Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A day for mothers?

A single day.


One day to speak of their growing bodies, wild weeds shooting up and out in every direction.

A day to speak of firsts; steps, words, songs, scraped knees, falls, emergency room visits.

One day to speak of this love, so fierce and overwhelming you could never have imagined the force of it.   This love that makes you braver and infinitely fiercer in the world; there are bigger things than you, now.  This love that could make you a murderer, without remorse or backward glance, if anyone dared to try and hurt them.  This love that inhabits you, every part of you, always.

A day to speak of this body, this mother's body, a roadmap of scarred tissue, stretch marks, hemorrhoids, skin that flops, nipples left huge from more than three years of breastfeeding.  This body they used to take residence in, and now leapfrog over, climb like a tree and wallop with pillows.  This body that grew with them, swelled to make room.  This body that turned itself inside out to wrench them into this world, that bore pain so breathtaking, so horrible and piercing and exquisite that you became otherworldly; this body that carries them still.

One day to speak of fear, the pounding heart; the million miles an hour drive to school to pick up who knows how badly hurt child; the worry of night-time croup gasping wracking tiny bodies; the what-if-something-is-wrong-with-them's; the terrors that have kept you awake at night for over five years -  What if?... What if?... What if?... What if I am not strong enough to do this thing?  What if I lose myself?  What if I lose them?

A day to speak of the time you did lose him.  The swollen Folk Festival crowds loud and oblivious to your frantic, searching eyes, the dull thudding of your heart, the horror-movie film reel playing over and over and across your mind, rapid-fire, relentless.  How your knees buckled when you finally saw his sweet face, fifteen minutes later, and you fell to the ground, holding your baby in one arm and grabbing your child with the other.  How you held them both so tightly, they loudly protested the squash.  How you didn't lose it until afterwards, without them, in line for food.  How you were unable to stop the heaving chest and tears streaming down your face.  The heart pounding, gut-wrenching onslaught of terror and relief.

One day to speak of drudgery.  Of work.  Of an occupation in which the work is entirely invisible.   Of laundry piled up to the ceiling, and the endless encroaching of toys.  Of finding airplanes and lego and food crumbs between your bedsheets, under your feet, everywhere.  Of deciding what to make for dinner, ceaselessly,which no one will eat anyways.  Of never having enough time.  Of repeating tasks that are at once necessary and useless.  They can never be finished, only undone.  Of the constant tension between trying to be that 'fun mom' and somehow complete one or two of the days tasks.  Of how this is your undoing, daily.

A day to speak of anger.  Of the large scale, the realization that everything has changed.  You have changed.  You brought children into the world, and suddenly, everything you are became "mother."  It is how you are identified, it is the sum total of how you are read.  And yes, yes you know that you cannot have it all.  There are plenty of people to remind you of this.  You cannot be everything.  But still you will kill yourself trying.   To have a self.  To be the mom they need. And there will always be someone, many someones, to tell you of how you are doing it wrong.  You know it will never be enough.  It is impossible.  And of the small scale, the clenched fists, the locked jaw, the attempts to hold on, hold on, hold on to that hair trigger temper as those little loves push you, far, far, far beyond where anyone's frustration could hold.  Anger at how often you fail in this.  Anger at how much you try.  Anger at how hard this is; and how no one ever told you this is how it would be, and how you never would have believed them anyways.

One day to speak of the look of approval you get from other say-at-home mom's when you admit to being the same.  Of the looks of pity and dismissal you get from others when they ask at parties or over dinners: "And what is it you do?" or  "So when are you going BACK to work?"  Of how you want neither their approval nor their pity.  Of how this space between the rock and the hard place feels strange and unwieldy: a foreign terrain and one you never thought you would inhabit.

A day to cram in: government policies that pay you lip service and do you no favours at all; split lips; full heart; the shit work no one wants to do; swing pushes; a world that alternately sees mothering as unimportant and omni-important; snuggles; tantrums; decisions that will never again just affect you; damage control; eroding sense of selfhood; invisibility; unequal division of labour; desexualization; kitchen dance parties; piggy backs; tickle fights; middle of the night interruptions; chicken pox and head lice and pink eye; school meetings and homework; researching special needs care; and the actual caring; car pooling; anxiety and fear and pride and rage and joy and frustration; play dates; people's preconceived notions of you; your job; your worth in the world; exhaustion, always; the struggle to raise these small humans to be kind, loving, gentle people.

A day to cram in love.

One day.  Just one.

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