Inspired by the book THE BODIES OF MOTHERS by Jane Beall, I’m sharing this image of myself and the raw truth of my experience. The purpose of this post is partially to remind myself of my own innate beauty, and partially because I feel compelled to remind other women of theirs. The following thoughts were sparked by a mother who, through her own bitterness, helped me realize that I want to stop feeding the bitter voice in my head.
To the woman behind the till at the grocery store today, the one who told me she has two sets of twins, you could have said something else. You didn’t have to say, “They’re easy at this age, wait until they’re eight.” You didn’t have to tell a mother of twin two-year-olds that it just gets harder from this point out.
You could have said, “Sure, it’s hard, but they’re such a blessing. Try to be kind with yourself, be gentle. There is so much love amidst the chaos.”
That’s what I needed to hear.
Because, honestly, most days I’m barely holding it together.
I can label it postpartum depression, blame the anxiety on hormones from weaning, own up to the lack of sleep from staying up writing because it’s the one thing I have that is truly mine… but the simple fact is, it’s fucking hard.
Being a mother is one of the most beautiful things I could ever be. My sons are exquisite, miraculous, wonderful. They’re healthy and I’m healthy and I should be grateful every moment of every day.
But gratitude is hard to find when my two children are wailing and fighting me with every ounce of their considerable power. In those moments, it’s all too easy to think, “I shouldn’t be a mother. Biggest mistake ever.”
Guilt follows those thoughts when they come, and they come more often than I’d like to admit. Shame, Guilt’s side-kick, scrapes at my throat and weaves a thick iron web around my heart. How dare I mourn myself when I should be attending the needs of my children? They’re innocent and beautiful, they don’t deserve a mother who questions whether she ought to have given them life.
It’s work to accept myself in this new body that has stretch marks and extra skin from carrying twins, to accept the inner scars that draw me into the traps of depression. It’s work to train my thoughts to turn to something nourishing rather than indulge the sick taunts of Guilt and Shame. It’s work to not be in constant fear; recurrent anxiety licking wounds in my consciousness, filling my mind with What If’s and images of disaster.
It’s work to be the mother I want to be, to show my children joy and not get pulled into the jagged patterns of self-loathing. And all this work is on top of the non-stop chores and insanity that comes with being a mostly-single mother of twins.
But even though it’s hard work, it’s important and worthwhile. I’m blessed with this capable, beautiful body. I’m blessed with this infinite, creative mind. I’m blessed with this sparkling, eternal soul.
I’m blessed with two radiant star-children.
I don’t want to be the bitter woman I saw in you today, you who have two sets of grown twins, who told me I’m in for hard times. I don’t want to feed that bitterness inside of myself. It’s already too well-fed, too often in my thoughts and words.
So I’m going to pretend you told me being a mother was the best thing you ever did; that it was difficult, but that every moment is so precious.
We hear it all the time: be present, enjoy every moment, the time passes so quickly. Maybe that’s too much to ask, to enjoy every moment. To cherish every emotion. To stay fully aware when there’s a world of hurt inside. But I can aim for kindness, endeavour to be more gentle with myself, invite more moments of gratitude into the whirlwind of my life.
Because, even if it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, there truly is love amidst the chaos.