I recently sat down with writer Lisen Stromberg to discuss motherhood, feminism, work, and other big, important topics. Who said what on Facebook that week never once came out of my mouth during the hour we spent together, so that was refreshing. But also, she asked me some questions I had never asked myself.
In interviewing me about my journey from girlhood to motherhood, she touched on something I hadn’t given much thought to before. Did my mother prepare me to have a career? Absolutely. Did my mother prepare me for motherhood? Um. Huh?
My mom and stepmom (and dad) all modeled positive relationships, gobs of affection, and enthusiastic willingness to do all that needs to be done for a child, from preparing endless mac and cheese to hosting creative birthday parties to sitting through long gymnastics meets. So in that way, yes.
Did I see motherhood as a role for which I was studying? No.
Frankly, I did not feel unprepared for motherhood. I felt very prepared, planned, and ready. (That doesn’t mean I found breastfeeding easy, by the way.) What I had not given any thought to was the logistics of working and having a baby who did not have his own job to go off to every morning. Somehow, I hadn’t considered what would happen at 7 am each day once my maternity leave was over. I didn’t have a clear picture of life with baby. When I finally realized my baby would be lounging around all day, not knowing how to feed himself or use words, was the first time I understood stay-at-home motherhood. It was not a thing I had seen growing up, nor aspired to as a young working adult.
What my mom certainly prepared me for was being responsible for myself. To work, save, and spend sensibly. To take care of my body. To surround myself with good friends, find mentors, learn on the job, avoid parking tickets, use birth control, present myself well to the outside world. Is there a more specific way she could have prepared me to take care of someone else?
I know everyone has a different experience. Do you think your family helped prepare you for motherhood as much as for other aspects of adulthood? Do you plan to prepare your children for parenting? Or is that even possible?
photo of my mom buckling my shoes, from my wedding: Kirsten Hepburn