Written by Tara Ashcraft
From pregnancy to birth to watching them grow, motherhood is an amazing adventure that many women share with the support of the father. But what about the many women who face all the ups and downs of motherhood alone? In this new 8-part series, blogger Tara Ashcroft reflects on shame, confidence, strength, and learning through the lens of a pregnant college student and young, single mother.
I see you at the stop light of a busy intersection near the center of town. I see your infant carrier in the back seat. Your baby is so tiny, I can’t even see his little feet. I see you anxiously eyeing the rearview mirror. Your eyes frantically move from the backseat to the light ahead and back again.
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It’s just you and him. I see the emptiness taking up room in your car. You’re looking for his breath. For a sign he’s still okay. Did you pull his harness too tight? Is he too hot? Too cold? Is he hungry again? AGAIN?
I know what you are thinking.
Why on Earth would the intelligent and authoritative folks at the hospital let you take this baby home? Shouldn’t you have to pass a test or prove you are baby wise? What if the nurse knew you had never changed a diaper before until today? Would she let you take this little thing home? What if she knew you really despised nursing and that you’ll probably quit within a week? Is that even allowed? What if the doctor knew you didn’t know how long you could afford health insurance? Would he still smile and congratulate you and send you on your merry way?
And, what EXACTLY are you supposed to do with this magnificent creature once you do have him home alone?
Your stack of baby books from the library seem mighty silly now. Not one of them mentioned the terror of actually taking the baby home and keeping him alive and well and happy and quiet. Someone could have warned you that you would actually feel as if you might completely shut down out of the paralyzing fear you feel climbing all over you like Kudzu. Seriously, how could the hospital be so irresponsible as to let you out on your own with a baby—a real life baby?
I see the fear on your face. I see the anxiety in your eyes. I see your furrowed brow and all the stress it stands for. I know you are completely and utterly scared to near immobility.
But I know you. I know that when the light turns green, you’ll go. You’ll keep going. This is the moment of realization that you are The Mom. You are the sole provider of life for the cuddle bug in the back seat. You will do it.
You’ll drive super carefully until you pull into your driveway. You will, with the most ballerina grace you can muster, arrange the awkwardly shaped baby carrier in the crook of your elbow and situate it uncomfortably on your round hip. You’ll make ten trips back and forth to the car to the house to gather all the baby things (you never knew you needed) to keep this sweet pea alive and kicking.
Some days you’ll go at it all alone. Some days your angels will show up and get you through the hard nights and long days. Both will be marked with sweet and glorious moments too. The beauty and pain of this thing called motherhood will take your breath away. Breathe.
You’ll do it. You’ll do it today and tomorrow and as long as you live.
Tara Cargle Ashcraft, MSEC is a change coach inspired by her professional and personal experiences which inform her approach to helping women embrace who they are now and empower them to create the lives they desire for the future. She has over ten years of experience in organizational learning and development. She’s a mom of four completely different kids and one unpredictable cat. She’s equal parts psychology, pom-poms, pixie dust, and pinot. You can find Tara online at: