We were in the kitchen, and my shirt hung open as I attempted to tidy up the mess that seemed to multiply whenever we turned our backs. Since W had been born, I’d taken to only wearing flannel shirts. It seemed W was always feeding or my breasts needed constant attending because they were leaking or swollen or chapped. A flannel shirt, usually left open, gave me the easiest access and most comfort. If our neighbors looked in to our kitchen through the garden sliding door, I’m sure they could see more of me than they’d want.
We were only two weeks in to this new gig as parents. After our first night, which honestly had been a disaster and one of the lowest moments of our marriage, we’d been doing okay. By okay, I mean keeping our panic under control, even when W vomited blood, or managing to get enough sleep by doing absolutely nothing besides the necessary: feeding and changing W. By okay, I mean we were communicating about how we were each feeling about these changes to our life and acting as a team. Our son seemed happy, and we were high on spending time with him, even if all he really did was sleep, poo, and cry.
As I picked up our dishes to take to the sink, my husband looked up from holding W. “I feel like I’ve been watching you become a mum these past weeks,” he said.
I smiled to myself. I couldn’t even name the specific things that had led to the change myself, but something had shifted. It felt good to have someone else see it. It felt even better to have my new role recognized.
I’m still working out what it means to be a mother. It means sacrificing some of my own time for his better interest. It means learning as much as I can about child development to be his emotional and formative support. It means cultivating my own creativity to be able to share it with him. It’s not a stagnant role but rather one that will stretch and grow, a role that will test my patience while at the same time give me endless reward. It will be one that is defined as much by who this little person grows into as by who my husband and I become as a couple. It fits each woman differently. For now, I’m content knowing that, even though I can’t pin-point exactly what it is, I am one. I’ll work out further details as I go.