This is a letter that I wrote a few years ago.
I am sharing it here, as I begin this online journey because it captures my frame of mind and emotion in a way that few others can. I am many people, and one of those is a mother.
To understand my work, is also to understand how my different roles and experiences intersect with each other, and with others’, to inform my vision and my purpose.
Thank you for taking the time to walk with me.
One of the most nostalgic days I will ever experience, celebrating the first days of the life of my precious firstborn baby.
I look in the mirror and realise I am so much more this year and thus forevermore – a lifelong child, friend, and sibling, now official partner, and parent.
In the weeks leading up to today I have aged decades. To quote a thoughtful friend “It’s easy, today, to forget how dangerous a birth can be…”
One day I will share in more detail, but for now I will simply pause to apologise, to appreciate, and to acknowledge.
To my mummy friends who became mothers before me – I did not know how to best support you at the time – I am deeply sorry. Experience has been my education. It’s a sad truth, but I never really knew how much parents, and especially women sacrifice during and after child delivery. This new responsibility is all-encompassing, and takes a toll on our bodies, our emotions, and our time that is overwhelming.
I finally see how the first days of motherhood are the happiest and simultaneously can be the loneliest of our lives. The expectations for mums to be jolly, receptive, and entertaining straightaway can be unrealistic and sometimes harmful when we are in extreme physical pain and / or managing psychological trauma after coming so close to death during birth, our own and / or our child’s. It’s a strange world in which (first-time) motherhood is judged critically, and expected to be shared and performed both immediately and publicly. Somehow you persevered and your resilience today, gives me hope for better days. I am sorry that you walked much of those journeys without me.
You are magnificent, and I promise to be more present in more effective ways in future.
My experience has been blessed by community, including and especially you.
I thank my family and friends who have been patient in our silence, those who have been silent but faithful in their support, and those who have been supportive of what they do not understand, and understanding of what they do not know.
Thank you for not rushing my recovery. Thank you for putting our needs first, defending our privacy, and respecting our wishes. It is important that you know that we are doing well now because of your care, compassion and consideration.
Please do not underestimate the power of every text message, missed call, congratulatory card, plate of food, gift or even a greeting you passed on through someone else. Yes, you. I heard you, I felt it, and it helped in ways difficult to describe. Your positivity has been inspiring and energising. I am sorry that I have been slow to reply, I am still working on to responses to each gesture individually. Please know that I am grateful. Those simple things. You reminded me of who I am. When I was isolated in distance and time, you filled those gaps with memories and reassurance.
I appreciate you, my siblings who are beside me in every trial, and my friends who comfort me and make me smile. Thank you for being sad for the things that upset me, and happy for me in this very special time.
Most of all I am grateful for my husband, whose love is loyal and gives me strength. You have taken our broken dreams and redesigned them into unexpected triumphs. You find ways to make us laugh everyday… I continue because we continue, and your fatherhood is the solid foundation of our family.
I am grateful for parents – my mum, whose love is healing and creates peace; and my dad, whose love is wise and guides me to safety. You exemplify good parenthood even when your own hearts are broken. Thank you especially mum, you are objectively the best person in the world.
Then there is my child.
My dear precious baby who I now live for.. Your love is the most generous, kind, and unconditional. Thank you for trusting me. I love you entirely.
We are still in the middle of our journey and we will need more milestones to progress before we can say things are “normal” or a “new normal”. But we are on our way.
By grace, not only are we healthy and happy, but we feel healthy and happy.
I reflect on this particularly this birthday morning, as I am reminded again of the gravity and complexity of this experience. I just said goodbye for the last time to a new friend, a fellow first-time mum who lost her battle with postpartum depression…
Our short time together changed my life for the better. In my grief and in her honour, I dedicate today.
One of the most nostalgic days I will ever experience, welcoming my first year of many as a special category of imperfect hero, a mother.