The lights were very dim. It was almost 3:00 in the morning, and the bright overhead lights were (thankfully) broken, so all we were left with was a small, portable lamp. You could see shadows dancing across the walls. It was warm in there, but I was shaking to my core, part because of the cold I felt and part out of fear. They told me to push. I did. And out she came. All 19.5 inches of her. They held her up. Then they put her on my chest. I started consoling her tears, so they whisked her away to the warmer saying that she needed to cry to clear her lungs.
I knew at that moment my world had changed. What I didn’t know was that out of all of the moments that I will ever live, that one along with my first moment with my younger girls, would be the ones I would replay most frequently.
I didn’t realize that this moment when my world became suddenly larger would confuse me. I didn’t realize that it would be the day I would gauge all others from. As in, “how could she be walking? That late May day seems like just yesterday.” Or “how could she be starting first grade? It was just moments ago that they gave her to me, her cheeks so soft that I could barely feel them?”
And yet, that is the day that changed it all. The day that propelled me into motherhood and sent me on this journey that is more big and more real and more heartbreaking than I ever could have imagined.
They tell you that you need to grieve. They say that there are many situations in life where grief is appropriate and that we must give ourselves space to feel it. And honestly, I find that motherhood gives me more options for grief than any other role I have taken on.
And it’s a bittersweet grief. It’s not the all-encompassing grief of the end of a relationship. Instead, it’s a grieving of each step taken, never to be taken again. Of each new leg of the journey that has passed us by. Of each new place it has taken us and then let us off.
And it’s a grieving of ourselves as mothers too. For each new step they take, our role changes ever so slightly. Their needs are different, their desires are different, and so our lives are different.
And so that’s why I have felt this pain in my chest over the last few days. First grade is hard. It’s the first time in six years, she won’t be eating lunch with me every day. I’m losing my nap time buddy. For the first time ever, she will be spending more waking time away from me than with me during the week.
But it’s also a happy time. It’s a time of new discoveries and new paths and new adventures. Because just as each door closed changes motherhood so slightly, so does each door being opened.
And I can’t really make sense of that. I can’t wrap my little head around all of these very big emotions that these girls bring me. And tonight I don’t have to. It has been a long (albeit great) day, and I am just going to wrap myself up in a blanket and watch mindless television while I let my heart and my brain take a little breather.
Because on Wednesday she starts first grade. And not too long after that, Goose starts preschool. And there are a million tears to be shed and a million ways they will make me proud to be their mama. But tonight, the wounds are raw. And I won’t fight them. I will just let them be.
They are just a few more in the long line of a mama’s battle wounds.