The Courageous Mama Manifesto

by Chantelle
being a mother

To become a mother is a journey of epic proportions. It takes guts to step into the shoes of your female ancestors and bring life into the world. This is for all the mums who did it before they were ready. This is for all mothers, because there’s no such thing as ready.

We trusted that we would grow into it, just as our mothers trusted we would grow into the oversized pink shoes they bought us for our 7th birthdays. We looked fear straight in the eyes and told ourselves we’d figure it out. So what if we’d never changed a diaper or burped a baby—how hard could it be?

We overcame the fear of missing out, the pangs of jealousy as we watched our childless friends do their thing without a care in the world. We shot down the judgmental glances from our peers who refused to give life before they had it all together, as if that ever happens. We mamas who lie in bed at night and worry that we won’t be able to pay for our kids to go to fine arts class or study acrobatics. We will find a way. We can find success while maintaining a family, while instilling within our children courage and stamina. We, the mothers who didn’t have the strength to keep our romantic relationship together with a new addition—how were we to know being a mother would be so hard, that it would change everything?

We—who read every book, watched every documentary, and proceeded to do what seems to the mind impossible, but to the body only natural—thought the first six months were hard, but we saw that the gradual progression of challenges pushed our inner limits. We learn patience every day, and if we’re really on it, we learn presence and that our child is our greatest present, our biggest teacher, our strongest motivator. We have good days, we have bad, we have solid healthy relationships, and we have sad.

There are nights when worry plagues our every platelet and others where gratitude swells so fierce it brings tears to our eyes. We witness the fastest changes, in ourselves, in our children, but most of the time we don’t even know they’re occurring until we look back on who we were before. A different person has emerged, and we didn’t even notice—a whole new aspect of womanhood, a whole new chapter to both celebrate and mourn, for the person we were before is not gone, but transformed. We see our old friends and find ourselves at a loss as to what to talk about. We struggle to maintain ourselves, to keep the balance and a semblance of the identity within us that isn’t just mother. Although there is no shame in being just mother, we are all so much more than that.

We’ve never made so many choices in our lives as we do during conception and the first years of motherhood. We wonder all day long about what is best. Should we sleep together? Should we nurse? Should we vaccinate? The questions are endless; we swim in a sea of comparisons. But then we realize that we can’t make these choices based on anyone else. We learn to take heed, listen to our intuition, and do what we think is best for our babies.

We learn that we are so much stronger than we thought and that we’re also much more tender and giving than our selfish prior selves could have imagined. We try to be our best selves and set a good example, as we’re forced to ask ourselves what that is. We realize there is no perfection in being a mother; there are always mistakes and hiccups, but there are always kisses and endless amounts of love that know no bounds, and with that, we can overcome anything.