Summer is here. Which means the birds are singing, the weather is warm, and kids no longer *need* shoes outside. But with this newfound freedom (you’re welcome, toes) comes the chaos of the season. Unstructured days bring unpredictability, frustrations, and a great need for a few minutes of calm.
There are so many words that I could use to describe my journey and the different aspects of motherhood: elation, joy, completeness, love, fulfilling, frustrating, tiring, demanding, life-giving, life sapping. But looking back on my journey so far, a phrase I would use to encapsulate all of these words is “a courageous mission”.
I wasn’t sure I would ever be ready to be a mum.
I have always loved the idea of having children. I grew up with a sister and a small group of friends with big families. We went on a ton of vacations, visited extended family interstate often, celebrated every single birthday and, as I got older, family life only became deeper and more tight-knit as we worked through the throes of adulthood together. I knew I wanted to have my own children one day: two, and preferably girls (mainly so I could forcibly pass on all of my beautiful barbie dolls to them).
These were the upgrades I signed up for when I became a mum, or so I imagined.
I like surprises. When we got married I let my husband plan our whole honeymoon and delighted in being whisked away without a clue where we’d end up or what we’d do. I really enjoy the injection of the unexpected into everyday life.
Infertility was never a part of my plan.
I’ve always been slightly obsessed with babies. From an early age, you could have seen me wandering around my house and the neighborhood with a Bitty Baby, you know, the one from American Girl, strapped to my chest. My parents must have figured this was a sign that I needed siblings because they quickly had nine more children and until I left for college, my arms always had a baby to hold. When I got married at the ripe young age of twenty-one, I couldn’t wait to start a family of my own.
Recently my son Jackson and I were taking advantage of an unseasonally warm Sunday afternoon with one of his favourite activities; water play in the backyard. I watched, bemused, as he entertained himself with endless pouring from cup to bucket to water table, then back up into the cup to continue the cycle. The water mesmerizes him. He can play with water for hours, soaking himself from head to toe until he begins to shiver violently, and even then he screams in protest when I bundle him up in a soft towel and carry him inside to recover in a warm bath.
Some days are not so good and I’m not the best mother on those days. Some days I don’t deserve to be your mother. But my prayer is that you won’t remember these days and you will never doubt how much I love you…
Two of my least favourite terms in the whole world are pre-baby body and post-baby body. Google ‘pre-baby body’ and you get an astounding 13 000 000 results. ‘Post-baby body’ is even worse, coming in at 50 000 000 results. 63 000 000 results in total, most of them dedicated to showing you the way to have a fabulous post-baby body. We live in a society where it has become a badge of honour if you can erase pregnancy from your body as quickly as possible. Celebrities lead the way of course and society follows dutifully, trying to live up to an image made possible only with personal trainers, chefs, rigorous schedules and of course good lighting, plastic surgery plus in many cases just plain old good genes.