mom to mom with rebekah
Meet Rebekah Presley.
Los Angeles based Producer and Photo Director for Darling. Married to husband, Nathan Presley and expecting their first baby together (like this week - congrats mama), and mom to her first born, Miles (4). We sat down to hear Rebekah’s authentic truth, her story, her advice, her love. We hope that this conversation either guides you before becoming a mom or inspires you as a mom to know that you aren’t alone. #MomToMom
Q: We’d love to hear about your journey. Who is Rebekah as a woman and as a mom?
Being a mom for me has been really interesting. I’ve always seen myself as a different type of female than other females. I have never been super feminine. I’m a type 8 on the enneagram. I’m very confrontational. I’m very forward – I’m not meek or quiet or scared. I grew up with a dad who told me I was great my whole life, so honestly I always thought I was. I have never had any problems with confidence, or other things that a lot of women struggle with.
Because of those qualities, I initially struggled with the idea of being a mother because mothers are so nurturing. They are so tender, and I’m not tender or naturally nurturing. I’m like “get up,” “time to go,” “cry later.” I was really worried that I wasn’t going to be a very good mom in that nurturing kind of way. I knew I would be a good caretaker but maybe not the best mother. Going into labor with Miles, almost 4 years ago now, I never went into it with a plan. The only plan for me is that the baby was going to come. I was just so humbled by the whole experience. It was hard. And I didn’t nail it. I didn’t come out of it like “Oh everything was perfect and easy, and I did great.” In my mind I felt like I failed because I couldn't just do it. I had to be induced because he was two weeks late. Then I needed an epidural because I literally couldn’t handle the pain anymore. I hit a threshold where I broke, and I’m not used to breaking, because I always thought of myself as this tough woman. But I couldn’t do it. And I broke. It was interesting, I feel like every moment since then has been me breaking this structure of who I thought I was, and growing into something much more beautiful and sweet and good and lovelier than I thought I was capable of.
Q: Do you think in that moment, your more feminine side fully came through?
Absolutely. I think I had to fully break to experience my femininity. I think that my femininity has just blossomed as a mother. I never used to wear a dress - I thought it was for weak people. There was this weird part of me where I couldn’t show weakness, because it would somehow make me less strong. But what I realized through motherhood is that showing that weakness, being vulnerable is true strength. Like crying my eyes out because I need help is strength. Those moments are the moments that are true strength and true beauty, and are so much more genuine and lovely and good than me being what I thought was strong.
Q: Why do you feel like you couldn’t be weak? What was preventing you from really letting yourself go in certain ways?
I feel like I still struggle with it every single day. As much as I have grown, I still think that is probably one of my biggest struggles – is thinking that I still have to do it all on my own. I genuinely had a full break down to my husband two weekends ago. We got in a huge argument because I wouldn’t ask for help. He was like, “Well, you didn’t ask,” and I was like “I don’t want to.” And my whole body just broke down. And I was like “Please help me, please.” Then he told me that he would literally do anything for me, but I just have to ask for help when I need it, cause I never act like I need it. It’s amazing that I am still struggling with the same thing. But I think that’s part of the beauty of it. We grow, we change, we learn, but I feel like I’m going to be 75 years old still not wanting to ask for help, because it’s so engraved in me. I like to think I’ll just be great at 75 and not struggle with the same things. It’s kind of part of who we are. It’s okay to struggle. But just keep going, keep learning. Just be aware and ask for help.
Q: Where do you think this struggle for you stems from?
I definitely think those things for me stemmed from childhood. At a young age I had a lot of interesting struggles in life. My dad got colon cancer when I was in 1st grade, and my parents both left for six months, and me and my brother both stayed at friend’s houses. We didn’t really know what was going on. At seven, how much can you really know? It’s hard to really grasp. All I knew was that my dad literally stunk, he smelled bad. His body was deteriorating from the inside out. He was really sick.
I feel for my parents having to deal with that, but I also feel for the childhood me. The child that was unexplainably left, and this abandoned kind of feeling at that young of an age. I remember going to bed and thinking “They just won’t come back.” And to have that fear at a young age, you grow this self-protection. You think, “I have to take care of myself. I have to defend myself, protect myself.” I was at a house with four other kids, two of which were older boys, and I remember not feeling super safe. The boys would try to push me around. I remember feeling like I had to be tough and strong and take care of myself.
That was a turning point in my life where I changed from being a kid, to not really enjoying my childhood anymore. I don’t blame my parents because I totally understand, and literally my dad survived. Since then he has had melanoma twice, and now has leukemia. He’s a survivor. We are so connected. And I love him so much, and I am so grateful that he went to take care of himself. But it’s such a weird thing to be so scarred from something, but also if he didn’t go, I might have lost him. I got a whole experience of having him in my life after that, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. There is a sweet part of motherhood now where I am trying to reclaim my childhood where I feel like I cut it short big time.
Q: What does being a mom mean to you? And how do you navigate that everyday?
I feel like one of the biggest, eye opening things about becoming a mother is that you go and you spend your whole life being the most important thing in your life because you don’t know any better and not in a bad way, in a normal way. You take care of yourself, you give yourself a shower. You take care of yourself cause it’s human instinct, and you have to to survive. But then once you have a baby… I have never seen something transform the best people and worst people I have ever met into something new. Nothing. Nothing can change you like becoming a mother. And I feel like whether you think the least of yourself, or you think the highest of yourself, you will find this beautiful common ground as a mother knowing that there is someone else in the world that you would do anything for. I always thought I was selfless until I had a child, and then I was melted down to nothing from exhaustion and being physically broken. Emotionally broken. Melted down to nothing and just feeling like I would literally do anything, give anything, to be the right type of person for this child. And it’s not like I thought negatively about myself, I didn’t think I was bad or not good enough, but I think that once I had him in my arms, I became exactly who I always hoped I would be.
But I feel like it brought me into this new understanding and way of thinking about human beings, and what's important, and priorities. It brought me to this place and understanding that I think all mothers experience. You can literally have nothing, and sleep in a homeless shelter, and have the exact same experience as someone who lives in the hills and has everything they need. You’re the same. You’re giving your same thing to your child. Because babies don’t need anything except for love. I even felt that to a strange degree, feeling like I was going to have to take care of myself. I am all he has, I have to be enough. I have to be good. I have to be strong. That baby just needs you to love it. And other than that, some form of milk, whatever kind you can provide, is all they need. It’s crazy for that to be enough. As we grow and become more and more human, we start to see how many other things we think we need. Babies are the purest form of realizing what you actually need.