Columns Archive, Essays Archive, In Infancy

In Infancy. “To be like water”

Raising Mothers / In infancy. "To be like water" Kelley Carboni-Woods

This is the introductory piece in a four-piece series entitled “In Infancy.” by guest contributor Kelley Carboni-Woods. Kelley lives in Charlotte with her husband Christian and their 2 year old son, Palmer and one day old (!!) son, Duke.  Kelley is a hair stylist, salon owner, yoga instructor and writer. She writes about parenting on her blog Infectiously Happy. I’ve asked her to share four pieces with us here—one each month over the next four months.   

To begin, her first post is entitled “To be like Water”. I hope you all enjoy her writing as much as I do and we all learn to be more like water in some meaningful way daily. 

When I was pregnant the first time, my mother told me that pregnancy and motherhood would show me who I  really am, that it would force me to look at places in myself that needed my attention.  I have known for quite a while that I am a control freak. I like to plan, then execute. I like a schedule with to-do lists. They make me feel secure. And when my first son was conceived I began learning that my handle on things was all relative, really a misconception. Children come here with their own little journey and I had to quickly adapt to the needs and wants of another person. Still though, that control freak is there. My son Palmer is a trick baby, the kind that will have you thinking motherhood is a breeze. He is easy to soothe, very rarely upset and two years later, I know how he works. But motherhood, and life, are here again to remind me that the reins I think I hold are an illusion.

My husband and I started talking about having another baby last spring. We (meaning I) thought the new year would be a good time to try again. We would have time to potty train Palmer, I could enjoy a summer and fall of wine and cocktails after more than two years of prenatal and nursing sobriety.  That was our plan, but an anniversary adventure and too much hard cider had me pregnant in June. I was grateful but overwhelmed.  My last pregnancy, I felt like a unicorn.  I had no morning sickness, exercised every day, even starting yoga teacher training one week before giving birth. It was all beautiful and empowering.

This pregnancy fills the belief that each one is different. I feel most days like I have been hit by a school bus. I was once told that I would likely not have children so there is an immense gratitude for both opportunities to be the vessel for new life, but this transition from one baby to two has been a powerful lesson in resilience and letting go. Only a few months after finding out about our new baby, I lost my aunt who was in many ways a second mother to me. There is not a way to be prepared to say goodbye to people you love but I found myself in an exhausting pattern of grief, overwhelming responsibility and guilt, all multiplied by the raging hormones of pregnancy. I have an immense support system but I felt guilty for being unable to get it together, for not having the same joy about my pregnancy as the first time.

In many ways this pregnancy has saved me from the dark hole of grief.  The first time I really felt him move I was sobbing over a box of my Aunt’s things. His little body sent flutters through my abdomen creating a shift in my own tears from sorrow to gratitude.

Still this transition keeps showing me I need to loosen my grip. The balance and ease I had with my toddler is precariously teetering towards mayhem as my belly grows, my ability to wrangle him diminishes and he realizes he can outrun me. As a yoga teacher, I am constantly reminding my students to tap into their personal power, to honor both joy and sadness and to let go of what is not serving your growth. I have struggled in this pregnancy to practice what I teach. I have truly been unsure of what life with two little people will be like. Did I bite off more than I can chew? When will the ease return?

Today marks 39 weeks of pregnancy for me so our baby could join us at any moment.  I am not in control of it and in the spirit of honoring all of what I have felt up until now, the control freak in me has been petrified.  Logically, I know it will be fine, but I’m pregnant, so logic can be limited. More recently I have taken stock of the thing I do control, my own thoughts. I am reminding myself in each moment to be like water, ebbing and flowing. My illusions about control are slowly being reigned in, again. I’m finding the balance in knowing it will continue to unfold as it should. I am approaching this new adventure with restored joy, clarity and ease.

Photo credit: Jasiatic Photography

Raising Mothers is a free online literary magazine for femmes and NBPOC parents of color. We center the work of the marginalized in our effort to normalize our stories and existence on the web, and in life.

Filed under: Columns Archive, Essays Archive, In Infancy


Sherisa de Groot (she/her) is a writer, community builder, and founder of Raising Mothers, literary membership community Literary Liberation, and pens A Home Within Myself. Her work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Kindred by Parents, Refinery 29, Mutha Magazine, and Oldster Magazine and she was a contributor to the book ‘100 Diverse Voices on Parenthood’ by A Kid’s Company About. With a focus on intersectionality and social justice, de Groot’s writing explores the nuances of motherhood and the experiences of BIPOC mothers and marginalized genders. Through her work, she aims to amplify the voices of those who have been historically silenced and create a more equitable world for all. Raising Mothers was the 2021 Romper People’s Choice Iris Award Winner. Originally from Brooklyn New York, she is a first-generation American turned immigrant living in Amsterdam, NL with her husband, two children, and cat.

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