*This is a guest post
I have never thought that being a mother is easy. From the time my gorgeous son came into my world, I have to confess I found most things hard. I struggled with breastfeeding, day naps, sleeping through and eating. Both his and mine. But despite all the infant challenges, my little boy naturally came through it with all the resilience of childhood. I was never one of those women who pined for a child in their early twenties, or felt incomplete without one but yet when the doctor handed him to me, a wave of recognition cascaded over me and I was overjoyed.
Then the drugs wore off and I was the text book case of motherhood challenges for the first year; home visits from baby sleeping gurus, multiple bouts of mastitis, a week of sleeping boot camp and my own bout of insomnia; back to the drugs. While magazine covers glossed over sleepless nights and weight gain with parades of celebrities bouncing their newborns on their skinny laps, I used to think, “who are these people?”
As a new mother to an only child, I often shook my head in bewilderment that my own mother did this with twins, already with a small child. Not that she ever once spoke of the circus at dinner time or the juggling act each morning; it only popped into my head years later.
It’s the same for all our mothers in many ways. While they’re busy helping us to understand year 9 math’s, they’re silently wrestling with the end of a marriage, while they’re cheering us on in volleyball, they’re wondering what to do about our elder sibling who’s dropped out of college, while they’re busy packing our lunches at 6am, they’re tired and battling with menopause, unable to find a moment in the day to sit still. We never know this until later, because through all the years of our adolescence, they’ve learned to “keep mum” on things for our benefit, silencing their fears and sometimes their dreams.
These thoughts don’t cross our mind in the self absorbed years of being teenagers. It’s only years later when we learn of the years of broken hearts and lovers, miscarriages and despair that we start to get a taste of what our mothers went through while we grew up. And yet still the years come when we push our mothers away because they don’t get us that way we need, or give us what we want.
That one person who has led and shadowed us every step, who has faced the world with it weighing on their shoulders, who has cheered us through life like the ultimate “stage mum”, they’re the one person we choose to break free from. Still they do not waver.
When I think about it as an adult and see the emotional baggage we mum’s sometimes carry just to the school drop off and I think on some days we do well to get dinner on the table. More than likely, it was like that for our mothers too. All those times we felt let down, or wanted more from them, we had little idea of how life had let them down or they wanted more.
Sometimes it’s not until years later that we learn of their struggles, still all the time infusing love and positivity into their relationship with us. Silently, relentlessly, with the consistency of sunrise, our mothers pushed through making it possible for us to do the same. We learn the fortitude of motherhood, from a lesson given in silence that we only recognise later. It’s the kind of love that only goes one way; forward.
Lee Grewal is the author of the blog Adventure In Our Teacups.