I used to say that when I had a child, that they would know that they were loved. But I had no idea what that would mean in action. I had no idea the length my patience would stretch. No idea that when it snapped, it would rebound back onto me, causing my heart to be stabbed with the words that flew like broken glass.
As mothers we all fall short at times, mostly of our own expectations. I often remind myself to speak gently, to get down on her level, but so often I feel like a failure. I worry. I worry a lot. I want to cocoon around her and just be. When she was a baby I (like many mothers before me) would just lie enthralled with her. I couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much. I’d ask mamas with 2 how it was, genuinely trying to understand.
And then there was to be two. I loved the idea of them so close. I dreamed of giggling and secret sharing. And then like waking, the loss hit. As time passed, and the lack of support abounded, I realized that the only secret sharing going on was that I was supposed to keep quiet about the pain that had ripped my future apart.
I threw myself into E, clinging to her out of a sheer desperation to not go over the cliff into despair. You see a lot clearer in the midst of trying to survive. I learned who in my life were acquaintances masquerading as friends rather than people I could actually talk to. I taught myself that silence was not the answer. That there is no shame in speaking out, because maybe if we all did, doctors wouldn’t give shit advice such as “it’ll be like a bad period.”
Because I went into labor. I pushed and instead of new beginnings it was an end to a path we had headed down.
This last year I learned what love in action meant. It was a small hand on my face as I sobbed. It was a husband not allowing me to believe that our fertility troubles were a punishment for my small failings as a mama. (That is one of the hardest thoughts I ever had to admit to.)
It was the moving through that to run in the sunshine. To blow bubbles. To kick a ball in ballet flats because my girl is going to be a footballer someday. To sit quietly and read books that I’m so tired of but she loves. And lately, my love in action is making things for her. To see her face light up when she sees a felt pancake. My heart melts as she tells her daddy in reverent tones that I made it for her. She’s so loved, and she radiates the knowledge of that.
I’m not trying to win “mama of the year” or come across as a better mama than others. I’m just cutting through the bullshit in this competitive game parenting has become and loving on my daughter through actively pursuing her heart. Loving your child might look different, and that’s fantastic. But life is too damn short and mercurial for me to worry about anything but making sure she knows without a doubt that the road that curved sharply the day we found out she was coming was the best damn road we’d ever come across.
We all have our own paths to take. I lost my way a year ago. I’m finding it now.