I Became A Mother On Purpose, But Everything After That Has Been An Accident

by Meredith Ethington
Originally Published: 
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I didn’t accidentally become a mother. No, my husband and I planned it after four years of preventing it. We always knew we wanted kids. I always knew I would be a mother. When I envisioned myself years in the future with several kids, I saw a perfect mother. I imagined laughter and happiness, organic foods, and peace. So much peace.

But now that I’ve been a mother for 10 years, I realize that so much of the kind of mother I have become has happened by accident. It’s not a bad accident, or a good accident, really. It just is. I accidentally became this person whom I sometimes love, sometimes don’t recognize, and sometimes am ashamed of.

Sometimes, I’m proud of this mother I’ve become as I find myself in a teachable moment with my kids or settling a squabble with ease and patience. Sometimes, I sit alone with my thoughts and wonder if I’m doing enough and being enough. And sometimes, I realize that there was no possible way I could have planned any of this. It’s all happened by a beautiful, messy accident.

I accidentally became a mother who fights mental illness while mothering. I accidentally embraced a more free-range style after helicoptering for years. I accidentally became the mom who buys Lunchables even though I think they are the devil’s expensive handiwork, and I accidentally became a writer who has to work out words on virtual paper in order to be okay with her feelings about motherhood.

I could never have imagined the angst and struggle I would feel over this role I’ve filled for 10 years now. I would never have imagined that I’d become a work-at-home mom even though I don’t necessarily need the extra income. So much of the mother we become happens by accident, through experiences that shape and mold us to become the person we were meant to be.

So many of these experiences are happy ones, like how after three kids, I have finally learned to slow down and just watch my youngest experience life when before I was so impatient for something that I can’t quite put my finger on now. I relish in the hugs my middle child is still willing to give me and the spontaneous jokes at dinnertime. I accidentally became the mom who savors and enjoys my children when before I was in such a big hurry to get to the next stage of life.

I also accidentally became a mom passionate about things I never knew I was passionate about. This work of raising souls is great, and I take it seriously.

I accidentally became the mom who fights guilt daily and is learning to let go of an ideal that was never realistic to begin with.

And I accidentally became the mother I never imagined was inside me. And dammit, I’m proud of her.

As Anne Tyler once wrote in her book The Accidental Tourist, “I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not just how much you love someone. Maybe what matters is who you are when you’re with them.”

I accidentally became this person because I am with these little people — my babies. I’m with these children who test me every day and make me grow. I’m with these kids who have tripled my love and challenged it to grow in ways I thought unimaginable. I accidentally became this mother, and I’m still accidentally becoming something else I can’t see yet. I’m different because of who I am when I’m with them.

Sometimes I’m patient, loving, and kind. Other times, I’m a version of myself I’m not proud of. But I wrestle and struggle daily to push my way through this mothering journey and feel pleased with who I’m accidentally becoming because of the gift of being their mom.

I would call it a happy accident, but there is pain in motherhood too: pain when I make mistakes, or hurt them, or have to grow in a way that I don’t want to. So it’s an accident that can’t be confined to happy or sad. It’s more an accidental existence that no woman can ever imagine before experiencing it.

I am becoming a different kind of mother every day, and it’s all happening by a beautiful accident. At least, it seems that way through the narrow view of my eyes. But I believe that all of these beautiful “accidents” happen for a reason.

And becoming the mother I am today, and the mother I will be tomorrow, is the most beautiful accident I could imagine.

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