Mothering By Faith

Emmalee pulled another mug from the cabinet and poured more coffee. She handed it to Cora. “Can I ask you a question? But you got to promise to be honest with me, even if it means hurting my feelings.”

Cora nodded and took a sip from the mug. “Sure.”

“It’s just that you know so much about babies and mothering, and I was wondering if you think I can take care of a baby on my own?”

“Of course you can, sweetie,” Cora said, sitting her mug on the counter and reaching for Emmalee’s hand. “But you ain’t alone.”

Emmalee brushed away another tear.

~from The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Mothering By FaithDo any of us really know if we can take care of a baby on our own?

Eighteen years into motherhood, and I still find myself asking that question on a regular basis.

Motherhood, for many women, is the ultimate mission in their lives. It is the transcendent goal they strive for, feeling that with the birth experience complete, their lives will somehow magically fall into place.

Many of my friends carefully planned motherhood. Some wanted to be young mothers, feeling that if they were able to give birth in their early twenties that they would be ‘young enough’ to enjoy their children – I’m sure some felt their youthful bodies could more easily survive childbirth and keep up with active toddlers. Numerous girlfriends, like me, chose the college and career path first, deciding that the stability of accomplishment would surely be the golden ticket for a successful parenting experience. I was confident that if I took care of myself first, I would be well-equipped to deal with the uncertainties of mothering.

Some women I know simply tumbled into motherhood, like many experiences in their lives, without any inkling of how they got to that place where they had to choose between what was right and best for their child, and what felt right and best for themselves. I have friends who have endured the torment of infertility, their bodies battling against every maternal instinct they feel, only to end in crumpled dreams and a reconfiguration of self. And I know women who calculate the ticking of the biological clock, never having cast their bet at deliberate conception but feeling each second tick by in real time, sure that if it doesn’t happen soon, it never will.

There is a certain sense of possibility in the unknown. The first moment our child is placed upon our chest is glutted with possibility and hope. We feel powerful, exhilarated, and terrified all at once, knowing that life as we knew it before has forever altered. Our insecurities, our inadequacies, and our aspirations pile into the six pounds of sticky, squirmy flesh that has suddenly become ours alone to nurture for a lifetime. And we wonder, can we do this? Are we enough? How will we know when they ________ or __________ what to say? To do?

And somewhere along the way, we realize the secret. We hear the words of those wiser than we, words that remind us that we all we really need to do is practice mothering by faith.

“Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it”― James Baldwin

We realize that we are not alone, that all those mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers that have come before us have set the course for that pocket-sized little person we cradle in our arms. We realize that we carry with us in the very center of our soul everything we need to take care of this baby on our own. We realize, that if we stop long enough to peer right into our hearts, that we really do know the answers.

We become conscious of ourselves. We exude the instincts bred into us. We wear the crown proudly, sometimes pausing to push it back into place when it teeters precariously, or drop to our knees to scrape it up off the ground when it falls.

But we smile broadly at our child, feeling every bit the queen of the world. We trust. We are mothers. We CAN do this. We are not alone.

We are mothering by faith.

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” ― Margaret Drabble

 No one has ever entrusted impoverished Emmalee with anything important but she takes it upon herself to sew her mentor’s resting garment in The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore. Join From Left to Write on October 15 as we discuss The Funeral Dress.  As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes. 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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21 thoughts on “Mothering By Faith

  1. bit.ly says:

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  2. Thien-Kim says:

    Love this. I think the scariest thing about being a new mom is not knowing. But we do have it in us!
    Thien-Kim recently posted…Comment on Blogalicious 2013 Book Smarts Panel Recap by MrsTDJMy Profile

    1. Oh yes we do, Kim. Deep, deep inside our beings I think we know what we need to do…but sometimes doing it is the hardest part! Thanks for commenting-Jennifer

  3. Great post! I agree, no matter how prepared we think we are, there is always something to throw us off our game. We do the best for our children, but that doesn’t mean it is easy or that we feel at ease.
    Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly’s recently posted…The Funeral Dress: Thoughts on MotherhoodMy Profile

    1. So true, Kelly. And that seems to continue into teenage years, where we are now. I’ve learned not to assume anything, and just try to be as present as possible all the time. Thanks for commenting today! ~Jennifer

  4. Melanie RG says:

    That quote is one of my favorite passages from the book. Great post!
    Melanie RG recently posted…Sewing A Dress in My MindMy Profile

    1. Thank you! The quote jumped out at me as I read, and I was sure I would write about it. So glad to meet you here! ~Jennifer

  5. Like you, I did the college, grad school, job route – I own my own business, and it is like my baby right now. We are trying for a real baby, but no luck yet. I’ve had so many people tell me it’s just stress impeding my ability to conceive. Which is frustrating – I’ve done everything exactly as people advised, only to find that the life I’ve created for myself might be the thing holding me back from becoming a mother.
    Jessica Peyton (@AimHighPeyton) recently posted…Student Loans, Beer Pong, and Campus Food: A Reluctant Book Review      My Profile

    1. Jessica, I feel your conflict…and hope that you are blessed with motherhood. Today’s woman has so many challenges. I know that what you’re going through must be agonizing…take care. Thanks so much for commenting. ~Jennifer

  6. Susan Gregg Gilmore says:

    Beautiful message – we parent on the shoulders of our ancestors – thank you for sharing this!

    1. Susan, you’re very welcome! And thank YOU for writing such a fabulous book! I loved every bit of The Funeral Dress!

  7. […] Jennifer Wolfe at mamawolfe reflects on motherhood. […]

  8. […] my attention and kept me up late for a few nights-I couldn’t get through the story of love, motherhood, and marriage fast enough. Can’t wait for her next […]

  9. Ricardo says:

    These are truly fantastic ideas in about blogging. You have
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    Ricardo recently posted…RicardoMy Profile

    1. Randi says:

      That’s an ininegous way of thinking about it.

      1. Thanks for commenting, Randi – glad you enjoyed it.

  10. […] spend my days teaching, my early mornings and late evenings writing, and mothering all the way […]

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