When Motherhood Ends: When One Identity Closes the Door, Another One Opens the Window

I was ushered into the halls of motherhood on a brutal, bloody morning in June 1999— eighteen hours in labor, an emergency C-section, and a six-hour operation to reconstruct my bladder, which was shredded during the first operation by a young doctor at the teaching hospital. 

I wasn’t quite prepared for my childbirth difficulties. Descending from peasants who squatted down in the field to pop out their tenth child, I assumed my kids would also slide out. I never read the C-Section chapter in the childbirth manuals. However, nothing about motherhood was easy for me, even after childbirth scars healed. 

I struggled to combine a career with raising kids. When the second one didn’t hit his speech milestones at age two, I had to fight to support his needs at school and in the community. Self-flagellation over parenting errors in the past never ends. While most of my experiences as a mom was great — I have tens of thousands of pictures of my boys on my computer — I did sometimes envy the freedom of my child-free friends. 

Because of his neurological differences, my son will celebrate his 21st birthday at Harry Potter Land with his parents this Sunday, rather than doing shots with frat brothers. Ian is rather indifferent about his upcoming adulthood and his untraditional path in life. Really, it’s me, who is having all the emotions. 

Read more at Apt. 11D, the Newsletter


4 thoughts on “When Motherhood Ends: When One Identity Closes the Door, Another One Opens the Window

  1. ‘Motherhood was good, but now it’s done, and I’m okay with that. ”

    My mother says, “hah”.

    Of course, the day to day is very very different, but I clearly still think about my kids all the time. Will there be a time when that mental activity decreases?

    I am also having feelings. Twenty one didn’t feel like a big milestone, though the pandemic probably had an impact on that. My feelings are around college graduation which means the end of the 17 year school trajectory (for now, but I don’t think graduate school/professional school is the same). Another mom said she felt it when her kid was employed and said he would by his own Netflix (we haven’t reached that stage yet). It is very weird.

    Have fun celebrating!


  2. Motherhood never ends.

    Milestones: they do their own taxes. They pay for their own health insurance.

    They date total strangers you have never met.


    1. my wife’s line has been: ‘when he switches from his mother buying his underwear to his wife buying it’…


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