To the mothers.
Motherhood is not a day with a card and a bunch of flowers, it’s not defined by a gift that was purchased or a t-shirt welcoming you to the club. My motherhood is a bit messy and a bit tiring. It’s not the pretty instagram-filtered version that I wheel out on occasion of tadpole hunting and perfect rainbows stacked on shelves of pine cones and beautiful books, and it’s not the shit-show representation that causes me to sink into a large gin and tonic every night. It sits somewhere in between, in moments of laughter and wanders over for unwarranted cuddles and sighs as she finally, finally falls asleep holding my hand while downstairs the washing up sits unwashed and there are two peg people living under the sofa which I never have the strength to unearth.
To those mothers who spend their days nameless, identity forgotten and left somewhere behind, who spend their days as “mum” or “mama” sweeping up crumbs from the floor or laying their child down for naps. Who feel a bit fatigued and tired and grateful for those moments, but deserve to find their names again.
It’s in first smiles between feverish nights at home, sleepless heavy nights, between cracked nipples and tears and feeling like I’ll never be able to get in the shower easily again. It’s that smile that comes exactly when I needed it most, when I felt like it’s too much love, too little sleep, too much time, too much, too much, and then it’s just everything. It’s the smile that I close my eyes and see, like sunshine branded onto my eyelids in it’s brilliance, that first, gummy smile.
To those mothers who are months or days or hours old, who have woken up with this new day that belonged to others but is theirs now.
It exists in the first injection, the finger I caught in the nail clippers, in those nights spent in hospital at six months, cannula in hand. The scream that rose in my throat but had to be pushed down when they hurt you. It’s in being that person that her eyes search for in unfamiliar moments, the reassurance of mother, of the one she came running for when she fell that time and hit her head on the floor.
To those mothers whose motherhood is unexpected and harder than imagined, those mothers who wake every day unsure how they got here.
It’s in the moments of heartache when I hear another’s story that I could not have possibly understood until the moment that she became mine, and I feel the tiniest echo of their splintered pain for situations that I cannot fathom living through. I felt sadness before, but the pain of a mother is indescribable, just a shadow of secondhand fraction that feels searing, I cannot imagine, it’s incomparable.
To those whose motherhood began and continues, with children who exist in your heart, who miss their children everyday. To those not yet mothers, but are trying and have love waiting. To those who find the word mother difficult.
Times that motherhood feels like a lonely and long battle, one that has not been faced before. Those times I want someone to just come along, pick up the pieces, say “me too”, do it all for me just for a day.
To those mothers who awoke this morning to a day like any other. A day without a lie-in, breakfast in bed or a homemade card, because it’s just you. To those mothers whose families look like theirs, in each and every way, but mixed and different and magic.
In the overwhelming moments of joy that are shared, in first, second, third steps. Those days that are perfect and picturesque and feel like they should be trapped between the pages of a book and never let go, because they are those of the childhood I imagined. The dinner is on the table at the right time, cooked while she played peacefully behind, where nearly whole days were spent outside in the sun, strawberry juice dribbled down chins, books read at breakfast and days begun at a normal time. Those are the days that make it all worth it.
To those mothers, all mothers, creating a childhood full of wonder, those mothers holding their children until they fall asleep. Those mothers working hard during the week, on the weekends, who spend their evenings working. To those mothers who wished desperately for pregnancy, to those whom motherhood was unexpected but embraced. To those whose mothers aren’t here, or far away, or find speaking to their mother problematic. To those mothers who work to break the confines of the only motherhood they’ve ever seen before. To those mothers who find it all a bit tiring, but do it all anyway, for them. To those mothers who gained children, not babies. To those mothers embracing the joy.
To those mothers. All of them.