I met Claire a few years ago when she visited Kidz Korner, our community children’s clothing exchange. She is a gentle and sweet woman, wife, mom and awesome photographer! I asked her to share her thoughts on parenting. She writes about her ups and downs with infertility/motherhood.
Sprinkled throughout her post, you will see my family pictures she recently photographed at Henry Cowell Redwood State Park in Felton, California. We won her Rainbow Child Photography contest, because we too experienced the lost of a child between our son and daughter. I learned that our daughter Alicia is our Rainbow Child. What a blessing this gift was as we hadn’t taken a family portrait for ten years! Please welcome Claire Brighten!
My experience with motherhood was years in the making – first in biding my time while my husband finished college and searched for his first job, then we learned my body wasn’t ready. Over the course of three years, I had two miscarriages, with months of infertility between pregnancies. I spent months seeing specialists at a fertility clinic, then months going to acupuncture. After my second loss, I gave up and actively tried not to get pregnant. Then we bought a house and moved to a new city and unintentionally became pregnant, and somehow, by some miracle and some focused work on my part on my diet and stress management, I was able to carry my son to term.
So my path to motherhood was a journey indeed.
The loss of a child really helps to put any living children’s minor infractions into perspective. I remind myself often how important my son is, not as a way of letting him off the hook – we deal with his missteps and poor choices as best we are able – but as a way of remembering that these moments are fleeting. Life is fleeting. My son is already somehow 3 years old. I will blink and he will be 5, then 10, then 14, then a full-grown adult. These challenges are ultimately small and the larger picture is that I am grateful for his existence.
But that doesn’t mean I am not frustrated. Often. Motherhood is a task of self-study. Our reactions and interactions are shaping our relationships with our children and their relationships with the world. And we have to look at ourselves constantly – to be more attentive, to be calmer, to be more patient, to be sillier, to be firmer or more lax, to be, in general, the bigger person. And this is challenging – a challenge to ourselves to grow as our children are teaching us about ourselves. And a challenge to fight that internal battle to hold strong even when they are pushing every single button possible – and even some we didn’t know existed.
My son is 3. The “terrible twos” did not exist for us, but the “threenager” stage is in full effect. He talks back. He yells “Stooooopppp!” when we are at the grocery store and I am reminding him to keep his hands in the cart and instead ask questions about what he sees. He wants to do everything himself and thinks he knows best. He does not want to be told what to do. This is by far the most I have been challenged as his mother.
I am on my journey of motherhood and I hear that little voice inside me, remembering how precious this being is to our lives, for the rest of our lives. Today is a challenge. Tomorrow will be a challenge. There will always be a challenge. But I have overcome many just to share in shaping this tiny person’s life – and he mine. He is 3. He gives kisses freely. He wants to hold my hand and run together. He loves to sit with me while I read him books. He finds wonder and excitement in so much of the world around him. At the end of the day, the joys outweigh the challenges. And I will forever be grateful and honored to hold the title of “Mom.”