Someone posted a photo the other day from this time last year, (Dec 2019) and to anyone looking in on the outside they would see a group of smiling faces having a lovely time but it made me feel physically sick remembering how I felt at that time! They say a photo speaks a thousand words but I’m not sure even a thousand words could even express what I felt back then. Exhausted, unheard, broken, unsure, scared, overwhelmed, petrified that what I felt would never end and that I would never be heard.
The photo didn’t show the hours that I had spent getting ready in order to participate in a group gathering for the first time in 5 months (this is pre Covid). It didn’t show the hours I had agonised over what to wear and trawled through the internet to find something I felt happy in, my postpartum body was not my friend back then and my boobs still seemed to have a mind of their own. It didn’t show you that as soon as I put my baby in the car she screamed all the way there. That should have been my clue but I was determined to continue anyway and engage in something that I considered to be normal and part of my life before becoming a mum. It doesn’t show that about 10 mins after the photo was taken, I left. I put her back in the car and she went straight to sleep, this time I cried all the way home. That photo didn’t show the tears, the frustration, the resentment, the exhaustion that I truly felt. But what it does do now is act as a painful reminder of experience, it also acts as a marking point of how much has changed. When people said to me last year, ‘it won’t last forever’ I didn’t believe them, truly I didn't: it felt so difficult and something that I was so ill-equipped to deal with. But now, 12 months and a global pandemic later I can see that they were right. It does end. Not in a clear, blinding light kind of way but in a slow and steady way that happens so gradually that you don’t see it end, you just see what the next phase begins to look like, which again starts and ends as gradually as it started.
5 months vs 17 months! There is no comparison, the struggles back then have given way to new ones but as they grow, so do you, as a mama, as a woman, as a human. And even though there are some days when I have no idea what is going on and can feel myself sink to a place that isn’t able to see the joy, it’s better. All of it. And even though it made me want to cry when I saw that photograph it makes me feel proud of myself and all mamas. The endless nights, the teething, the constant need and the not giving up even if that's all you want to do some days.
Who knows what next year will bring but I will always have that photo as a reminder of how far I’ve come.
*For anyone reading this who feels overwhelmed, please believe me when I say it gets better, some things get easier, it all moves on and you will grow
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