This is a parenting page, about parenting Page. I am a child psychologist and a mother. So I specialize in children, yet I am human, thus I am full of knowledge and yet as full of emotions as any other parent. I decided to write this Parenting Page since it might be informative and funny for others to take an insider look at a child specialist raising her child. I also wanted to create a way to show Page when she grows up, if she chooses to have children, a real-life view of the experience. I hope you enjoy these stories and musings.
A couple of weeks ago in staff meeting, one of the clinicians was sharing her weekly update and describing the current hellish evening routine as her young son tantrums and is overall unpleasant. Interspersed with her vivid descriptions of trying to hold a difficult child with one arm and cook dinner for the family with the other hand, she would pause to say, “Oh, but being a mother is great.” Then back to reality and another description of how awful it is right now, followed by the disclaimer, “I know this sounds horrible, and it is right now, but really, it’s not that bad, I love being a mom.”
The pervasiveness of mother-guilt crosses cultures and religions. There is definitely a strong societal pressure for mothers to emote how much they love being a mom, no matter how difficult it is at times. A dad can say, “Little Johnny is in a tantrum phase and driving me insane!” without following up with, “But I love being a dad.” But if a mother says that parenting can be awful and leaves it at that, she risks negative judgement. Yet we would probably all do better and be better if we were authentic, because authenticity creates loving support. I declare it is healthier to be loud and proud about the complexities of motherhood, which can bring the highest highs and the lowest lows. We should talk about the ways in which motherhood enriched us and depleted us, the pros and the cons, the rewards and the costs. We should embrace the entirety of motherhood. I am convinced that talking openly about the underside does not in any way diminish the upside, but just the opposite, because highs are higher by comparison to their opposite.
So at the risk of (certain) judgement (from some), I will share a writing I did on giving birth. This was from a one-hour writing workshop and had no planning or forethought. We were asked to pick something in the room and describe it with five ‘I’ statements. I saw some artistic replicas of cave drawings. Next we were asked to pick the one sentence that stood out to us or that seemed most difficult or uncomfortable to write about. For me that sentence was “I am spiritual.” We were to reflect for a moment on what image or memory that brought up for us, and given 10 minutes to write stream of consciousness without editing. Here is my piece:
I am in the operating room, being prepped for my C-section. The doctors strap my arms down, straight out to my sides, and it occurs to me this is like being on a crucifix. Sunday school was a long time ago, but I remember the lingo. Interesting, I think. Giving my life so another can live. I do not think I will die in the C-section. No, I too shall rise. A changed woman with a changed life; I am 38 and not naive. I know that in being a mother I will sacrifice great parts of myself, my time, my desires. I do not do so without trepidation. I will love my daughter but will both love and dislike motherhood. But here I am, on my crucifix, giving life. The essence of spirituality. I am willingly and unwillingly the Creator.
Dr. Tina Lepage is the owner of Lepage Associates Solution-Based Psychological & Psychiatric Services, a group practice with offices in S. Durham/RTP, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh. She lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. www.lepageassociates.com. You can find her on Twitter at @LepageAssoc or at Facebook.com/LepageAssociates.