Motherhood is a common land—traversed, known and loved by many women who inhabit it. I imagine it to be a land similar to where we live now, marked by many drastic seasons. Some seasons that make us feel alive and loyal to our residence here. Those seasons are why we live here. They’re why people visit. Others harsher and longer than we anticipated, difficult but eventually ending, not without taking their toll a bit. During those colder seasons, we’re driven to eat more, take up hobbies that celebrate the chilly air, and gather within. This is not unlike motherhood too, I am learning. Within the land of motherhood are many paths, routes, scenic journeys. There is no one way to live here. Having people in my life to remind me of this is one of the things that has saved me during the first three months of Louisa’s life.
At almost four months in, I am swallowed in love for her. I am swallowed in her being. And I welcome it.
I welcome the tiny eyes watching me until my eyes meet hers back. I welcome her milky smell. I welcome the way she hugs my arm as I put her pacifier in her mouth. I welcome prying my eyes open before the alarm because she’s a morning person, because I missed her while I slept, because it feels like Christmas morning somehow every morning. I welcome losing an entire day between feeding and pumping and smiling at each other. She grew inside of me, and now outside of me she has filled every bit of me back up. I am a balloon of Louisa, and I welcome it.
Other parts, I am learning to welcome. I am learning to welcome friends and family watching me as I slowly begin to put myself back together again. I am learning to welcome that they might be surprised by new pieces of me. I am learning to welcome the lack of a rule book. I am learning to welcome a completely new yardstick for productivity, accomplishments, satisfaction. I am learning to welcome the way my heart overflows when my husband carries Louisa into our room after an early morning change while also grieving the ways in which we were wealthy with unencumbered time together for the last six years. I am learning to welcome the scar from where she came, the scar from the birth I never thought would go as it did—pink and impossibly tiny compared to her now and yet impossibly bigger than anything I’ve found myself up against in life thus far. Welcoming and learning to welcome; this is the path we find ourselves on.
Motherhood is a land, but it is also an ocean. It is ruggedly stunning—aggressive and pure. Its sounds are comfort to many of us, and its sights are overwhelming and vast.
Motherhood is reading birth affirmations weeks after the event. “I am flexible and open to change.” “I am doing the best I can with what I know.” “It is okay to be scared.” “I am in the right place doing the right thing.” “I am a strong and capable mother.” “My body will heal.”
Motherhood is finding comfort in being comfort. Motherhood is falling limp with worry. Motherhood is being emboldened with knowing how your child needs you. Both an ego trip and a deeply humbling road, motherhood is warmth, is stumbling around in the dark, is somehow feeling held by doing the holding.
A polarizing natural wonder, motherhood asks us what we’re made of. Surely none of us know before being asked. And on that journey, in that ocean, we find clues to an answer. I’m only a couple of clues in. Maybe I’ll share some more with you a little later.