I was halfway to my parents’ this morning to celebrate my mother’s Mother’s Day when I suddenly remembered I had a baby in the back seat.
Double checking to see if it was mine (turns out it was), it dawned on me that this was my first Mother’s Day: this day was also for me!
With that realisation came an awareness that I’ve been through a lot over the last 7 (plus 9) months, and my first Mother’s Day provides a nice mental checkpoint to reflect on those experiences and insights with the hope that they might be of some comfort and humour for others.
Motherhood is a death and a rebirth
Motherhood, like the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, blows such strong desert winds at you that you can almost see bits of both your past self and idealised future self crumble and fall away. I guess it is the death of a loved one (your identity) and the end of a relationship (with the world as you knew it). If I sound a little dramatic it’s because it’s the aspect of motherhood I hadn’t anticipated. I thought it would be a swifter, softer and more glowing, honey-hued transition to madonna status.
Those first few months, the ‘fourth trimester’, is in many ways a fight against being burnt down to (allegedly) begin anew. The real burning of course is your nipples, being yanked so far back they look like stretched chewing gum, by a baby pissed off at your slow flow (my little one also then strummed the stretched skin like strings on a carcass double bass).
Like all transitions, there is upheaval of normal thinking and time. Lactation hormones sluggify and sedate your once perky mind so you'll sit and feed your baby. My doctor really helped me by pointing out that it is no longer useful thinking of life as night and day. It's now, she said, ongoing 4-hour cycles. An old friend, a mother of three, instructed me to go to bed at 8pm, at least for a couple of months.
At some point, around the 5-8 week mark, I finally began to embrace this death. Like countless women before me, I hugged my former self and accepted the inevitable, like those characters in Rogue One who hug each other and embrace the oncoming blast of a Death Star.