This post is part of a series called “Motherhood Mantras.” To read more about the series, and the full list of writers, click here.
I have always wanted to be a mother. But becoming a mother was not an easy road for me. Although I was healthy and young, it took a good 3 years to get pregnant with my first son. After months and months of testing, praying, and wasted pregnancy tests, I had to ask myself how bad do I want to be a mother. How many dollars am I willing to spend? How much am I willing to put my body through? How much am I willing to put my marriage through? I came to terms with believing something about life:
It’s good enough.
My life “is good enough” if I am not able to have a baby. For many, the mantra “it’s good enough” sounds like it is settling or giving up. For me, it was a ticket to freedom – free to not live with expectations beyond my control; free to let go of what I want and be open to what God wants; free to embrace the possibilities that I wouldn’t have given the time of day. It’s good enough. That freedom must have affected my body because before I knew it, I was pregnant with my son.
A couple years later, my husband and I tried again. This time I had the opposite problem. I could easily get pregnant as if it were a contagious disease, but I was never able to carry to term. In 2007, I was pregnant three times and miscarried twice. I’ll never forget my first miscarriage. I was twelve weeks pregnant when I found out, but the doctor said that I may have miscarried as early as nine weeks. I instantly thought of my mother-in-law who had suffered through thirteen miscarriages. I could barely get through this one let alone thirteen. The odd thing was that deep down inside, I think I knew all along that something was wrong but didn’t want to believe it.
In my ninth week of pregnancy, I had the most vivid dream. My family and I were vacationing in a cabin. While my son and I were hanging out in the backyard, a black panther appeared and began to circle around us. I screamed for my husband to save us, but he couldn’t come. That dream haunted me for months after I found out I miscarried.
After several months had past and I had experienced another miscarriage, I decided to see a therapist for a completely different reason than the miscarriages. But somehow that dream entered into our conversation. After telling her about the dream, she asked me to close my eyes and have a conversation with the panther. Are you kidding me? Talk to the panther? I decided to humor her. The conversation went something like this:
Therapist: “What would you like to say to the panther?”
Me: “Uh, how are you doing panther?”
Therapist: “What did the panther say?”
Me: “The panther is fine.”
Therapist: “What else would you like to ask?”
Me: “Why are you circling us?”
Therapist: “Why is he?”
Me: “He wants my son.”
Me: “To protect him.”
Therapist: “From what?”
Me: (long pause) “From me.” (lots of crying)
What started as a stupid exercise ended up being something completely revelatory. I was unaware of how much I was holding onto my son. Whenever he cried, my insides would turn inside out. If he got hurt, it felt as if I got hurt. Somewhere along the way, I forgot my mantra that “it’s good enough.” If I was to never get pregnant again, it’s okay. “It’s good enough.” A couple weeks later, I got pregnant with my daughter.
And now that mantra sticks with me as I try to be the best parent I can be. I don’t have to be perfect. They don’t have to be perfect. “It’s good enough.” I do not believe that letting go of the idea of having children is what made me able to have children. My children are absolute gifts to me. I do believe that by believing “it’s good enough” gave me the opportunity to see what I truly value in life and be open to the unexpected. It takes the pressure off me to live by a standard that is impossible to meet or just plain unreasonable. It helps me embrace the moment just as it is and accept my kids for just who God created them to be.
So the next time my baby girl refuses to go to bed or I step on another Lego piece that my son left on the floor, I will chant with all the patience in the world:
“It’s good enough.”
Theresa Cho is from Reno, Nevada and is an Associate Pastor at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband, InHo Kim, who is also a pastor and their two (pastor kids x2) kids and fluffy dog. She has a passion for child advocacy, creating intergenerational worship experiences, and urban ministry. She loves to bake, create art, and spend time with her family. She blogs at Still Waters.