Why motherhood will never not be a contradiction

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If ever there was a woman who writes as honestly as I wish I could it is THIS woman, Emily Ballard. Her words fill my head with visuals so lovely and so densely filled with life that I sometimes find myself inspired to tears. Her work is beautiful. She is as honest as honest can get in the blog world and you will be foolish to miss out on her marvelous talent. I am honored and giddy to introduce you to Emily Ballard.

If you are just tuning in, the House Guest series introduces emerging and established voices in the mom blogger world to the Housewife Plus audience. The writers featured here share their stories about parenting, marriage, and life in general. They are sometimes serious, other times funny, but always real.


Today I got to do a really special thing.  I sat around with a bunch of people at the meeting I first went to more than a year ago.  I sat among the folks that first heard me utter the words, “…and I’m an alcoholic.”  Today I sat next to them and across from them and I read aloud the words, “…grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

emily_image_1Today we sat out in the sunshine.  It was hot and as picturesque as any New England town you’ll find anywhere.  I was too hot in my pants.  And people were speaking, showing strangers their insides, and over and over again I heard stories from childhoods long past. I heard stories of hurts that started young and never healed. And I looked at these people, so very beautiful in their raw and brave human-ness and I thought of my children – yes, the ones I want to stop constantly talking about – and I thought the thoughts that brought me to a letter that needed writing.

My Children,

I can’t remember the last time I gave you all of me. It might have been when you were inside of me. No, it was after that, it was at least three years of me giving everything to you, my girl. I didn’t know how to be both a woman and your mother, and so I focused on the thing I loved more – you – and I did that.

And then, a few years in, it was you, my boy. You grew inside of me. I felt you there right away and I knew you immediately. I wanted you and trusted you and felt you in there, knowing your way around, and I knew that you were the very thing I needed.  You came and I said thank you to the Universe; straight away, you knew me more than anyone.

I’ve been thinking about the things that cause us to struggle. About how I need to be constantly in control, correcting and modifying our lives to fit inside of something that feels how I want it to feel, instead of simply crouching down and looking into your eyes and giving you every single bit of me until you’re so full you say, “It’s okay, Mama. We feel good now. We feel full. We’re saturated with you. We feel it.  Thanks.”

I keep hiding away from you – in the bathroom, in my frustration or sudden silence – because I’m scared of getting lost again. I’m scared of not knowing where the middle is.  I’m scared of becoming Only.  But today, in that safe and holy space, I knew we’d be okay when I surrender, when I become courageous enough to change the things I can, when I stop thinking that everything else will fulfill me more than presence.

I know the difference.

I know better.

And I know that loving on you just enough to satiate you, so I can go be alone, isn’t really loving you.

It’s me being selfish and calling it something else.

It’s me not knowing how to find a middle place, where I can have my needs deeply met while also fully meeting yours.

And oh goodness, do you deserve all of the love.  I know this because you continue to give me all of yours, day after day, no matter if I’ve been disgusting with my tone, selfish with my time, and confused about how to best support you in becoming whoever you are.

And yes, even though you don’t belong to me, even though you belong to the world, even though you will go and I will stay and then I will go and you will stay, even though all of that – I will now become a fierce competitor for the very hearts of you.

Because love.

Because us.


I was heartbroken today when I took an honest look at how little of myself I’ve been willing to give my kids lately.  I’ve been incredibly focused on my work.  I’ve been exhausted by the incessant busyness of life.  And I’ve become incredibly weary of parenting anxiously; I simply want things to flow, to work, to be easy.

I didn’t know I was living in a blind spot.

That my long-term struggle with finding the middle was beginning to polarize me from my ability to give love like a waterfall cascades – endlessly.

I just didn’t know.

It’s complex, isn’t it?  I’m certain that The Best Version Of Me is a well-rounded, self-defined woman.  I am also certain that The Best Version Of Me gives her children every bit of grace they keep giving her.

It feels crazy, this.

But maybe that’s just the way this thing goes down, all crazy and love and confusing and clear, all of it, always.

I seek clarity through words, and often find solace in seeing what other folks have to say about the walk along the path.

Revealing my hidden parts to myself today was unsettling.

I felt undone.

I still do.

And so I will go wash my face and straighten my sheets and maybe try to pray again.

And I’ll get up in some hours and clear my eyes and my heart and, well, you know what comes next.


emily_ballardBIO: Emily Ballard is a writer and spiritual searcher who’s way into tattoos, espresso, raucous laughter, great food, and interesting people. She writes as honestly as she can about her gritty and her pretty because she believes that truth breeds connection – and connection is where it’s at. She lives in Western MA with her dry-humored husband and her extraordinarily loud and lovely children.  Visit her site at www.emilyballard.com.

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.