The Art of Surrender for Mothers by Leta Hamilton
During those years of our lives we call “motherhood,” the act of surrender begins from the very moment of conception. Whether or not we have been able to naturally conceive, nature chronicles a list of events over which our minds have little or no control. What we want and what we receive are not always the same. Take my current pregnancy, for example.
Like any responsible married couple, my husband and I have always taken family planning seriously. I started out our marriage on the pill until we felt ready to enter the world of parenting. Then I had our first child (a son) and went back on birth control until we were ready for the next one. That did not turn out to be so easy. Almost 3 years and a miscarriage later, we finally did have that second baby (another son). Next there came an impromptu pregnancy that really did not fit into the “responsible parenting” category. We played with fire and our third son is the outcome. He’s cute and we love him, but we thought, “Three really is a lot. Let’s stop while we are ahead.”
Enter the vasectomy. My husband very willingly had this procedure to keep the number of children to three. Two years later, I was wondering why I seemed to be gaining weight when I was jogging every day and eating a very healthy diet. The lack of menstrual cycles had an excuse in the fact that I was still breastfeeding our 2 year old. The sore nipples were chalked down to his teeth. My head was buried deeply in the sand until I started feeling the butterfly movements of a fetus.
Why is it that I am pregnant again with a fourth child (another son) when some women are unable to conceive even once? The physical reasons for this do not diminish the fact that in birth and parenting, life can seem awfully unfair. The act of surrender reveals itself to be the only alternative when faced with circumstances that are not of our conscious choosing. I have had to surrender my feelings about having a fourth child, my career as an author and radio show host and many other ideas onto which I clung about my family and life.
Letting go of what we “wanted” to embrace what is, is an art. It takes practice. It takes time. Over the last 2 months, I have learned to surrender this pregnancy, this new baby, this unexpected new direction in our family life and so much more because, quite frankly, I really did not have another choice. This baby wants to be here. It chose us for his parents and it kept really quiet until there was no turning back. Other options like surrogacy and adoption do not feel like choices. It is our baby and we will welcome him into the fold.
What occurs for each of us will be unique to the individual circumstances of our lives. However, to surrender all that we are unable to control or manipulate is a universal movement for which we can support and embrace. I cannot explain into fairness why I am “blessed” with a child that was not planned (in fact, was proactively planned against!) and another woman is unable to have even one child. What I can do is ask friends and family to understand my feelings of reservation and spend a certain amount of time each day in quiet meditation to emotionally let go of all my previous expectations so that there is room for what is really happening.
Surrender allows us to be grateful for the things happening in our life, no matter how unfair it may seem on the surface. It is all a learning experience. This pregnancy is teaching me the art of surrender. With an effort that follows conscious realization that there are things over which I am powerless, I can let go of previously adopted notions about who and what I am “supposed” to be in this world and, instead, embrace the me that is here right now writing these words.
I am big. I am overwhelmed at the thought of having another baby. I am scared. I am also incredibly fortunate to have a husband who loves me, 3 beautiful sons who will adore their new baby brother and an extended network of family and friends upon whom I can rely during the intervening years of parenting a house of testosterone! It is what it is. Surrender has, by necessity, become an art at which I am gratefully adept.
Leta Hamilton is mom to 3 boys with another on the way (possibly a girl this time?) and host of the parenting radio show “The Way of the Toddler Hour.” She teaches simple techniques for practicing inner peace in the midst of poopy diapers and piles of laundry to moms groups across the Seattle area. Her book The Way of the Toddler is an honest look at the craziness of modern motherhood and the spiritual lessons we learn from kids. More information about Leta, her radio show and upcoming guests can be found at www.letahamilton.com.