Motherhood is a mirror. And it hides nothing.
Every dark, desperate thought and every lofty, glorious goal that has ever drifted in your head will reflect back at you when that mirror is held up. As you watch these beings grow, and then toddle away from your safe circle, you will find yourself simultaneously grieving the life you left behind, and vowing to change the world, one misguided soul at a time.
At least, that’s how it’s been for me. My journey is paved with love, anger, guilt, joy, gratitude, jealousy, and hope. It is the best of me, and the worst.
And I had no idea it would be this way. Nobody lied to me, but nobody told me the truth. I observed the clues with my childish eyes but didn’t realize they added up to something big. The clues? My mother crying in her bedroom, exhausted and defeated. Her face lighting up when my brother and I returned from camp. The lovey-dovey nicknames she used for us, and the angry words that spewed from that same mouth. The many faces of motherhood that show up in that mirror.
It’s a mirror you inherit when you promise to raise an extension of yourself. Because that’s what these little people are. Every little thing about them that makes you tug at your hair or stare in wonder is a part of something that has come before. That’s why you catch a glimpse of the recognizable or feel the gentle breath of deja-vu blow over you in a fleeting moment.
I watch my toddler grab a toy from her brother’s hand, and yell, “Mine!” and I think of all the ways I announce the same thing – my studio, my kitchen, my special pens, my time.
I wrap up my oldest in my arms as she spills her heartache over this thing and that thing, and imagine my own pain smearing ink on my journal pages.
I hear my son murmur into my neck, his hands wrapped tight around me, “I just want to be home with you, Mommy.” And I remember that last night I gripped my mother’s shawl in bed as grief rocked my body, and I missed her hard after all these years.
Each child holds a shard of reflective glass for me to witness myself, unfolding or growing; changing the world or changing my mind; being
all the celebrated or secret parts of me.
The women of my family tread through my mind, the ones who shaped my childhood and my consciousness, as well as the generations of females who exist only as names and stories. Did anybody tell them the truth? About the mirror? That you can’t lie in motherhood?
I can’t hide from myself in motherhood. And that has been my burden and my gift. I can’t hide from myself and that has made it possible to try loving all of myself. If I’m not going to love all of my pieces then I’m wasting this gift of being exposed, of being vulnerable.
I’m moving toward a place that isn’t about truth or lies. It's a place built on all of my experiences as a mom - all of the lessons I've learned, and all of the ways I've become more of who I am. A place I am honoured to stand on, a place I am proud to have reflected back at me.
Motherhood is a mirror. And it has shown me everything.