Woke up exhausted the other day. All sweaty and terrified, having spent the night dreaming of a long hurdle race I was in. So random. Or was it?
I don’t know if it’s Michelle’s doing, but I have grown a strong liking to the word Becoming. Having indulged in her mesmerizing narrative, I came to greatly appreciate how even the slightest stimuli got to add up and shape her existence. She’s hardly the first -or only one- out there who grew into a person, but she certainly knows how to make a good story out of it. And it’s not just some nice tale about merely collecting experiences.
Michelle Obama’s memoir is about connecting the dots to generate her own sense of higher meaning. Kicking-off life by finding her identity, she progressed into teaming with her mate; a crucial step for her to realize how there’s something more than just Me or Us. She found deeper meaning in her upbringing. The compounded experience served as her growth ladder. No wonder her message got to motivate hundreds of thousands to attend her #IAmBecoming tour! It’s inspiring to say the least. But not all people focus on that happy-go-lucky side of Becoming.
I recently came across an article talking about how gathering experience actually gets to be a kind of burden. How, after you have conquered the “experience hill” (“the life you had, the things you saw, the stuff you did and didn’t do, the regrets, the triumphs and errors, the feelings and the learning that went with them” as the author Leda Glyptis defines it) the real work begins. How excuses end, how you can’t just nest and enjoy the view. Owning what you have become, actually obliges you to act. And act smart. And well. Wholeheartedly. Now!
Leda focuses in the workplace, coloring a world of aching joins and creaking bones. She talks of a being able to know stuff. “The way things work. The way people are. What bad looks like. What the acceptable spectrum of behavior is. What the acceptable margin of error is.” She talks about our professional selves. The way our careers evolve. And it’s neither just skill, nor just effort. It comes. Not magically or instantaneously, but in time. But isn’t that how it works in Motherhood too?
Becoming a Mom is actually a process. And, yet, there are people around us who still think that it relies on a switch. You give birth, switch turns on, you get it. You are already there, you have become. And then they get harsh on new Mom next door: How is it possible that she doesn’t know already? Why does she freak out? And then, judgements pass and the worthless blaming starts. And new Mom who didn’t magically Become starts to feel she is doing something wrong. It must be her fault! She must be the odd one out. The one who failed to instantly get it. And this vicious circle feeds an inner feeling of shame, all based on unrealistic expectations our society breeds.
But Motherhood has no switch, lass. It’s not about knowing the stuff or having seen it all before either. What Leda sees in professional experience, is equally true for Motherhood as well. “It’s about having seen enough and learned enough to be able to find ways forward, ways to go from good to better, from ‘the way things are’ to ‘the way things could be’.”
It’s learning to overcome obstacles and jump over hurdles, one sprint at a time. It’s a long and exhausting race. A Marathon of hurdles. You sign up for it without knowing how long it really is. You may be tempted to quit. You may initially fear that what got you here won’t suffice. That you aren’t enough. That you may never be. But that’s so not true…
You are enough, Momma. And you are Becoming. You are going the distance. One day at a time. One hurdle race at a time. One failure at a time. One success at a time. Oftentimes Motherhood may seem like a burden. Other times you will get all pumped up by the feeling of purpose; that amazing sense of higher meaning. Same coin, two sides. What society fails to tell you, though, is this: it will come. In time.
You got this!