Motherhood: Bring it on
This morning, Saturday, I awake around 6.30, although I don’t need to today. As I do every morning, I cast my awareness around the other bedrooms in the house to take a register of its occupants: my children. With fluctuating arrangements, I’m never certain who’s here. A warm feeling, the kind you get after a sip of liqueur, Cointreau maybe, radiates through flesh and bone. Three of my children lay sleeping. For the first time in months we have no clubs to attend, nowhere to go and nothing to do.
There is an absence of the truth of motherhood from our stories. Not parenting, which gets regular outings, but motherhood. That visceral experience that whether we consciously choose it or not, is far from in the background where it appears to be, but looms large in every nook and cranny of our conscious and unconscious places. Motherhood changes us. Not just once. But relentlessly.
I am immersed in motherhood. I chose it. And yet I didn’t choose this exactly. I ask myself why I don’t talk about it, and I find shame there. It’s so all-pervading I can’t even identify specifics. Distinct shames around having a tidy house, or being divorced, or their fussy eating I outed and resolved a long time ago. The shame I’m talking about here is a kind of nebulous, elusive shame, around motherhood in its entirety. So cloud-like and wispy that I have to squint and hold my breath to see it.
It manifests in a clear choice to not bring motherhood into my ‘professional arena’, to not talk about my children in my business, in case I appear ‘less than’, in case it takes away from who I am, me, myself. Takes away! That is the biggest fallacy ever. Motherhood, in whichever guise, is the mystical gift that keeps on giving, each deep and moving revelation taking you through another, and yet another, portal of experience. How often it feels like something else though, when the cloak of awareness falls off in the rush to school, or parties or weekend activities, or in the scramble for truth in an upset or argument.
Motherhood is not parenting. Parenting is the practical day-to-day management of children. There are techniques and methods and they can be argued with and wrangled over forever. They go in trends. One year weaning your baby at eight weeks is optimum, the next you’re pilloried if you allow a morsel past their lips before four months. That is parenting. And you can’t win. Parenting is all about what you see, what takes place in the physical.
Motherhood takes place in the unseen. Motherhood is a bodily, physical and esoteric activation that takes place in your womb at the moment of conception. It is an essence.
If you have carried a child in your womb, you are a mother.
Whether that child made it earthside or not is irrelevant. You are still a mother.
If your child is estranged from you. Irrelevant. You are still a mother.
When your child lives with another parent. Still a mother.
I consciously chose motherhood. That makes this journey, while not easy, kind of powerful. Because I own it. Every messy, chaotic, filthy moment, every poo up the back, every refused meal, every toddler and teenage tantrum, I signed up for.
And if it shakes me and I quake to the core and it questions my very existence, then that too, is what I signed up for. Bring it on.