I fell pregnant with first child when I was 20. I had only just begun living a life of my own choices when the dynamic of living them with somebody else in mind became my reality.
I didn’t know then what motherhood would mean exactly but I knew it would mean a lot. That it would require a lot of me.
I was terrified and I really wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to do my daughter justice. I wanted to be so much for her.
So I made myself a promise; I could give myself completely to my daughter for 5 years and then she would begin school and I could re-find space for me.
Five years was all it really was and then I could share responsibility with school. I could do that.
It was perhaps a noble promise, born out of the best intentions. A commitment to throw myself fully into her orbit; of breastfeeding and nappies and children’s songs and endlessly pushing a swing and of carrying more than my own weight most of the time. I was ready to focus completely on her needs and ask my own to wait until we began the next chapter.
The first thing that happened was I realised, I actually wanted to be with my daughter. It wasn’t just for her but for me too. This idea of delaying my life would only prevent me from enjoying it.
This, this was my life, our life. And a far greater one than I had previously experienced or could ever imagine.
The second thing that happened is she grew. And though I then came to have another baby. That baby grew too.
And I realised it was never really within my ability to control how much I was needed.
Space found me. And it is bittersweet.
The way a child needs you isn’t exactly different as they move through from baby to toddler to young child to older child and I can assume then to a teen; you’re meeting needs, you’re supporting the emotion of existence, you’re spending your time together. But it’s not exactly the same; needs change.
And though I still lay down each night as my children find rest. And I stroke their hair and backs and we talk and laugh. It isn’t the same as continually breastfeeding that tiny newborn in my arms, of being so crucial in sustaining their being. They’re filling my cup just as much as I hope I am theirs. It has become more and more mutual.
And then there are the growing moments each day when they’re in their own spaces or each others or the ones they’ve built together. And I’m not really so much a part of that anymore.
And I think. And I blog. And I exercise. And I scroll around the internet. And I binge watch shows. And I do those things for me that once seemed so important before I met my children.
School was a false promise, a narrative I’d built off of the conditioning it gave me. They sold me the idea that I couldn’t parent alone, I needed school as much as my children did.
And they cut in right when that which felt so constant is easing, protecting their own lie.
Because in a way it would have in fact kept me arbitrarily tethered, just not to my children (though they blur that distinction so expertly). It would have been school demanding so much of me. More than it could ever deserve.
And it would have had me believe parenthood was responsible. That this was unavoidable.
I didn’t need to share my children with school, I really didn’t want to. I wanted to share the world with them.