Today, in honor of Mother’s Day, contributor Natalie Borton is sharing a special post on how becoming a mom has changed her relationship with her own mother.
Becoming a mom has been the most transformative experience of my life. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, I can say with confidence that it’s changed me for the better in every way, shape and form. There was once a time in my life when I was told I probably couldn’t have children, so I naturally put up a defense and decided that rather than feel like a victim of my circumstances, I’d rather just decide to be childless on my own. In fact, when I married my husband that’s what we agreed to—no kids for us!
Of course, whenever we try to make perfect plans for ourselves they never go the way we expect, and a few years into our marriage I surprised myself and completely changed my mind. Suddenly, babies were all I thought about and I desperately wanted a family bigger than just the two of us. I knew that desire meant opening myself up for heartbreak if I couldn’t get pregnant, but fortunately my body was more fertile than I imagined and I got pregnant pretty much immediately. A pleasant surprise, to say the least, and today I’m a happy mom to a sweet, adventurous, curious 18-month-old boy.
Aside from the joy I experience from being a parent to Jack, one of the most beautiful side effects of motherhood has been the way it’s changed my relationship with my own mom. We were always very close while I was growing up. Like all teen girls and their moms, we had our share of arguments and disagreements, but I can honestly say that—especially because I am an only child—she was one of my best friends who I knew I could always trust, count on and confide in.
Shortly after moving out of the house and going to college, my life took an unexpected turn as I struggled with anorexia (hence the reason why my doctor told me pregnancy could be difficult one day). While I won’t go into too much detail about that, I will say that it absolutely broke my relationship with my mom. We no longer interacted the way we once did. I felt misunderstood. She, no doubt, had no idea how to help me and probably felt powerless and scared.
For almost a decade after my diagnosis, we struggled to restore our relationship to what it once was. And though we’d certainly made a good amount of progress on our own, I can confidently say that becoming a mother myself has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to our relationship. These are a few specific ways things have changed for the better:
- We always have something to talk about. Of course, we could talk about everyday things, but having my son/her grandson in common always gives us a topic to talk about that we’re both very interested in and have a lot to say about. That one small change has deepened our bond profoundly, and also given us a good reason to call or FaceTime regularly. And it’s no surprise that more communication has made us feel closer.
- I now have a better understanding of her life experience. While we grew apart at some point in my late teens, the common ground of motherhood has helped us reconnect in a way that’s even better than it was when I was growing up. Rather than seeing her as just my mom, I now get a peek into what her life was like while she was raising me. Not only does she tell me more stories about what being a mom was like for her, but through becoming a mom myself, I’m also relating to her through the shared experience of motherhood.
- I love seeing her as a grandmother. It has been such a joy to watch my mom become a “Mimi.” She is so over the moon about Jack—it melts my heart! Whether she’s singing songs, playing with blocks on the floor or taking Jack for a walk in the stroller, it’s so amazing to see her nurture and love this person I love so deeply.
- From the moment I first held my son in my arms, I knew my life was changed forever, but I had no idea about the beautiful side effects his birth would bring. My hope is that with each month and year that passes—and even as we possibly add more children to our family one day—my relationship with my mom will continue to strengthen and blossom. What a gift it is to have her in my life!