Friday, 22 July 2011
The old lady smiled at John and then asked me the question that I've been asked countless times over the past fifteen months:
"How are you enjoying being a mother then?"
It's a question that's a favourite amongst casual acquaintances and rarely-seen relatives and it's one that I still haven't got the faintest idea how to answer.
Because how could I answer it honestly?
How could I explain the pleasure and pain that this journey through motherhood has brought?
How could I tell them of the fears that are always chasing the joys or the smiles that always follow the tears?
How could I sum up the exhaustion, the elation, the loneliness and the love that I feel on a daily basis and how could I put into words the awesome responsibility of parenting that turns me cold with fear when I stop and consider it too deeply?
How could I begin to explain the mind-numbing tedium of time spent with a baby or the unbearable frustration that can come from trying to tame a toddler, and how could I begin to expound on the patience and endurance and contentment that I have learned as a result of doing both these things?
How could I describe the pure joy that's borne on my baby's beautiful smiles and the peace and purpose that he's brought to my life, and how could I explain that there are moments when I've sat and cried on the kitchen floor because the helplessness that I've felt?
And how could I tell of the contentment that I've found in the everyday moments of life along with the accompanying panic that these moments are slipping through my fingers even whilst we're living them?
"I'm loving it" I said to the smiling, well-meaning old lady, just at I've said to everybody else that's ever asked.
Because it was the answer she was expecting to hear, it was at least partly the truth, and if she's a mother herself then she'll already know all the rest.