During childbirth, there’s a phase called transition. You move from riding contractions to the urge to push. Often, this is a time when you feel utterly convinced that you can’t do this any more. That your body wasn’t designed for this degree of effort.
I remember the sips of cold orange squash my husband gave me through a straw as I hit the wall during my own transition in labour just over 12 years ago. The sweet, icy energy and the tenderness of a husband in waiting. I stepped out of the birthing pool and into the bathroom of the delivery suite. From there my body took over. Determination, resurgence of physical strength, intense focus.
And then she was here. The moment of tearful announcement from my husband:
“it’s a little girl”
Holding her, wrapped in a towel, eyes dark as ink. Our new life begun.
I find myself in another ‘liminal’ space now that the little bundle has begun her life as a high school student. On the boundary between being needed and being in the way. Between parent and confidante. Sometimes the ‘cool mum’ who her friends like to be around, sometimes completely out of touch.
It’s definitely been unsettling, but most days it’s kind of fun. Our new life begins.
Little One is struggling.
Her ‘no’ is louder, more insistent – the frustration palpable when we can’t accommodate the refusal. When it’s getting dressed for school. When it’s time to go to bed and we can hear the exhaustion pouring out in her tears and protests.
Her body is stronger, like a bowstring tightened in anticipation of conflict. We tighten in response – doing our best to placate and soothe, to make it clear what’s happening next, to avoid friction. But all the while steeling ourselves, wondering how we’ll handle it the next time. Questioning ourselves. Feeling weary and tense.
School is boring. School ‘makes my brain hurt’. Maybe the world feels like a set of unattainable expectations at the moment. I don’t know…
I’m not going to ask myself for solutions today. I’m just going to feel. I feel sad, a bit tired, and a bit lost for ideas.
As parents we are sometimes caught up in the struggle, sometimes able to see our way through it. Little One had to go out with Dad and her Beaver Scout troop to join the Remembrance Day parade today. It’s cold out there, late in the day, and I understand why staying at home seemed a far better option. For the rest of the day, Jaffa Cakes and TV on the sofa with warm blankets will probably get us all through.
Life sometimes feels very squiggly when you are in a period of remission. You’re busy trying to rebuild life and pick up old threads but there is messiness in trying to find your equilibrium.
I used to feel quite scared of the scribble, the days when out of nowhere I don’t feel like getting up again or I find myself mind-busy and frazzled. But as you look at the featured image for this blog don’t you think that in some ways that the messy line is actually quite beautiful?
Quite a few things have been squiggling me lately (but I’m learning to accept them as part of the beautiful tangle of life and recovery). I was offered an ongoing role facilitating mums’ mental health courses from September this year. In many ways it’s the role I have been dreaming of – but I knew I had to turn it down at this point in my own life journey. I felt torn between guilt and relief as I sent off the email to say no. No is a hard thing, but a precious thing too.
Little One has been providing us with some very tangly challenges. The shift from winter to spring has really unsettled bedtimes and we have had more than a few nights of really screaming at the top of her voice “It’s day not night! I don’t go to bed in the day!” There have been moments of parenting genius like digging out the ‘Sunshine at Bedtime’ poem from Shirley Hughes Out and About collection. There have been many more moments of wondering what on earth to do and the pain of listening to an angry, crying child behind the bedroom door who is so very, very tired but doesn’t understand.
Eldest is going through her own messy time at the moment too and I’m there helping her to untangle some of it. There have been many cups of tea and slices of cheese on toast at the end of another upsetting day at school. Friendships for pre-teen girls have always been challenging and fraught, but it doesn’t make it any easier knowing this when your precious girl is in tears as she tries to be her authentic self and gets knocked back.
I had something of an epiphany in the midst of the tangles. I’ve been searching so long for that time I go “back to work” and I’m healed, whole, a functioning member of society again. That time when I’ll have the career success I imagined when I headed off to University back in 1994. But the thing is I already have a career. The most important, draining, fabulous, meaningful work I could have imagined. I’m a mother to Little One and Eldest. The paid work is going to have to continue to take a back seat, as much for my wholeness and well-being as theirs.