Often in Life, there are few things that we can talk about with absolute certainty. Life changes and flows, grows and stretches its hands in new ways all the time. If there is anything in Life that is certain, it is that everything is uncertain. Yet I have been lucky to find that the certainty my Life is that I was meant to be, no, born to be a caregiver. Yes, I was that young girl who hoarded baby dolls and treated each of them with care. When my brother was born, I was elated. Why wouldn’t I be? My mother had just given birth to a real-life baby doll, and he was all mine to take care of. My mom called me his ‘little mama,’ and the older I grew, the more true it became. Being 6 years older, I never felt that we ‘grew up together.’ With such an age gap I was constantly the caregiver, something I of course never minded. At age 10 I yelled at the other kids for playing too rough with him, as he was smaller and kind of babyish compared to other kids his age. At age 13 I was excited to pick him up from after school care and walk, hand-in-hand, the two blocks back home. By age 16 I was full-on chauffeur, taking him to and from taekwondo practice while I studied in the corner, preparing for college admissions.
But he wasn’t my only ‘baby.’ At the ripe old age of 11, I had taken the American Red Cross Babysitter’s class offered at my community rec center. I learned how to change a diaper, perform basic first aid, and keep small children entertained safely. Armed with this knowledge and a piece of paper to prove it, I started my first babysitting business, watching kids in my neighborhood at $3.50/hr. Fast forward through high school years, a failed semester of art school, an attempt at an education degree, and I stand before you as a full-time nanny, and aspiring postpartum doula.
Ladies and gentlemen, if I am certain of nothing else in this world, I am certain that I was put here to act as a caregiver. To help, to heal, to care for and to nurture. I was meant to be your shoulder to cry on, your legs when you are weak, your voice when you feel small. Also, I love babies. I was born to be a mother, but not just for my own children, or even just children at all. I find purpose, passion, and joy mothering newly born mothers.
I use this term ‘newly born’ mother because I have the utmost respect for the impact that pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum have on a woman. A woman in labor is not just giving birth to a child, she is also breathing life into a new version of herself. She is a newly born mother. Not that becoming a mother strips your identity down and labels it MOM forevermore, even it feels like it sometimes. Of course you are still yourself; with all your favorite foods and colors and smells, but I have yet to meet a mother who was not deeply impacted by the birth of their children, so much so that they saw a change deep within themselves.
Motherhood is like nothing else. It is amazing and special and awe-inspiring, and even though everyone says these things, I’m going to say them again, because the words ring so true. Though I have yet to experience motherhood myself, I know that it was meant for me. But, the more I studied, the more enraged that I became that not everyone respected motherhood as much as I did. Who were these people to tell mothers that 6 weeks maternity leave was adequate time to let the mothers rest and recuperate? Who in their right minds would have the audacity to tell a mother than if she doesn’t exclusively breastfeed her child, something terrible will happen to her baby, and she is less of a mother for doing so. And don’t even get me started on the poor mothers who think they have to do it all on their own. Thinking they have to clean the house, prepare thank you notes, send the birth announcements, feed the baby, change the baby, shower and look presentable, lose the baby weight right away, and get back to work in just a matter of weeks. Ladies, where is the support?
The sisterhood of motherhood is not a made-up concept, and I know this to be true because of the countless playdates I have been declined for being ‘just the nanny.’ Now, that’s a whole other essay for another day,but the point is that there’s this sense of bonding over having children, yet there’s not always the support to back it up. Beyond providing my own assistance for mothers, I also teach others the best ways to provide their own support. This means telling the partners when and how to offer help within those first few harrowing weeks of having a child. ‘Help’ is not asking ‘how can I help?’ and expecting a well-thought out answer from your sleep-deprived wife in return. Partners, take notes. Help is taking the initiative to throw a load of laundry in the wash, put the clean dishes away, or bring mom some water while she breastfeeds. Lots of my support for new mothers comes in the form of caring for the baby for an hour or so while mom takes a much-needed shower or nap.
But sometimes it’s deeper than that. Sometimes mom needs someone to talk to. Someone who understands how difficult those first few weeks are. Someone to tell her she’s not completely crazy, even if her raging hormones convince her otherwise. Like I’ve said, I was meant to be this person. Nothing excites me more than having a front row seat to a mother’s first moments with her newborn. Whether those moments be in tears of sadness, frustration, confusion, or pure joy, I’m there with you through it all.
I was born to mother, and to be a mother. Until my time comes, I use my calling and passion to nurture new mothers. At such a vulnerable time in their lives, I hope to be a woman they look to for guidance and reassurance, for comfort and compassion. I’ve been called an old soul, and I believe it’s true. I’ve been here before, and I know what I’m meant to do. If you’ve just become a mother, let me mother you.
Hope you enjoyed, friends! This post was written as a submission to the ‘Listen to Your Mother- Austin’ show. I have recently been called back for a second audition for a chance to perform in their live show! this series travels across the country and gives moms the opportunity to go and listen to other stories of motherhood. To learn more about the show, visit their website here.