The Montfort Group

Defining Motherhood

For reasons that keep unfolding, my story continues to matter. And when I tell it, it holds the power to change the narrative of the listener – and that is important work. Defining motherhood is one of those topics that matters.

Motherhood

Today, I am sharing openly about a piece of my story that needs to be told, for my own growth and hopefully to help another. There are times as a therapist, we choose to share our story if we feel it may benefit our client, but, sharing is not always easy, even for us. However, I see too many struggling with the same thing to not use this platform to encourage others and raise awareness to what I refer to as ‘underground motherhood.’

I will begin with an obvious observation. Most of us mothers, no matter the circumstance, feel inadequate at times. Unprepared and unappreciated. Too busy and not doing enough. Overbearing and overindulging. At any given moment – we can feel one or all of these things. However, I want to bring attention to those mothers who struggle especially with guilt and shame. Those mothers who, for one reason or another, feel isolated in their story – where shame and exhaustion have made it difficult to discuss their situation openly.

So here goes nothing – or rather, everything.

My Story

I am the mother of four amazing children. My oldest three are from my first marriage that ended about a decade ago. Currently, I am not their ‘primary parent,’ which means they use their dad’s address for school purposes and stay with me more weekends and during the summer.

There. I said it.

Here come the questions..

What did you do?  Were you on drugs?  Did you have a drinking problem?  Did you give them up willingly?  Did they not want to be with you?  Did you abuse them?

“No” to all of those. But, I have grown very accustom to those questions being asked. Very used to defending myself and trying not to talk for hours about what happened and how unfair I thought it all was. Trying not to be a victim. Trying not to feel shame. And desperately trying not to feel the overwhelming guilt of not being able to control it.  The truth is,  I wanted to leave my marriage and he was angry.  I still struggle with how blind-sighted I was, how dysfunctional the system seemed, how little resources I felt I had, and what enormous price my children had to pay for all of it. 

Back in August of 1999, I first realized the amazing gift of giving birth to a heartbeat that began inside of me, inside the most feminine, magical, and powerful place in the world – a woman’s body. That heartbeat then began to breath and walk outside my body, soon enough – and it grew and took on different shapes and sizes (and attitudes), but make no mistake – it was and still is the same precious heartbeat that I feel insanely connected to and want to nurture and protect until my last day. In fact, I do not know of a more magnetic pull than between a mother and her child. You even notice this throughout the animal kingdom – tired mothers still getting the job done, frustrated mothers still feeding their young, protective mothers willing to risk their own life for their babies. I can say with certainty, as a mother, all of those natural instincts are true for me too.  

So yes, I ache when they are not with me and I was never more devastated than when I learned of the outcome.  It felt like a form of torture that I kept all to myself. Who would understand? Has this ever happened to anyone else?  “Certainly not,”  I told myself.  I now understood the feeling of not wanting to get out of bed, of being uncontrollably angry and of the energy it took to pretend for others and sometimes, even for my children. And I believed the pain was even greater due to the isolation I felt and the stigma that came with the silence.  

Expectations

Since the beginning of time, being a mother has come with a lot of expectation. Mothers are typically the primary caregivers early on, as was I. So, naturally, there have been many professionals over the decades that have linked adult behavior and mental health concerns to pregnancy, early childhood development, etc. We mothers take on an enormous task of being perfect – because we love our children, right?  Additionally, being a mother can be an all-consuming role – one that many women lose themselves to. Often times, it is hard to know when the job starts chipping away at your marriage, your career, your friendships, your health, and even your self. But, I would be hard-pressed to find a mother that would not do it all over again.

Therefore, over the years, I worked hard to be okay.  I decided to harness the incomprehensible to create the inevitable – a new definition of motherhood. I felt forced to reconsider what my children would need, my worth, my life’s purpose, and even my role as a mother. What other choice did I have?  

So, I went to work on learning the importance of showing up, paying attention, speaking my truth, and letting go of the outcome – not just as a mother, but as a therapist, as a partner, as a friend, as a neighbor, and even as a daughter.  There are times it is still difficult to show up and pay attention emotionally, especially if I am still afraid.  And speaking my truth has been a slow process, but I am getting there, even today.  I like to remember one of my favorite quotes by P.C. Hodgell, “That which is destroyed by the truth, should be.”  It is often rolling around in my head when I fear the strength of my truth.  Lastly, letting go of “what happens next” has been, by far, the hardest for me.  Sometimes, every instinct I have, wants to control things around me.  But, I have learned the wisdom of detaching myself from what I think is best and relying on my truth to be enough.

Healing

Telling this story is part of unleashing the story of so many mothers who have gone through or will go through something similar.  The reality is, this is far more prevalent than once was.  The role of parenting in the last decade has shifted dramatically and we need to be open-minded and compassionate to families as they make their transitions, no matter what that looks like.   I also think it is important to remember that we are still mothers. We are involved, courageous, hard-working, loving, attentive, and imperfect mothers who have learned how to let go of the things beyond our control and embrace with meaning and purpose, the things we can control. That part was forced on many of us, but speaking our truth is essential in order to battle the stigma and find comfort in one another.  

I have come to the conclusion, my most influential role as a mother to my children, is to live with courage, dignity, and love – not only towards others, but most importantly, myself.

Contact The Montfort Group in Plano today to see how we can help you define your role.

Cory Montfort, MS, LPC-S

Cory Montfort, MS, LPC-S

I completed my Masters of Science in Counseling from Southern Methodist University where I specialized in working with individuals, couples, and families. I have extensive experience working within the mental health community facilitating groups, conducting assessments, counseling individuals, and performing crisis intervention. I hold an active License in Professional Counseling and am also a board-approved Counselor Supervisor for the state of Texas.

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