A series of letters to my younger mama self.
“Welcome to Artifact Motherhood.”
A collaboration of artists from around the world who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles in our journeys. Through our writings and photographs, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artefacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.
At the end of this article, you will find a link to another mama’s blog and her take on motherhood this month. You will be able to follow the blog loop until you get back to me.
To learn more about Artifact Motherhood, please follow this link.
Overlays of Time, in words and pictures.
” You already knew. You didn’t think it could be so quick, but it really was. You got married and there you are, in Como, during your honeymoon. You are standing in a pharmacy, explaining with your worst mix of french-italian-english that you’d like to buy a pregnancy test.
Motherhood. It’s a flippin miracle you got married, and now you are embarking on a crash course to get your brains wired about that one. You are giggling at the back of the room, trying not to look at James. You guys are watching this 80’s video at the pre-natal class. Everyone is wearing denim overalls in that video, and you blame the hormones for not being able to stop cry-laughing about it. And then it hits you. Shit, that baby is going to have to come out of you.
You love the butterfly wings fluttering inside of you but your petite body is in pain – it’s like your back and neck are about to break in thousand pieces. You don’t know it yet, but darling these are deep wounds that you will have to heal. Wounds that the physiotherapy you need for 4 months can do nothing about.
You are pacing the beach up and down with your best friend who has come all the way from the UK to Dubai to spend time with you before that child comes. All that fine dining food is not going to stay in, is it. That child is coming. And now your friend is flying back home in the morning and you are crouching in the lift moving down from the 22nd floor. It’s hospital time.
The epidural lets you sleep and a few hours later, you get woken up and it’s time to push but you don’t feel a thing. She cries, he cries, you cry. Happy tears.
He goes see her and she’s OK. She’s perfect, he says. She looks like him a lot and they already bonded. They will be friends for life, you know it, and that makes your heart so very, very full. You did good, mama. You actually completely and absolutely trust this man to be the kind of father for your child that yourself never had, and that’s an achievement in itself. You will have to learn so much from him, and that, also, is a good thing. She made you a mama for the first time, and that’s a gift you will remind yourself not to take for granted, riddled of complete guilt some dark nights. You won’t know why yet mama, but there’s deep wounds opening every tear you shed.
You are petrified of all the nutters on the Sheikh Zayed Road. Have they always driven so fast or is it just today, on your way home, with that tiny human at the back of the car? Breastfeeding is hard, the lack of sleep is hard, it’s all an overwhelming blur of joy and endless desire to sleep. That one Saturday when you and James did not shower, did not talk, did not eat, because she wouldn’t take a nap. And then you finally decided to go out the 3 of you, get some food. By the time you had locked the front door, she was fast asleep in her pram. Lesson learnt. So many more to learn, everyday, constantly. Parenting, or the art of asking 3 million questions at the second, but also the opportunity to do a little bit better everyday.
Breastfeeding is such a relief to get away from the noise. You take her in the room just to be the two of you. It puzzles you, you can’t control it. She’s yours and this moment is yours alone. You go back to France for a holiday, and it’s such hard work to be “back”. Why does it feel so uncomfortable, why do you feel so out of place? what is this unease ? It’s not until much later my dear that you understand that this noise is another deep wound. You won’t be able to breathe at times, you will hear yourself scream and you won’t know why. Right now, you just want to go home, you are suffocated, without any words to say. Yet.
Being part-time is a blessing, you love both worlds. The 4 days you spend with this beautiful daughter of yours, and the 3 that you don’t. You know she’s safe and fine without you. You are amazed at everything she does, every smile she makes, every look of surprise, every new noise, every new learning curve. You don’t know what this pain is inside, but it feels like it’s been erased. So, moving on. You are wrong, it is not erased, but right then, there’s only love and joy for this beautiful, beautiful family you make.
I know you enjoyed learning being the mum of one young child, your first one. You loved it so much and you did a good job. Not just for all the food and purees you cooked from scratch and filled to the brim your freezer, but also for the patience, the sleepless nights, the pure love and joy you were learning to feel. The amazement at each little thing she’d do. You did good. Not just for giving the calpol and the teething powder, not just for knowing exactly when to put her to bed, but also for the swimming times with her, learning to gently put her under water for half a second, the nights out you got with your girl friends, for the great job you did at work, for the times you were with her and for the times you were not. You did good, not just for the playdates and the not crying too much when you first left her at nursery but also for the date nights with James or the ones on your own so he could have some fun with his mates too.
It doesn’t feel like that some times, that you did a good job. But you did. And you still are mama, you still are.
To be continued…
Thank you for reading until the end chapter 1. Please follow on to read the story of Celeste Pavlik, the next artist in our blog circle, and continue through all the artists until you get back to me!
Share this story
Wow, this is simply beautiful. I can also tell this is a story you’ve had inside you for some time – I cannot wait to read more. These double exposures are also just gorgeous.
This is absolutely awe-inspiring, your words and your art. I admire your honesty, and can relate to bits and pieces you have written. I cannot wait to read chapter two. Beautiful, Caro.
Wow Caro! I am speechless with your words and you art. I can tell this story has been brewing inside you for a while, and I am so glad you are letting it out through this project – you have left me wanting to hear more! You can feel there is a point of tension in your double exposures that hasn’t quite been resolved…. just amazing <3
What a powerful way to write. And these double exposures are insanely beautiful!