A resource to inspire, inform and empower parents.

Surrender

By Melody Fetterman

A great deal of my pregnancy was spent anticipating birth. I was afraid of it for a long time, for most of the time. Luckily, my fears dissolved as I neared the end of my pregnancy and I felt peace. And though my son’s birth was not silent or simple, it was peaceful in its own way. I remember it as a storm. The lightning contractions, the thunderous moaning, the sounds so loud that the world seemed quiet. And then, just as a storm ends, it was over. My son was born.

The time I spent preparing for birth, in many ways trumped the time spent preparing for motherhood. How does one prepare for motherhood anyway? I still don’t know. What I do know is that I did not find any of my birth preparation to be a waste. In a sense, it was preparation for motherhood. Certainly I wasn’t learning techniques to bathe a newborn, but I was learning self-control. I was learning discipline, to trust my body, to trust my instincts. Each of these lessons have served me well during motherhood.

Melody breastfeeding her baby.

But the biggest lesson I learned was to surrender. Fighting contractions was a useless endeavor. To tense away only prolonged the labor. I had to focus, to really focus. “Just release, ride the wave, let them come”. I think a good deal of active labor was spent with my eyes closed, hardly aware of those around me.

I can’t speak for you, but when I think of the word “surrender”, I can’t help but pair it with negative connotations. To surrender is to lose control, to admit defeat. And so far, this is motherhood.

Depressing, right?

Wrong.

So often peace is sought through conflict and sometimes necessarily so. I think this is a fairly common approach to parenthood – the disciplinarian. I won’t even pretend to be an expert on parenting, but I can’t help but question how an exertion of total control leads to anything but dissension. We see real-world examples of that all the time.

Too often surrender is seen as weakness, as an admission of loss. But I believe and have found that surrender has an immediate consequence of peace. To surrender as a method of parenting does not mean to shift power to the child. I do not follow my son around as a cowering dog. I do not let him fulfill his every whim and want. But I do choose my battles. I do try to discern a need from a want, and to dissect an outburst for what it really is – an expression of discomfort. Sometimes discomforts are worth comforting.

Melody and her son.

For me, surrendering as a mother means putting my sons needs before my own. I’m not even close to perfecting this, but it is something I will continually strive for. That’s the only promise I can make Noah – that I will keep trying. See, when I surrendered to my contractions, I was also surrendering to the coming years of motherhood. This wild storm of being a mom is full of emotions, some harder to handle than others.

But I surrender. This is who I am. This is what I want. I want my son to see it. I want to set an example of positive surrender. I want him to see that giving in does not always mean giving up. Sometimes surrender just means finding peace. And that’s not a defeat, that’s a victory.

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