Stephanie Johnson Koegh


For those of you who know Stephanie, she is not announcing a pregnancy by writing on motherhood! I wanted to provide a variety of views from a variety of women. Stephanie is a newlywed with no children. However, she is a mother to many. Hundreds of people have been cared for and unconditionally loved by her. She has an amazing capacity to carry people in her heart. She also sees motherhood a bit different than others because of her personal experiences. I asked her to be honest and share her observations on being a mom. You may not be used to hearing this perspective, but I have known her for years and she has a heart of gold. Here is her insight:

Motherhood.

I am 34 and not a mom. At all. Recently my husband had surgery on his nose, which required that we set an alarm for every three hours to take his pain medication. I slept the entire next weekend. I thought I might die. I am pretty sure I am not made for babies.

I don't actually like children. I love them, and I think they are lovely magical little beings, but I find them loud, messy, unpredictable and unruly. Actually that part doesn't bother me. The part that bothers me is that they are not mine and since parents have a sundry of techniques they use to parent { the hands off, the iron fist, the baby/toddler wise, the baby/toddler whisperer, growing kids (insert name of deity)'s way and so on and so forth} I cannot say, "Hey kid, pipe down you're bugging everyone." Or "Get you little hands of my black label J Crew white spring coat." I guess really, the kids are fine, their parents parenting techniques are the minefield.

And that's really it isn't it? It kind of all goes back to our parents.

Motherhood probably looks a little bit different to me. My mom plays Tetris, watches Nascar and likes to sway to records of John Lennon while sitting cross legged on the floor burning incense, she's 61. She has been this way for as long as I can remember, and I have to say that if ever a child was raised by the village (or maybe wolves) it's me. Motherhood. This word always really offered me a gut-blow. I wanted a traditional mother, and other people wanted to be adoptive mothers to me, but in the end, I didn't have a traditional mother and they couldn't really be my stand-ins. However, with some ferocious fighting and committed relationship my Aunt (and Uncle) gave me a key to her house and her heart and over the years we forged a mother-daughter bond deeper than I could have dreamed. Motherhood is nothing beyond making REAL room in your heart to care for and nurture another soul. This may happen for moments, days, weeks or years, but it happens by choice not by blood relationship. I know that I know that I know Motherhood is a choice and not genetic. I wish more people believed that.

Motherhood looks funny in my life. Despite my distain for little people, they surround me. But I kind of moved backward. I started by mothering my mother. Then I moved to the guys in the dorm, they were easy; Orange slices and encouraging words did it for them. Then it was youth at Highland Baptist Church; They were more dramatic, but kind of the same, Marble Slab and public affirmation. After that I moved on to college kids and frat boys. They required the same thing, but with later nights and an elevated tendency for emotional drama. The food ante was upped as well; This was often King Ranch Casserole and notes left on cars. Then I moved overseas and did this for people there...Re-enter the little people though, there were 7 children on my team. Back to oranges and encouraging words. So for me it's been full circle. And you know what , I've learn a few things over the years. Mainly that food covers a multitude of sins...Kidding. Ish. Ok, not really at all. It's hard to be mad at someone who feeds you delicious food. But really - here are my main three thoughts:

There is no right way.I started really black and white. There was right and wrong. My way or wrong. Err, God's way, as I saw it, or wrong. The way of the last impacting book I read or wrong...lots of 'this way' or wrong. Life is not so luxuriously easy. Children and adults should know that in a polarized world there are shades of grey and love is full of empathetic grace. We cannot get it wrong. We can only make a decision, if it's the wrong one, then it is. We're not stuck, we just have to make a new decision and start moving in the right direction. Making things right or wrong, good or evil was never part of the original intent. The goal was always to learn and listen and intuit what was good, better or best. Sometimes, we may not pick best, but then we learn. We simply cannot choose a wrong direction, we must move with the rhythm of Spirit who says, "Whether you step to the right or to the left you will hear a voice behind you saying this is My way, walk in it." That voice is the only way.

Children and people need a lot less than we think they do. I nanny for this family, and one of the children thinks everything is BORING. I could put the kid on the moon and he would tell me how boring the ride there was. However, he entertains himself for hours with a cardboard cutout of snakes & ladders from the inside of a Puffins cereal box. Brown and black, he can't read and has no real way to play the game. Toys, technology and hovering attention leads to distracted lives and people who cannot live with the quiet and stillness of their own soul. If the voice of the Eternal is still and small it seems logical that we would need to have simple lives, free from noise and distraction to hear. There is no guide to this and you cannot make television or technology the enemy. We, as mothers, simply must identify the noise in our own lives and help those we love learn to identify it in their own lives. Empower people, don't enable their dependency on you ( we often resent them for it in the end.) And everyone loves a kid who plays quietly in a corner...I think every kid loves a mom who will go do the same.

You as a mother are not the center of the universe and you cannot do any extensive damage that a good counselor can't help undo. Seriously. I used to whine and complain about not being allowed to ride in first class with my Aunt and Uncle, or stay out until 11:30 my senior year, or be exonerated from wrongful accusations of overdramatic reactions to menial situations (as if I EVER would.) They would frequently promise to promptly place $25 in my counseling fund and then they would move on (as I suffered.) We're going to totally screw it up. Seriously. BIG TIME. But the truth is, kids, friends, children, spouses require a few simple things to feel loved. (Orange slices) Time, encouragement and sincere apologies are all that are really needed. Think about it...Successful grown ups are constantly giving the glory God and their mamma who was always there believing in them (and feeding them, but they don't say this.) They never mentioned when she totally flipped her lid because they spilled glitter on the brand new rug, lip glossed the car's interior or tugged on her pants and asked "Mom?" at just the wrong time. Those aren't the things that stick in the minds of our "kids", mostly because they are too busy thinking about themselves or how you are going to need to put some money in their counseling fund or offering them an orange slice. Though you are not the center of their universe, you will (no matter how grouchy you were) always get credit for the consistent love, time and encouragement you provided. Any Heissman Trophy or Nobel Prize winner can attest to that. In their speech they're just going to give God all the glory anyway, so why worry about it?

In the end I have little, that you don't innately know, to offer. I am not a mom. I don't know that I ever will be. I love my friends' children, but I would raise all of them a different way (silently, with no sticky food and strict orders to not make ANY messes.) I have deeply hurt or failed most of the people I loved and anyone I haven't I probably just haven't known long enough. This is what makes me human. All I know is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to Motherhood. There is only a sincere and humble heart, surrendered and committed to wanting the best for the ones they love, whatever that may look like for them. Failure is as certain as death and taxes. So don't waste your time beating yourself up over it, Lord knows you're going to need that energy for peeling oranges, encouragement and "being there." Just remember the last commencement speech, MVP or Grammy speech you heard, "First I want to thank God (for making me better than everyone else?), I also want to thank my momma for loving me, being there for me and always believing in me." Seriously, how can you go wrong?"

Stephanie is 34 years old. She lives in Boston with her husband, fish Arli and their newly planted garden. She has returned to school after a 15-year hiatus and wants to encourage all young people to stay in school (your brain starts falling out of your ears after 24). She nannies in her free time, 4 children, 2 different families, and adores her friends' children the rest of the time. She would like to thank God for the opportunity to write this blog, and her Aunt for the money for counseling. The counseling was free, Stephanie bought Big-0's of Shiner with that money.