Friday, May 11, 2018

The Right Words

There are popular sayings I don't relate to on the topic of motherhood. I've never felt it is an experience of my heart walking outside of my body; the girls are their own people, with their own hearts. I cringed when my therapist reminded me that motherhood is about remembering to put my own oxygen mask on first. I am not obsessed with wine or coffee. It has always felt too foreign to me to describe motherhood in terms used by everyone else. How could anyone else understand my motherhood? Those first few months as a mother in Ross River, Yukon, were isolating, frightening, overwhelming and not at all what I had been promised. I was 23 (23!), far away from my own mother, with a colicky baby, and heaps of well-meaning advice that proved useless within the first weeks.

My entrance to motherhood was framed in isolation in a place where resources were quite limited. I had little choice but to figure it out on my own. I learned to love baby Abby and my new role slowly, but surely. Soon after I settled into the acceptance of what I had undertaken, the rug was pulled out from under me. I started walking the long journey of infertility and multiple losses. No longer were baby showers fun excuses for cupcakes and gushing over impossibly small sleepers. Nobody could undo my pain, so I learned to be a grieving mother. 

When my belly grew with Hailey and Robin, I felt high, like I could inhale after holding my breath so long I grew delirious. People had their comments and cliches about twins, but I had secrets inside me. Secrets like how it felt to be so desperate for a baby I would gladly tear off my skin so my heart could be exposed as raw as it felt. Secrets like no matter what anybody else had read or said to me, motherhood was a coiled serpent, beautiful but ready to bite me with poison if I dared ask for it with an outstretched hand.

They were born, and so was I. I was set free from expectations, from holding my breath. They were beautiful babies. I felt like a Divine Mary kind of mother, like I lived in a painting from the 1700s, with a busy, layered background, a well-lit mother who gazed adoringly at her babe, awash with a serenity known only by those touched by God.

I was terrified to become pregnant again so soon, unplanned. Buddhists say we are challenged with lessons over and over until we learn them. There was chaos, and I felt cheated. I felt I had earned what I had and nothing, not even divine forces, should be allowed to interfere. I was humbled, tested, and became unrecognizable to myself for a time. I shed that skin and came out evolved. No cute T-shirt slogans for that hot mess.

Today, I still feel like motherhood is my secret hideaway. I may wear children on my arms and hands as we cross the street en masse, but there is so much more to it than anyone else could possibly know. No one outside the walls of my heart's four chambers can put the right words to what it means to me. I will take great joy in receiving handmade gifts from my girls on Sunday, knowing full well that we are unequipped with the language to express our heartsong. Long is the hallway I have walked, crawled, limped to this place, this priceless secret.

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