When in doubt, choose Love.

Both my daughters were Caesarean births. Not the birth story I had in mind, but hey, that’s the one they got.

Picture this: my gyno drops the bombshell that I have an “incompetent cervix.” Seriously? Only a man would say that to a nine-month-pregnant woman about to give birth and embark on the scariest adventure of her life. Couldn’t he have used a less terrifying term? Like ‘you have a beautifully imperfect portal to give this child entry into the world beyond the womb’?

Needless to say, it took a lot of post-birth therapy to get over the trauma of his declaration. But, with a lot of my posse of girlfriends, not too mention wine, I’ve come a long way. I’ve even learned to laugh at myself for taking it so seriously. Back then, though, it felt like he was calling me defective, like I was less of a woman because my cervix wasn’t up to par.

Fast forward to the moment they lifted my precious newborn out of the shelter of my womb, and I couldn’t care less about how she took the final plunge into this world. She was perfect, and that’s all that mattered.

And then, the even scarier part of the journey began. Learning what it meant to be a mother.

Being an overachiever and go-get-er-done kind of gal, I figured I’d have the basics down pat and be sending her off to University in no time flat. And then, real life interrupted.

The next day, lying in bed, watching my child in the bassinet beside me, counting her breaths (you gotta make sure they keep breathing. Right?), with every rise and fall of her tiny chest I felt the tension ease. We were off to a good start.

Until, a lady named Jody came waltzing into my room with a too cheery hello and a booklet titled “When you’re not woman enough to have a working cervix” (Okay, I might be exaggerating the title). She explained she was from the Caesarean Birth Support Group and had come to help me get over the trauma of missing out on the most womanly of arts; pushing my child into this world through the birth canal. Seriously? I cringed and pulled away when she tried to show the booklet to me. Who even needs that kind of support group?

Lying there, listening to her go on and on, I wondered if I had so mis-judged my motherly capacities that my daughter wouldn’t be better off remaining under the care of professionals until her eighteenth birthday. Was my incompetent cervix an even bigger indication of my unfitness to be a mother? .Jody carefully explained all the feelings I should be having (which I had no idea I was supposed to be having) as I sank deeper and deeper into an ocean of self-doubt. When she again reminded me that she was there to support me, I didn’t laugh, cry, or chuck my brand-new breast pump at her. I politely thanked her and showed her the exit.

Why do we burden mothers with so much judgment and comparison? We spend ages scrutinizing each other, insisting there’s only one right way to be a “good” mom, or to become one. Why don’t we instead, do what we do for our kids? — Support, cheerlead, and create a loving space for growth and learning.

The fact is, before actually becoming a mother, motherhood was never on my radar; it terrified me. I’d spent my twenties declaring I wasn’t mother material. In fact, the medical experts agreed, after two ectopic pregancies left me with one tiny half of a fallopian tube, they told me I probably never could. Did I need more proof than that as to the motherly material of my make-up?

And then, at 32-years of age, the miracle of my daughter happened and I realized, ready or not, I had to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, learn how to be a mother for a child who entered this world in her own way, without an instruction book on how to keep her alive and thriving. It was like diving into an on-the-job training course where I learned to grow up one step at a time while doing my best to not count all my mistakes, and dwell on the misteps and falling downs.

Even now, with my daughters and stepchildren as adults, I’m still learning. It’s a never-ending journey where I must constantly let go of believing I have all the answers or know what’s best for them.

So, Jody from the Caesarean Support Group, I didn’t deprive my daughters of anything by skipping the “birth canal journey.” And if they ever feel they missed out, therapy is on me!

What I’ve learned through diving into the deepwaters of motherhood without having any idea of the its destation is that while becoming a mother was accidental, the mother I am today is no accident. My children have taught me, every step of the way, more than anyone else ever could, that there’s no perfect way to bring a child into this world just as there’s no one way to become or be a parent. There is only the way it happens. And when we give it our best, when we stop looking back at all our mistakes or comparing our path to someone else’s or to an ideal we cannot attain, the road ahead is full of adventure beyond our wildest imagingings.

And, when the path is dark and the seas are stormy, when in doubt settles in like a cloud, choose love—it’s the best way to navigate this wild ride called motherhood.

My Mother’s Love

My mother and I had a challenging relationship.

In her view, I was always criticising her for not being the mother I wanted/needed her to be. In mine, I felt like I was never the daughter she wanted/needed me to be.

As we both grew older, the tensions between us eased, but finding harmony in a relationship where we felt comfortable and free to be ourselves was a constant journey into acceptance.

