Christian Krohg, Young Woman on a Bench (cropped). via Wikimedia Commons

For Mother's Day the US website Women Speak For Themselves ran a contest for women to write to other women about why not to fear motherhood. WSFT got 140 entries and awarded the following one first place. The three runners-up will be published here during the rest of this week.

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Dear Hesitant Future Mother,

I’ve been there. The youngest of four children, I had very little experience with kids except for my nieces and nephews. And, trust me, I wasn’t that fun aunt they couldn’t wait to see or begged to have sleepovers with. I just existed… across the room… unsure how to interact with them.

Honestly, kids terrified me and I was convinced they could smell my fear like a wild animal about to attack its prey. While pregnant with my first child I confided my reservations to my older brother explaining how I wasn’t good with kids. I never knew how to talk to them, they made me nervous, and I worried I’d never feel comfortable. He assured me it would be different with my own, and my inner voice lamented how desperately I hoped that would be true.

Fast forward six short years and I’m now an experienced mother of four. Turned out I liked the first one so much I couldn’t stop. So, yes, my brother was right. However, I have found not so much that “it” is different with my own children; but that I’m different. With each new human I had the honor of ushering into this world I became a far better person in every area of my life.

I also became much more confident, as each of my kids have shown me how horribly short I was selling myself. We are capable of great things, and no self-help book or career accomplishment will aid a woman in discovering her capabilities as greatly as having a child will.

Unfortunately, kids get a bad rap. There are memes covering your social media feed telling you they’ll steal your freedom, wreck your house, keep you up at night, be rude in restaurants and supermarkets, embarrass you and force you to wear nothing but top knots and yoga pants. You’ll live on caffeine and dry shampoo, no one will appreciate you and your career will suffer.

The truth is, kids don’t steal your freedom and wreck your world; they open an entirely new world. A world far more complete than what we knew before. They also provide us with freedom from the prison of self absorption. I don’t mean you’ll completely neglect yourself as you serve you family’s every whim; I mean discovering how much joy comes from focusing more on how we can positively impact someone else versus how we are negatively impacted by others or circumstances; and an understanding that we could always come up with something we believe we need.

Though kids can still scare me at times; when I look back at the terrified aunt observing her nieces and nephews I wish I could tell her to relax and take the time to witness the changes they made in their parents. Motherhood is where I found my empowerment and I encourage you to face this fear with excitement and gusto. ~ Lori Harding