Half of a #WholeMama? The weird transition from Mommy to Mother

By Amanda Cleary Eastep

My 18-year-old and I lay in the grass taking Instagram selfies (which I liken to showing vacation “slides” to the entire world).

This youngest daughter returned to my arms recently after five months away, two of those in N. Africa. She wanted to show off her armpit hair, which is not nearly as impressive as it was last year when we finally convinced her it would ruin her brother’s wedding.

Meg sleep

“C’mon, Mama, show your pits.”

It was enough for me to be lying prone with no makeup beneath the unforgiving light of the setting sun and wondering how stepping out onto yet another social media platform would benefit my writing career.

“I can’t show my armpits, I’m trying to build a business.”

I posted this photo (sans pits) with the hashtag wholemama, a cool initiative started by one of my favorite writers, Esther Emery.

Me and Meg

Most of the women who gather beneath the #wholemama tent for Twitter parties and Fuze meetings are young moms. With three grown kids and five stepkids, I’m about 20+ jumps to the right of these women on the number line.

But there I am, finding community online. Not quite like the days of sitting in the backyard with my best friend watching our little girls argue and admonishing them to “use their words” to “figure it out.”

My elder daughter assures me she will always have her divot in the couch cushion, while my psychologist son diagnoses me with empty nest syndrome and something that ends in “ism” or “obia.”

Maybe so. Maybe as a mother you don’t feel quite as whole any more when your favorite appendages decide to do crazy things like travel to Africa or go to college or get married. Whatever.

And maybe you feel exposed, too.

I recently noticed the back of my arms in a dressing room mirror while trying on my mother-of-the-groom gown and promptly scurried home to start curling bulk-sized cans of baked beans. All that gray hair they say you “earned”? I would rather have earned a tighter butt.

You’re left wondering who you are now in this final transition from Mommy to Mother. Less like a beautiful butterfly emerging from a cocoon and more like a vulnerable cicada leaving its mirror-image hard shell clinging to some brick in the wall.

But those things have wings, too. They unfurl and extend them just like a butterfly, testing their strength and the breeze before taking off in a new direction.

Hands

Next post in the series: When Your Power Ain’t So Super, Woman

This post is part of Esther Emery’s #wholemama blog challenge on “wholeness” and “shalom.” Read more from some of the other wonderful women speaking into these themes.

Whole Mama
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24 thoughts on “Half of a #WholeMama? The weird transition from Mommy to Mother

  1. Oh, I’m so glad to have your voice here Amanda. I carry a lot of fear about the next step – I love have littles and worry about what happens when they grow up and leave me – there’s so much love here I could burst some days, will it all leave too? But thank you for this reminder, that there is still life and growth and beauty ahead. Love it.

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    1. The love seems to become more of a choice as they grow and mature; they chose to befriend, chose to honor, chose to forgive you. Not the wild abandon love but maybe more so the kind that means they would love you even if you weren’t their mother.

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  2. I love hearing from mamas who have been there and done that. it adds so much depth to our conversation and fullness to our understading of how motherhood is a season that changes constantly. So glad to join you here and to meet you and a couple of your kids on fuze the other night! 🙂

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  3. I love everything about this! Your genuine voice…my husband said over the weekend that arm pit hair is trendy now and informed me that I’m officially a trend setter (not that I was trying); and while this online writer’s retreat isn’t actually about our arm pits, I’m excited to have an opportunity to share all the things that make each of us a #wholemama. I’m thankful for this connection. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Rose! So (just to be polite) I asked my daughter after the fact if it was OK that I had shared this story with the world. She was disappointed I didn’t use the pit photo. Maybe I haven’t stressed certain boundaries enough with her. 🙂 I love that your husband knew about the trend.

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  4. Amanda! I love your voice! It’s so funny to feel like I know you because you’re so supportive of me, but I had no idea how sharp and individual and articulate YOUR writing voice is. I could listen to you all day. Also, I’m so glad you’re hanging out with us. Like Cara said, we NEED you.

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  5. Amanda, I love this post. I totally get what you mean with that transition from mommy to mother! 🙂 My married daughters call me Mom or Mommy or Momsie. I love it all. I think this #WholeMama is a beautiful thing where older moms and younger moms can find ways to connect and encourage each other. I’m with Jamie; I’d totally like to meet you one day! It was great to sort of meet on the call last night. 🙂 I love this – “But those things have wings, too. They unfurl and extend them just like a butterfly, testing their strength and the breeze before taking off in a new direction.” That’s just how I feel as I branch out into different areas.

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    1. Thanks so much, Gayl. I really think what Esther started is a wonderful thing that could grow or morph or turn into an amazing writers’ retreat or inspire a lot of people to go their own way, too. I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone more and inviting others to read and connect.

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  6. This post took me back, when our children step into the adult world they seem to have it all figured out. When Barbie started collage she informed me she was grown and now was Barb, sure thing Barbie, got it. Today as a mother of three herself she calls me mommy and she has always been Barbie and still is. Nick still and I laugh treats me like he has all the answers and that is fine, When it gets to be more than I can handle I turn and tell him, your dad and I had sex! Shuts him up every time and he leaves the room. Peace at last. He is a good son yet is so Oldenburg. My Dad had seven brothers and the one that yelled the loudest won the argument, Nick yells the loudest so he comes by that naturally. Look for another change when they become parents you will love it. You have some wonderful children.

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  7. Your authenticity is a breath of fresh air. You truly embody shalom. I totally want to meet you and there will be hugs if you’re cool with that. 😉 I am so, so, so glad you are part of this.

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    1. Totally cool with hugs. I would love to meet irl. It has been an amazing year for me of connecting with other writers! And you’ll notice I wasn’t so authentic as to share the armpit shot. 🙂 I’m honored to be taking part in #wholemama with all of you. Esther has really inspired and fed my soul these past several months since finding her.

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