When she died at 97 years of age a couple of weeks before COVID lockdowns began, we’d reached a truce. As long as I didn’t try to get her to talk about the past, which in her mind was me just trying to make trouble as I always did, we had a modicum of peace between us. It was a tentative peace, one she was not willing to put to the test, Which meant, we never spent time together alone. Which, for me meant, we never talked about the things that mattered most.

At the time, wished it could have been otherwise, but my desire to ‘clean up the past’ was to her, a recipe for pain and more hurt. Silence was our companion, the boundaries of which were not safe to cross.

After her death, she began to ‘visit’ me whenever I was in the bath. I was a tad confused and consternated by her choice of venue. She’d arrive, dressed up á la Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany fame, long ebony cigarette holder in one hand, a martini glass in the other.

You are not my mother, I told her. My mother would never be so daring.

She laughed (something I did not recall my mother doing very often in life) and replied that on this earthly plain, the burdens she carried weighed her down so much she could never be find her lightness of being.Just as she could never be the mother I wanted (needed) her to be.

That shut me up.

My mother admitting she might have failed me?

I didn’t dare say it out loud.

It didn’t matter. She laughed at my thinking.

I’m spirit, she said. I can see through all those bubbles you pile on top of you in the bath to hide your naked body and, I can read your mind. Don’t worry. On this side of life, there is no judgement, only Love.

I wrote a lot about my mother’s after-life visits. They were healing, comforting and above all, loving. They filled in the missing pieces, smoothed out the rough edges and built a pathway to understanding, forgiveness and acceptance.

My mother’s and my relationship was exactly as it was meant to be. It was the starting point of the journey that brought me here, to where I am today, grateful, accepting and loving of the path I took to get me here, to this place where I am today.

No matter its hardships, no matter my falls, my tumbles, my getting lost and losing my way, it was the path I took. I cannot change the path behind me, just as I could never change my mother.

There were a thousand paths I could have taken, a thousand things my mother and I could ahve done differently. It doesn’t matter.

It is not the path I took nor how angry or resentful of my mother i was, or how I much I judged her lacking (and wished I hadn’t) that counts today, It is how bright the light I shine on my path, how much joy and love I dance with on my journey from here that makes a difference.

My mother taught me that. After she was gone.

My mother gave me life.

For nine months she carried me in her womb, praying for my safe arrival.

She did not intend to make my journey hard or difficult. She did not intend to hurt me or cause me to doubt who I am or my worth. And she did not purposefully or knowingly do the things she did that caused me pain.

Like me, she did the best she could with the tools and resources she had. She struggled. She fell. She got back up and tried again.

She hurt. She bled. She cried. She despaired.

Yet, through it all, no matter how difficult the road she traveled, no matter how dark the night or bleak the weather ahead, she never quit doing the one thing her mother’s heart told her she must do – love the child that was me, no matter how much she did not understand, agree nor approve of the road I was on. No matter how hard I fought against her. All she could do was love the only way she could. Her way.

My mother wasn’t perfect.

But then, neither am I.

What my mother was is the one thing I can never deny, she was the woman who gave me life. She loved me as best she could no matter how difficult I sometimes made her journey.

I am grateful.

I am blessed.

And,above all, I accept, she did the best she could in the life she gave me.

And in that life she gave me, I have come to know the truth about who I am. I am not the stories I’ve told that kept me walking in the pain of believing I was never enough for my mother, the world, or myself.

I am not the things I’ve done to prove my biggest fears about how undeserving and unworthy I am are true.

I am me, because of my journey and the way my mother loved me. I am awakened to my birthright of worthiness. I am awakened to knowing, without a doubt, I am a miraculous expression of divine love and amazing grace.

My mother taught me that.

A mother is not born in giving birth. She is forged in the crucible of life’s trials and tribulations teaching her with each painful and uncertain step, to become a vessel of love that can never be broken.

It is my mother’s womb that carried me into life. It is her love that could never be broken, no matter how much I found it lacking, wanting or deficient, overwhelming or too needy, it is her love that continues to shine on the path of my life today.

For, though it is her womb that nurtured me into being, it is not the womb that connects and binds us. It is Love.

To all the mothers, however you arrived at the threshold of motherhood, no matter how far the distance between your heart and the ones you love, may you always know how beautiful, special and divinely graced the world is by your presence.

May you know how miraculous you are, in all the radiant beauty of your unique expression of your love. And may you know, deep within you, that the Love you share so selflessly and with such devotion, no matter how it is received or felt or rejected, is exactly the Love the world needs now.