Motherhood. A single word. A single word with infinite definitions and an arsenal of emotions. Motherhood. The single hardest role in my entire existence. The purest mission and cause of my being.
After four and a half years I am finally finding a rhythm to the beautiful entropic chaos that is now my life. I have hit a stride in the constant, overstimulating, ever bipolar experience of motherhood. But I know better than to only credit myself. Motherhood is meant to be shared, felt and experienced with other mothers. It was the connection of other mothers that drew me out. Their tired smiles, nervous laughs while their little one ceremoniously tantrumed, and their subtle nod of acknowledgment. The nod, that head tilt that said without words, "I see you. I believe in you. I'm here with you."
Motherhood struck me like a wave. A tsunami wave while my back was turned. With an unshakable marriage, struggling through two miscarriages, undergoing IVF and having read as much about newborns that my eyes could tolerate, I thought I was ready to become a mother for anything motherhood had to through at me. I thought wrong.
I'm sure there are pyramids of data around the physical and mental transformation women undergo while becoming a mother. I probably read a passage or two about it. But nothing could have adequately prepared me for the mind dissection I was about to undergo.
Never in my life have I embodied these emotions or felt the sting of their sensations. Social anxiety. Mood instability. Postpartum Depression. Their words on page do not do their significance justice. The suffering, solitude and trauma they inflict is unforgiving.
Recalling that period of my life makes my soul shudder. My life felt like it was in shambles. My husband, Cody, was a holdfast for our family, for me. He filled all the gaps in our life I formally filled. If he could have willed me better, he would have, but healing comes from within and the encouragement I needed was from myself. Nevertheless he never stopped and ever so gently he heartened me forward. He too was a new parent and sometimes, more than not, in the fog of my postpartum dilemma I forgot that.
On a particularly trying morning Cody encouraged me to get out into the fresh spring air. After making it to an empty neighborhood park, unable to will myself to do anything else, I sunk into a swing. Clutching the swing chain in one hand while my other arm cradled my infant. By fate or luck the saving grace of my motherhood started arriving stroller by stroller. I watched as this group of moms filled the park.
They came for a fitness class, but stayed for the camaraderie. I watched on as they worked out, while simultaneously tending to their children. I stood from my swing and made to exit the park. It was then that the eyes of one of the mothers caught my gaze. I knew she saw me. Me. The struggle, the fight within and I'm eternally grateful for her approach, welcoming me to join them one day.
And so on a day I was ready, I did. Piece by piece, stories, encouragement and connection by connection, I found stride. I found my inner encouragement with them, a tribe of moms, SLAM. I uncovered fragments of myself that allowed me to build a new version of my old self.
The month of May is Maternal Mental Health Month. Twice I have joined my tribe "Climb Out of The Dark". Twice I have done this climb and twice I have discovered a part of me waiting to be released into the light. There are triumphant stories and stories of current dark struggles. We hike a physical elevation to represent and bring light to the maternal mental climb we have undergone and/or are currently undergoing. We do it together. And together we find our stride.