A graduation of sorts…except there’s no diploma just a toddler. A walking, shrieking, joyful, maniac of a toddler. The diploma is easier…you frame it, you put it on the wall a tangible sign that you’ve done something. In motherhood there’s just doing…constant, never ending doing of things.
Making the lunches, wiping the tears, playing the games, changing and changing and changing the 4 year olds clothes which are really costumes that allow her to explore her ever growing imagination and the joys and fears that come with that. As I leave the postpartum period behind with the youngest I also find myself on the cusp of the 4 year anniversary of my motherhood and wow has it been different than I thought:
More of everything in every direction. Harder, sadder, more challenging yet also filled with more love and laughter and joy than I could have imagined…it’s weakened and then strengthened my marriage and it’s solidified my love for being a woman and for the power that we hold in the vulnerability of motherhood. To love a child is to also have to figure out how to love yourself. A mother of 2 daughters which now requires me to figure out what kind of woman I want them to see in me. Vulnerability and strength or is it that vulnerability is the strength. Strength in knowing that feelings give you information and information is power. Teaching them that they have control of their own bodies and choices while cursing this choice under my breath when I have to change the 4-year old who no longer wants to be a mermaid princess but now a baby lamb which requires a new outfit, headpiece and shoes.
The biggest takeaway from this past 4 years of motherhood and the end of my last postpartum period is that all things are true. This is the hardest and most joyful thing I’ve ever done. I can’t imagine being anywhere else and simultaneously crave my space. I want to hold them tight and let them go. I can see them as babies and I can imagine them as adults, already having left me to live their lives. A constant state of joy and grief. That is to be a mother. I will walk into the next stage as I did into new motherhood; not knowing what I’m doing, faking it, and continuing to embrace the beautiful duality that is this enterprise; the relentless and beautiful journey.
Mara Watts is a PMAD survivor, gifted therapist, and dedicated support group leader. Mara is living her best life with her two amazing little girls and husband Brian in Burke VA.