Me, Motherhood, and a Wise Woman by Julie Wheaton & Patrece Powers (Book Excerpt)

She makes it look so easy.

She looks so together.

She has a clean house.

She has a nanny.

She doesn’t spend enough time with her kids.

She spends too much time with her kids.

She doesn’t need to work.

She is so smart.

She is so creative.

She has a husband who helps with the kids.

She is having an affair.

She volunteers for everything.

She is in great shape.

She is a control freak.

She doesn’t even know where her kids are.

For each statement, a different woman comes to mind, proving once and for all that “she” doesn’t exist. “She” is a reflection of me. Criticism takes root when I pay more attention to images and concepts than I do to my intuition and to what resonates internally as truth.

Patrece reminds me that, “More often than not, people show us only what they want us to see and tell us only what they want us to hear. We then make comparisons with other mothers, their children, and their lifestyles. However, let’s not tire ourselves into believing that we know enough about another to judge who is better than and who is lesser than. We are still getting to know our own mothering ways. We don’t know for others.”

When I have a strong reaction to a choice that another mom is making, I try to pause long enough to unravel my emotions. What’s missing in my life, such that I feel threatened by a choice she is making for herself?

Perhaps I lack confidence in an area where she shines. Or maybe, I’m trying to make sense of a choice that wouldn’t make sense for where I am right now.

When I’m tempted to criticize, I remind myself that I’m seeing only a slice of another mom’s life. (I wouldn’t want to be judged solely by some of my slices!) Behind my criticism, I often find confusion. And when I’m confused, it’s tempting to focus on something outside myself. When I do that, life sometimes will grant me a set of circumstances similar to the ones I’m criticizing, so I can gain clarity and perspective.

Says Patrece, “Be the woman you are scared to be. You may be doing the same thing as ‘she’ is, but your intention is different.” ˜


Maybe I shouldn’t have had kids.

“I remember going to playgroups when Betsy was a toddler,” said a friend of mine. “I felt so lonesome because everyone just talked about how great it all was. No one ever brought up the difficulties. It feels good just to express that feeling of not always enjoying motherhood.”

Patrece reminds me that, “Children need parents to be examples of authentic human beings, people who live as true to themselves as possible. We need that from ourselves, too. Authenticity happens moment by moment, as we give our love and attention to what truly matters to us.

“When we are authentic, children sense in us a certain confidence that comes from an unspoken place. They know they can say something, and we won’t take it personally. From day one, children are observing us and learning to survive by understanding what is acceptable or unacceptable.

“Life is not a dress rehearsal. We make our choices, and we live them out. Like one TV commercial says, ‘Having a baby changes everything.’ Allow those changes to occur. The point of any experience is to cycle through it and integrate what you need from it.

“You wanted children, then you had them, and now you think, What if I hadn’t had children? You would’ve missed the experience. The truth is that you didn’t want to go on living without having children. Do you honestly believe that, without children, you would’ve become the same person as you are now? We all change.”


How do I get my life back?

After each of my babies, I assumed I’d be the same person I was before. And yet, I knew how I felt around women who had become mothers but seemed determined not to change. Patrece calls this, “extending a role beyond its time.”

She says, “Imagine an eighty-year-old woman dressing like a teenager. You’ve changed. Let yourself play catch-up. Give yourself over to the first three months. Admit you’re not the same person you were before the baby and that you won’t be ever again and that you don’t even want to be. The choice to have a child has permanently changed your life.

“This is not an in-between time from where you were to where you are going. You can’t go back to who (you think) you were or forward to who (you think) you’re going to be. When you allow yourself to become a mother, growing into and creating a new self, you have a much easier time. You don’t come from a place of expectation and demand. Rather, you focus on intuition and observation. In developing awareness, you become more confident.

“Part of the frustration of the first few weeks or months is that you’re trying to be a mother as your former self. That self is gone. She has a child now and the choice of growing into a mother or not.”

My family and I live in Southern California a few miles from the beach. At first, I blamed our recent move for why I hadn’t taken the kids to the beach. We were getting settled, I told myself, and didn’t have all of our beach gear organized.

What was truly keeping me from taking three kids to the beach was the preparation involved. I would need to pack a playpen, towels, a beach chair, toys, hats, sunscreen, bodyboards, fins, drinking water, and a cooler with lunch and snacks. To me, all of this effort implied that we should stay at the beach for a while.

Then I realized that we didn’t have to stay for long. The kids just wanted to go to the beach. I was applying a mother-of-one approach to a mother-of-three scenario. As a mother of one, I had fewer items to pack, and I could plan around my one child’s schedule. As a mother of three, I have more to bring and four people in the comfort equation. Growing into being a mother of three has meant that I’m less attached to outcomes and more aware of doing things for as long as they are enjoyable.

I remember a time when I wanted to exercise first thing in the morning. Michael thought this was a great idea, so he agreed to cook breakfast and get the kids off to school. Our arrangement lasted two weeks, after I started criticizing what Michael was making for school lunches and pointing out that the kids were going to school in dirty clothes. The truth was I missed seeing the kids in the morning. I returned to my routine with more clarity about how and when I want to participate.

Patrece says, “That’s the only methodology we have. Make a choice, and then observe the results in yourself—not as an outcome but as how you felt doing it. Do you like yourself doing it?”

To order…

About the Authors

Julie (left) is a writer and editor who lives with her family in Southern California, where she is at work on her next book.

Patrece (right) has been a wife, mother, business owner, educator, community activist, and consultant. She involves herself wholeheartedly and lives with the self-containment and confidence of a remarkable human being human.

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