3 years and 9 months… that’s how long I’ve been a mother for.
And now finally it brings me the most overwhelming joy. Somehow I have grown the blondest, brightest, most bonkers children and I could never have imagined how wonderful they would be and how very much I would love them. How much just closing my eyes and thinking of them would fill me with warmth and love and purpose. Because it does. And I feel so lucky and so blessed and so very grateful that they are mine.
But it wasn’t always like that. I thought motherhood would make me feel complete, and instead it made me feel broken. And even worse, in the beginning I felt trapped in a world that promised to make me feel more and more broken (a lot of soft play will do that to a mother) for as far as I could see. It was as though motherhood had fractured me, and now those fissures were widening and splitting further, like a frozen lake that creaks and cracks under stress until it shatters into icy black waters of no return. And I already felt like I was drowning.
I knew I was so very lucky, but I didn’t feel lucky at all. If anything I felt trapped in a prison of my own making. Trapped in a cycle I couldn’t break free from. Until perhaps we won the lottery. Or they went to university.
The days were long and blurred into one another in a sea of life misery. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, only gin. It was a matter of surviving. Of putting one tired foot in front of the other (hopefully not onto rogue lego) and hoping that one day, one day would feel a bit more like living again, and a little less like just getting from 5am to bedtime via five loads of laundry, thirteen nappy changes and three cups of stone-cold tea, with a bit of unhinged wailing thrown in just to keep you on your toes.
I didn’t have time to go for cake and a chat while I tried to keep my business running, or the money to pay an enthusiastic singing person £8 for the pleasure of half an hour of sitting painfully on the floor and trying to look happy about throwing my baby into the air without completely ruining my already ruined back. And what else is it that you’re supposed to do? Apart from say that it’s all the best thing you’ve ever done.
Until suddenly, life really was just a bit easier. For no particular reason, without any warning at all – and that’s been the case for a few glorious months. And now yesterday when the Little Man dramatically spat out his green beans and declared bravely that it was just because he needed to cough, rather than clearly, because it was a vegetable he didn’t like, my heart swelled with pride that he’d tried it. There was no flash of annoyance or exasperation, where there might have been a year ago. Instead there was a smile and a word of encouragement and a glow of love.
For me motherhood has been relentlessly hard in a much bigger way than just a long day or a difficult week. Not because of the children, but very much because of me. I’m finally getting there and it is all the kinds of wonderful I’d ever hoped for, but it’s taken a bloody long time to get here. Well 3 years and getting on for 9 months…
Ok some of it for me has been depression-related, but a lot of it has just been the shock of it, and the gaping hole between expectation and reality. My experience wasn’t an overwhelming flood of joy about motherhood – the day-to-day monotony and dullness of it all has been a real struggle, and I have the cracks to prove it.
But recently I read somewhere about the Japanese art of Kintsugi – where shattered pottery is repaired with seams of gold. Where the imperfection is celebrated and made beautiful as a vital part of the object’s history. And that was just the loveliest thing to me, that perhaps the bits of me that were broken, might just have been filled with gold.
Written by Christina Pickworth.