When I graduated from college, I had to choose someone to walk behind me during the ceremony and carry my “hood.” At the precise moment, these individuals would be called to place the hood over our head marking our place as a graduate. My mother was given this honor as I felt that she had seen me to this place and I knew that she would help me to move forward. It was a powerful metaphor and a right of passage that helped to mark a moment.

As I’ve noticed moving forward in life, most changes aren’t marked by such a tangible action. Instead in adult life you rely on your people to help you mark moments in time. Nothing has felt like it deserved this type of action more than my entrance to motherhood and yet it’s marked by very little. Leaky breasts and hormone shifts. Left to figure out who you are without the presence of a village or a red tent. So as my little sister has been making her way through pregnancy I’ve been wracking my brain of ways to explain motherhood, to prepare her to mark this for her in a way that I wish it had been marked for me.

And it’s been hard.

I want to hear her experiences and as she tells me and my heart bursts to retroactively connect to her about my experiences carrying my girls…but it isn’t my time. It’s her’s.

I want to prepare her for the almost constant joy and grief that will consume her that will surge through her soul…but I can’t. Because you can’t.

I want to tell her that her complete control over situations will not just disappear, it will explode but that it will make her stronger. But I won’t. And she wouldn’t believe me totally even if I did.

I want to make sure she knows that even when she feels broken that she isn’t. That’s just her atoms being rearranging to make space for this type of love. And that she will emerge stronger and with a fierceness that can’t be anticipated.

But most of all I want her to know that I will walk this road with her. I will lift her up. I will hold her hand. I’ll cry with her. I’ll laugh with her. That when she is ready I will walk behind her and at the right moment I will place the Mother Hood upon her and welcome her with all that I have.

Written by Mara Watts. Mara Watts is a Resident in Counseling in Fairfax, and a PMAD survivor and warrior. She’s leading PSVa’s efforts to educate maternal child healthcare providers in Northern Virginia and throughout the state, and is also PSVa’s liason to the INOVA Health System. 

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