Today, it’s a pleasure to introduce Jackie who’s sharing her unique journey through motherhood as part of our month-long guest post series, Special Mamas. When I extended an open invitation for guest posts, I assumed this series would attract a certain “type” of person, a certain “type” of writer, a certain “type” of story. So when I received Jackie’s survey indicating interest in writing for the series, I was caught a bit off guard. After a first glance at her story, I wasn’t sure if it was a fit for the Special Mamas series. I promptly contacted Jackie via email, shared my questions and concerns, directed her to my blog vision, and told her I needed a little time to process and make sure this was a fit. Jackie was responsive, respectful, professional, open, honest, and friendly in her communications. Ultimately, I decided that I honored Jackie’s story and was open to her sharing it as part of the series. Having read through Jackie’s post several times now, I suggest you read it slowly and thoughtfully, with an open mind. As far as I can tell, if you miss some key sentences, you may miss the true heart of her story. Jackie’s story may be different than yours. But this is her unique mothering journey, this is her unique experience of life. Please extend a warm welcome to Jackie.
How many special mamas are there who don’t have children or don’t have their children with them?
All good stories start with a once upon a time, don’t they? This one is no different. Once upon a time, I was in my early 40s and I came to admit that my relationship with my daughters’ father had run its course. Many good stories also have villains, heroines and heroes. This one doesn’t. This one is delivered with acceptance of and for all involved.
Making Difficult Decisions
Divorce can be an emotionally charged and highly volatile place often experienced in pain, despair, fear and distrust. Ours certainly was. Both of us made errors of judgement because of our love for our girls. Ironically, that very strong feeling of love pushed us into opposition as we came from a place of fear, and we fought to prove our love was better than the other. This clearly wasn’t love in action. Yet at the time, it seemed to be.
Our girls were caught in the middle of what must have been a frightening and uncertain storm. I could have stopped the storm by doing what I was told to do.
There are choices you must make as a responsible adult to your children. Sometimes these choices are so challenging that you don’t want to make them. I felt both my options were unthinkable and I was stuck, smack bang, between a rock and a hard place and yet, one of these choices had to be made.
These were my options:
forego my own life and soul and in the process inflict my misery on our children.
take the unthinkable steps and let go, allowing them to live a more stable and secure life with their father.
I tried, but couldn’t find a third option. Into the mix I threw thoughts about what’s best for the greater good, for the girls, for my ex. I lay awake for weeks fighting an internal battle. I could feel my heart breaking, the tears pouring down my face, soaking the pillow. I knew there would be consequences whatever I did. The answer eventually came.
Solomon’s Wisdom Held the Key
My guidance came from King Solomon. I remembered the story about two women fighting over who was a baby’s mother. No agreement was going to be reached and so he said he would have the child halved with a sword so they could both have a part. At this point, one lady shouted out, ‘Give the child to her, just don’t kill it.’ Solomon promptly gave the child to the lady who had shouted. He knew that the mother of the child would be willing to let it go in order for it to live.
To many people, I made the wrong choice. I was told that as a mother I owed it to my children to put my life on hold until they left school. If I’d left it till then, I doubt they’d have had a mother.
It took me a long time to get over my guilt and shame of not being what society deems a perfect mother. It took me a long time to get over the pain of the girls belief that I had abandoned them. The girls (who have grown up and attend university) and I now have a good relationship with much love and understanding. I feel certain this will continue to improve as they continue to mature and ask different questions. No question will ever be left unanswered. I don’t ask their forgiveness. It was forgiveness of myself which allowed our relationship to continue.
The Often Hidden Special Mamas
As part of my healing process, I began to ask questions about mothering. It lead me to surprising places and answers. As I researched and interviewed women around the world, I discovered just how different mothering was from being a mother. It became obvious to me that there is no one special mama, nor is there a mama mould from which we are made. This series of posts is highlighting that perfectly. Each of us is different, because as women, as human beings even, we are different.
My experience of mothering began to take on a new form, and a new meaning. There are special mamas at your place of work, in caring environments, in the natural world, in the creative fields, in fact everywhere you look. Each project and work of love delivers a special mama. The women concerned may not be a mother to a child, but they know how to express their mothering wisdom. Mothering is learning that life is natural and cyclical. There’s a time to hold on, and a time to let go – not of the love, but of the creation. So it is as a mother, too.
While all mamas are special, not all are understood, let alone wanted. I used to feel that I was one of those, one of the ‘bad’ ones. I learned that I had to find a way to use my unique mothering wisdom in different ways, with different people and to expand upon my previous beliefs of what mothering was. I learned about the ‘Other Mothers’ we’ve all had and largely ignore – those women whose influence has helped shape us. I’ve learned that mothering is a community effort and there are too many of us who have felt isolated in our own challenges and shame. I have created the antidote, the get-out option so that no mother or daughter has to feel ‘less than’ ever again. That is my special mama offering.
Jackie Walker is the Founder of The Mothering Revolution at themotheringrevolution.com. Her passion is encouraging women to ‘declutter’ their relationship with their own mothers. The Mothering Revolution introduces communities to counteract mothering in isolation, the aim is to recreate the old African saying ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ by reclaiming each woman’s mothering wisdom and unique expression. Find Jackie on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheMotheringRevolution and Twitter at @JackieWalker.
This post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 13 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. At the bottom of the post, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!
Thank you Andrea, it’s a story like many others, which touches the soft spot. A bit like the kids book – Bear Hunt, You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it.
You have told me a bit of your story – but the above feature has had me welling up this afternoon Jackie. Brave and strong you are. xx
You are a brave lady Jackie; both in taking the decisions you took and in sharing your story.
Thank you Amy for having the courage to accept my story, it’s a delight to be featured with all the other Special Mamas