Motherhood And Stories

Write what you need to write, not what you think you ought to write, or what people tell you you should write. – A #writetip on Twitter

Motherhood. I was a mother long before I had my child. I am slowly realising this, as the mothering of this Little Person is so different from the mothering of the children that have gone before. It’s why I felt like such a damn failure for so long.

The children that went before – the ones in the afterschool centre, and then when I was a nanny and a mother’s help – were, for the most part, typically developing. They loved my mischievous streak. They always wanted to hear me tell me just one more story. So of course, when Little Person came along, I knew what I was about. I knew how it was going to be. I knew all the joys, and laughter and memories that were coming my way.

Only, they didn’t.

I have fantastic memories with Little Person, walking along the road kicking up the leaves, listening to her squeal with delight on the swing, her face the first time she tasted strawberries. But there are memories I thought I would have that I simply don’t. Making up stories for her at bedtime, telling her about my life growing up, dressing up and having picnics outside. Maybe we will do these things someday, but I have to own the realistic possibility that maybe we won’t. And somehow, I have to be okay with that.

Because comparison is a curse. Especially when I’m comparing myself with a myth. Blaming myself for something that I have no control over. Well, it was either that or blame the Little Person, and we all know it’s not her fault. I was so busy pretending that she could be a typically developing child, if only I did the right things, worked hard enough, explained well enough, jumped high enough, rewarded often enough and played the right music at exactly the right moment, I nearly broke us both.

Little Person has my mischievous streak. She is my one more story. She has my stubborn streak, which means she will never ever give up. And as I have learned that it is not my job to get her to fit into the box enough to get through school and life, but to live a life not defined by her degree of box-fittiness, I have realised that if I stayed the mother I was before, I would not be the mother she needs me to be.

Little Person and me, we don’t have stories. We have dances.

Motherhood. It’s an art. It s a dance. Sometimes the music changes. Sometimes the rhythm of a life built so close to your heart takes your breath away. It’s practice, every day. You can read all the books, listen to all the professionals, pass all the tests and have all the experience in the world, but really, we are all still novices, learning how to be the mother our children need us to be. Not the mother they think we ought to be, not the mother other people say we should be.

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