Motherhood breaks down a woman’s pride fairly quickly. Parenting will do the rest.
Your body will strip your pride in pregnancy before you realise how powerful it really is.
I’m lucky enough to only seriously experience morning sickness with my last pregnancy. Having two placentas means insane levels of HCG which will make you feel like your thyroid is out to get you. Specifically, it was terrible nausea and frequent vomiting, a racing heartbeat, severe weakness and weight loss.
Being sick for no obvious reason is specifically humbling. Vomiting out of your car window and continuing on your commute is a bit hard to do with your head held high, but I managed. Dry heaving because someone took a bath in their perfume is uncomfortable enough, but it’s also insulting to the person who now knows they stink. In pregnancy, bladder control can be iffy and gas happens much more often with the relaxed muscles of pregnancy. Hormonal changes can mean your body is creating a whole new brand of funk. Breasts will swell, then sag. That mom walk that feels confident starts to sway into a waddle because my center of gravity is constantly shifting. A grocery run with mild hunger becomes an indulgent pregnancy craving smorgasbord, complete with odd and indulgent smiles from strangers.
Giving birth and seeing the life created and growing in you is one of those powerful moments that really does make it all worth it in the end.
Strangers will claim ownership of your body.
I’ve had strangers guess the sex of the children in my belly. I’ve had them question my sanity over carrying so many children (8 and 9 growing as I type). I’ve had strangers reach out to touch my belly. They’ll critique and judge your parenting at all ages and stages because even if they aren’t the community helping you raise your child, they’ll expect being in public makes you subject to their judgement and opinions.
*Side note on belly touching: If you are on a date and touch a belly without consent, you’re being rapey. Really, at 20 weeks, the highest part a baby reaches is mom’s belly button (still mom’s body). Any time before this, you pat that area, and you’re touching my intestines. Even if lunch was epic, my bowels don’t need the encouragement, and if you’re going to reach lower to actually touch my uterus, I would hope for dinner first. Maybe flowers. Jewelry is always encouraged. When they start kicking, I’m likely to encourage the touching and show you exactly where my belly is going alien outtakes on us both.
Your children will change your pride perception.
Littles are sweet, but they will embarrass you. They’ll stink, and cry at the wrong times. They’ll puke on clothes not meant to experience spit up. They’ll make you into living zombies. They are so cute and helpless that you’ll put up with it and continue to try to make them into humans others would want to be around.
They will find their voice and repeat favorite and inappropriate phrases. I remember my little one saying “fuck you” to someone when my mom took him to church. They each went through phases where they learned the fastest way to hurt mom was to tell me that they hated me. They took the one fear they had, of rejection and not being acknowledged and turned it into a weapon against bedtime and desired activities. I had to push past that pain and by the third child, it was hard not to laugh at such pint sized rebellion. (Even on his worst day, my youngest is not capable of doing what his autistic brothers did in search of self regulation.)
They’ll get older and rather than say they hate you, they’ll try to convince you that you really don’t love them. They’ll need more reassurance that they are loved and valued. You’ll learn in that first game of tic-tac-toe, that it’s really not fun to beat the pants off of the kid you just taught to play.
Being prideful means you aren’t being compassionate and that isn’t the most connected way to parent. In my home, I’m frequently wrong and sometimes I lose my shit. I try to always apologize to my kids. I acknowledge the ways I was wrong. I ask for their feedback and make communication safe. Sometimes they’ll call me out before I see what I’ve done. I don’t get to always be right because that would mean I’m wrong. Sometimes I have to listen to well meaning grandparents, even if that brings out the rebellious teenager in me.
With my teenagers it’s hard to remember that they aren’t grown men. I have to be intentional with reminding myself that they are still the sweet and sensitive boys that look to me when things are scary and painful. I have to ignore their size and their attitudes and the ways they remind me of their father. I have to be the one to come to them, over and over and likely into adulthood. I think of the times older friends and my parents will talk about not being called, forgetting that the phone works both ways. My mom is great with checking on me several times a week and I hope hers is an example I never forget.
You can’t be prideful and parent at the same time. At least I don’t think I could. You learn with your kids and pride assumes you know all there is for them to teach you, forgetting that the lessons never end, even into adulthood.