I let the sun hit my face before rolling over and reaching for my coffee mug. Sean had brought me a fresh cup this morning, placing it just far enough away on my nightstand to require my full attention. It is Monday and the house is silent; a contrast from yesterday when we awoke to the low rumble of thunder, vibrating from the pit of the sky’s stomach, full of rain and craving release. June, too, heard it, awoke and wildly squealed from her crib as she sat playing with her toy monkey: the chosen victim for her favorite game “Poke the Eyes”. But today, no sounds escape from the sky or her nursery and I am grateful for the chance to write and enjoy my coffee.
There is something about motherhood that has brought a stillness to my days. I no longer fight with myself for success or speed. Perfection has long since flown from the window, like a fly caught in the wind. In having June, I suddenly realize how hard I have been fighting the current. Was it ever as hard as I made it out to be? Now I surrender myself to the days, the hours, the pull of the moon, letting myself float upon the river, looking only to the sun for direction.
There is an unedited short story saved on my computer begging for attention and another half-finished essay on childbirth sitting quietly beside it. I have been thinking about this essay for months now, piecing small sentences together in my head, trying to make sense of it all before spinning them into the fabric. It is hard to find the time for creative work with a baby digging in my house plants, crawling madly and standing up on anything that doesn’t fall on her first. Soon, I will get to it, I promise to myself. I am learning to be okay with the unfinished creative process.
At a party a few weeks ago someone asked me if I struggled with not being able to do everything I wanted to do? Was motherhood a challenge in losing yourself? I sat thinking about my answer for a minute and was interrupted by another woman before I could express what I wanted to tell her….
For as much as motherhood is a loss of self, there also grows a new limb of life: a growth of yourself you cannot expect or understand. And these extending branches come to define which type of tree you are. When once you considered yourself a pine among thousands, you are now an oak, full and rounded, exploding with life and wisdom.
The vastness of your new limb can surprise you; budding with beauty one day and the next weighing you down with heavy offerings of fruits, leaving you exhausted, sagging to the ground. Just as one season you feel adorned, the next season you are naught with barren limbs: stripped, naked, and alone.
There is nothing consistent about motherhood, only a willingness to endure. We cannot predict the winters we will withstand or the heat of the summers. It is possible we will whither and blossom and die one thousand times over again and again. But, it is not in vain that we survive. And we must hold on to that truth.
Motherhood is all consuming, all defining. I could warn you that the world outside will only notice the flowers blossoms, never the struggle inside, but would good would that do? They may never know how many rings are in your core or how much water you thirst for, but what is the harm in that? You should remember that motherhood is clouted daily but never uprooted completely. We are built to withstand the storm. Even when the storm is within.
In motherhood, I am learning to become okay with half-way, too; to laugh at my imperfections and accept the madness of today. I forget what I went to the grocery store for, I drop my phone in parking lots, I find the milk in the cupboard and by the end of the night as I pour my soul a glass of wine, I cannot string together coherent sentences.
To be fair to myself, I must remember that I am learning the meaning of “unconditional”, I am thriving in the season of the unknown, I am blossoming as much from my daughter as I am from my own will. Eventually, the stories will be written, the dishes will be done and the trash will go outside. They do not all have to happen now. Yesterday is not a precedent for today. Today is unfinished and possibly will never be complete— who am I to say? All I can do is let the sun hit my skin a little longer while I savor the hazelnut trimmings of my coffee and wait for the wild thing to awaken.