherhood. One of my favorite blogs is a collective blog on motherhood. (www.coffeeandcrumbs.net) I’m sure you will find these stories as inspiring as I do. Also, this book called Mama Bare (can be found on amazon) is a raw, real, emotional collection of stories written by moms during the first month of motherhood. Kristen Hedges, the one who put it all together is an amazingly poetic writer and has a blog/instagram where she shares her thoughts.

    We mamas do holy work. Everyday for our babies. You’re not alone, we’re in this together! Sending lots of hugs from a fellow new mama,

    Violeta

    October 17, 2015
    • Molly Chester

      Violeta – Your words mean so much to me! And, I can’t WAIT to check out those books. Hugs – Molly

      October 23, 2015

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