Sometimes it's hard for me to think about that first year of motherhood.
For me, it was hard. Incredibly hard. The violence that was Tannah's birth left me with PTSD and the injury that she sustained from being dragged out by her scalp left her in a lot of pain. There were lots of tears. Hers and mine. It only occurred to me about a year ago that maybe sobbing in the shower and while I drove around in the car every day is not what's considered in the realm of coping. I felt like a constant failure. I used to lie on the floor with my baby and watch the clock until Luke got home. I was not expecting Motherhood to be so damn HARD. I never knew it was possible to be awake for that long without amphetamines. I still remember trying to make a speech at Tannah's first birthday and crying so hard I couldn't speak. Everyone thought I was moved by emotion but truthfully I was so exhilarated that I'd made it a year-I was alive!
And I'll admit a big part of my grief was for my old life. And feeling bad that I was grieving.
I have had times over the years where it has felt like I have given up too much. Times when I have yearned for spontaneity, sleep ins, my body to be my own, silence and sex.
But recently I have discovered that you don't really give up these things. You just shelve some of them for a while.
Last week, when I had the flu, I took cold and flu medication. This might seem like a little thing but after 7 years of being pregnant and/or breastfeeding it was nice to have that option back on the table. After years of being awake for large periods of time every night I am now only being woken briefly a couple of times-and sometimes I get 8 hours unbroken sleep. True! The girls are big enough for a bit more spontaneity. It may take me an extra 20 minutes to pack a bag but I know that we can shoot off to the other side of town with an hours notice. And as for sex....well that's slowly but surely making a comeback too.
I can honestly say that my old life doesn't feel gone anymore. It just feels different. New and improved even. Rather than feeling like my old life died and wallowing in grief for how things were I feel like my life evolved and I have become better for it. It has only been in the last few months that I have not felt regularly overwhelmed by the enormity of raising my amazing girls-and raising them well. Having 3 children (and 2 miscarriages) in 4 years has certainly tested me in ways that have, at times, been exhausting, frustrating and just plain hard. I have had times where I felt like I have lost myself and wished for daycare and full time employment.
But the secret is that I was here all along. Growing and evolving and sometimes waiting in the wings-but always there. I think sometimes the challenge of being a great parent can make us grow so much that we seem like a different person with a whole other life.
Kelly at Be A Fun Mum has written on the same topic today and her quote sums it up better that I could
So, if you’re in the midst of raising little kids, feeling weary and my story rings true to you, I’m telling you from the other side: What you are doing is vital, even when no one notices. It’s an investment, so keep on keeping on and keep on loving the moment. While it may not be clear now, you’ll look back and see all the moments for what they are: pieces of a beautiful masterpiece.