A mother of two is spreading her parenting truths in a compelling Instagram post that “speaks to so many mothers.”
Olivyah Bowens, 23, a Puerto Rico-based doula, shared an Instagram photo on Sunday of herself and her 2-year-old daughter, Ozara, having a meltdown. “No one teaches you how to love a child you didn’t plan to have,” the caption partially read. “No one shows you how to traverse the emotional complexity of loving a child you weren’t happy about being pregnant with. It’s even more difficult at those times when they’re having tantrums and pushing you to a point of emotional exhaustion.”
“This stage of motherhood has forced me to look at my reflection in my daughter’s eyes and realize that no I don’t enjoy being a mother all the time, but this child has been the catalyst for major growth,” Bowen writes. “She is the mirror that allows me to look into my past and see the fears still controlling me now. … The reality is I don’t want to be a mother every day. I don’t want to feel held back from chasing my dreams and goals. I don’t want to be exhausted. But I KNOW this little girl has brought me face to face with things that would have otherwise been ignored in my bubble of childless freedom.”
“Dear mama, who is going through an unplanned pregnancy, don’t feel guilty, don’t feel afraid, don’t feel ashamed,” she concludes. “That baby chose YOU to be its mothers at the perfect time. Surrender to the journey of unpredictability and let this new being show you a whole new part of yourself you didn’t know was there.”
On Thursday, upon the realization that she hasn’t taken many family photos that included herself, Bowens indulged in a photo shoot. At one point, Ozara became upset because she wanted to click the shutter button and her mood was captured on camera.
Many women saw themselves in the moment. “This is exactly what I needed to hear… I love my son more than anything but I really never wanted to be a mom. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words” and “… We didn’t plan [my son] in fact I cried ugly tears when I saw the positive result on the pregnancy tests. But when I look at him now, he has changed me for a better future for him, his sister and myself.”
For Bowens, also a mother to a 9-month-old girl named Oniyah, posting took courage. “I was nervous, but I kept reminding myself there is so much junk about parenting on social media and I wanted to offer something useful,” Bowens tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
In 2015, the summer before Bowens entered her senior year of college at Butler University in Indianapolis, she got pregnant with her boyfriend of seven years. As a dance major with dreams of moving to New York City and pursuing ballet, the news was difficult for her and her family to process. “I always wanted children, but ballet isn’t a baby-friendly career and walking around campus while pregnant wasn’t easy,” says Bowens.
Soon, daily stresses and frustration over her stalled career took its toll. “I wasn’t enjoying motherhood — I’d see photos of happy moms on social media and wonder, ‘Why isn’t this me?’ So I dug deep and realized that I was mourning my former life and feeling isolated.”
Bowens vowed to parent differently. A career change also provided her with a new purpose — while pregnant with her second daughter, she became a doula to guide women during the childbirth process.
“Some people have said, ‘You shouldn’t have become a mom if you didn’t want kids, but of course, I love my children,” says Bowens. “So many women are mentally and physically exhausted and feel alone. Yet society isn’t always supportive.”
That’s why Bowens’s point of view is so necessary, says Sharon Silver, creator of Proactive Parenting. “Posts like these resonate because not only do they help us get through the day, they forge a connection between parents,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “This woman is telling the truth about parenting — that for many, it’s hard and frustrating, but it’s also the biggest growth experience. And they wouldn’t have it any other way.”