Both children sleeping, to both of you I am ‘mama’.
Judah has an understanding of what that means, he knows that I grew him, he tells me it’s a hard job to look after him and Autumn-Violet all the time. He says he is too clever for me. To him I am almost laughable, a joke, errand woman, silly mummy… and he holds his face up and shuts his eyes for a kiss of blessing.
Autumn-Violet, it’s more base and instinctual, what is mama? She is a clean nappy, an animated face, pretending to chew on her fingers, the soft breast to nuzzle against at night.
I wandered blindly into pregnancy with Judah, my strongest memories of that time the way he would do a double kick and punch and leave me breathless. I would grind the coffee at 7am, trying not to puke at the smell of the pastries, and he would kick and squirm as I woke him up. I remember before even conceiving him, lying in my bed and imagining him, creating him in my head before I did with my body. His birth expanded my mind and opened up a whole world of possibility. I see myself, newly-wed, hopelessly optimistic… lavishing my love on this tiny baby who quickly grew round and jolly, just from my milk, my happy boy. It was a simple time. Cleaning my little two-bed flat on Elm Street while he slept in the sling, going for coffee and playdates, walks on the beach and to castles with his brothers. Long naps in the afternoon as he swapped breasts over and over again and we dozed in perfect harmony.
His will was strong – maybe I loved him too much, poured all my unwanted love into him, was thrilled by him, his assertiveness and courage making my heart swell. He was never put down as a baby. Then, complex words spilling from his toddler mouth as he directed us all and watched us scurry around to meet his demands. Slamming the door in my face as he goes off on his adventures. He has always seemed larger than life to me. He is my boomerang, always returning home.
Sometimes I think he had the best of me, the sweetest, the most soft. Fresh, unfiltered love, with barely any of the trauma that was to befall us before he was two. I see us laughing together, mama and baby, growing up together. Raw and boundless.
Autumn-Violet, you are a catalyst. To say I cherished my pregnancy does not even cover how I felt about you. How to explain the joy of your movements even while my body stiffened with adrenalin and my body nearly wore itself out? You were the one who made me feel beautiful.
How do you see me? Here I feel some guilt. You used to kick in protest in the womb when I would set boundaries for Judah and he would wail. I often joked maybe you did not want to come out at all based on what you had heard from me so far. I worried that I had damaged you somehow with my sickness, stress and grief. You were bundled up in the sling at a week old and dragged on school runs, to the park, to soft play, your feeding and changing always on the go, never slow, never a bonding time. Then when rest finally came Judah would wake you up and smother you with love.
You are the light. You knit our world together. How we adore you.
To you, maybe mama is the one with the strong voice and the set jaw. The warrior who in the midst of chaos still gets arrested by your amazing smile. You are happy, uncomplicated, you like your space. You make things easier, taking everything in with your wide, gazing eyes. You’re strapped in, swept along, on a mission again, with the woman steering this unsteady course for our family.
Have you missed out? My love for you is more doing than feeling, the depths I have gone, the things I have done...
I have moved mountains for you.
You missed out on the sweetness but you came along just in time for the strength.