To be a mom

I was never one of those girls who dreamt of her wedding. I never dreamt of babies or being a wife. I climbed trees, hid stray animals and dreamt of exploring the world. I’ve had an independent spirit from as far back as I can remember.

My life changed when I fell pregnant at the age of 22 – the devastation gave way to instantaneous, glorious, immovable love the second I gave birth to this blue wrinkled squawking person. She suckled without me showing her how and fiercely took hold of my heart.  Her guns were blazing in such a way that her entrance to this world was followed by two surgeries on me. For 3 months she cried solidly and I paced the floors with her at night, finally giving us a full nights rest shortly before her second birthday. As she grew her eyes became firmly fixed on me. What I said, what I wore, what I laughed at. This resistance grew inside me. A resistance to being someone’s role model when I knew all the messiness that lay beneath my surface. As much as I resisted and tried to point her in other directions, her homing pigeon kept returning to me. I balanced my course books on one knee and her on the other, while completing my honours degree. More than anything I want this girl to know she didn’t stop me from educating myself. Shortly after I graduated I went to work – 10 hours here, 4 hours there – whatever I could fit around her.

I birthed our boy 4 yrs after his sister. He was quieter, complained less and slept more. But with his birth came the onset of a depression and disease that ravaged my body. I sunk into a darkness and my body withered to the point of dreading the morning. My joints ached, my hair fell out and I shivered continuously. Surely my babies were better off without me.  Through all of this it was the smell of my baby that kept me going. There is something almost primal about smelling your baby. It awakens resilience within you. 7 months later we discovered I had an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s.  I was put on treatment and continue to manage it.

After the second baby I started to become more comfortable with the idea of being a mom. I started enjoying the puzzles, the baking, the colouring in, the Richard Scarry ad nauseum. I started seeing how quickly these little people learn and grow and change. I started feeling a warm, soft, gentleness wash over me when teaching, explaining and disciplining. Instead of the usual feeling of suffocation when being touched, licked (yes- my sons a licker), pushed and pulled – it has given way to being fluid in this movement and allowing them to feel my body touching them and consoling them. Being a mom has never come naturally to me but at some point I guess it just melded into me.

The intersection of the momness,  wifeness and professionalness . Why is it so unacceptable to want to be a mom and a professional? Why do we make women choose? Don’t assume I will fall into line. I am not you. I am me. I am a mom, I am a wife and I have ambitions. Why must I prescribe to your one dimensional idea of what a working mom is.  Why can’t I achieve, create, meet, design, persevere? Why can’t I take my kids to school, catch tadpoles and kiss them when they fall?

To be a mom means to achieve the things you want, it’s going to be trickier.  To be a mom means there are barriers that are put up, decisions you will be forced to make.  To be a mom means the workplace is not kind to you. To be a mom means your babies always form part of that choice. When there is a choice to be made, you listen to that still small voice that says “I will make a way for you”. I have battled unplanned pregnancy, traumatic birth, sleeplessness, depression, chronic illness and my own personal demons. Still I stand and still my choice is the same. I choose you.

[For the next post in this series, meet Bek Curist, who because she is Australian, writes on, ‘To Be a Mum’]