Becoming a Mother
Maybe it's because it's the most recent or maybe it really has been the deepest experience of my life, but today I'm starting my reflections with becoming a mother.
Like many to-be-mothers I spent my pregnancies fantasizing about the children I would have, the cute outfits they would wear, the sweet, woven bassinet they would sleep in and the adventures we would take. How we would spend the days together, shopping, watching Ellen, going for walks around the neighbourhood in between naps. I thought I would go for workouts while my baby was cared for at Child Minding and spend leisurely evenings with friends while my baby slept sweetly in the other room.
I realize some mothers really do experience all of those sweet things, and I did experience sweet things - I just didn't really notice.
The anxiety that set in within days of having Stetson, my first son, set a thick veil around me. I look back at photos and I know I smiled, I know I laughed. But I also remember how it felt. I remember feeling like life was just going on around me, while I watched from inside my bell jar. I've written about my experience a couple of times, so I won't rewrite something that's already there - the fear, the loneliness, numbness and anxiety.
I often refer to this experience as darkness. And it was, it is the lowest I have ever felt, the most anxious, afraid and generally unlike myself. The further out of the darkness I emerge, the more I realize how dark it was. For me, it wasn't something I was completely aware of while experiencing it. Now, standing in the light most days, I'm grateful. I am grateful for what darkness can do and for the depth it has added to my life. After all, lightness without shade, has no dimension, just ask Rembrandt. A figure lays flat on the canvas until shade, shadows and darkness are added in the right spots.
When I watch my sons treat each other with kindness, give each other a kiss or a hug, say hello to a stranger or smile at a familiar face - I know where my light went for those years. It was busy being borrowed, it was busy lighting a new flame in a new human. It's almost like a fire - you know when you light a candle and at first it seems the match might go out itself? And then just as you think this, the wick catches and the flame grows? That's what it feels like to me.
The indescribable joy that I feel now, experiencing different things with my sons, matches the depth of the lows that I once felt. The anxiety has been replaced with a calm confidence that feels earned. I have a hard time believing those joys would be felt so deeply for me, if I had not experienced their opposite. Together, the dark and the light have helped to shape me, to give me depth and bring me to an even higher state of feeling, experiencing and living. My biggest hope is that anyone who has experienced or is experiencing that darkness will in turn, experience the light they so deserve to.