That prams and art are not mutually exclusive.

Out of the woods

Mr Karen was working for a few hours last Saturday morning, so I took the three boys for a walk in our local nature reserve. True to Saturday morning style, they were over-tired and full of beans (I know, that just doesn’t add up for me either) so some fresh air was sure to work their sillies out.

Boy 1 led the way through the avenue of tea-tree and paperbark. Boy 2 was right behind him, while Boy 3 trundled along in the pram, his chubby hands reaching as the air slipped through his fingers. We strolled along the boardwalk, listening for birds and frogs and tigers (?!). We stopped to read the parks signs about paperbarks and possums, swamp rats and eels. It was a warm sunny morning, and the air was filled with the smell of brine, a smell distinct to this area where our local creek runs into the sandy mouth of Port Phillip Bay.

It was a landmark occasion for us, the first proper walk where I only had one boy in the pram. In a week where we’ve had a school information night and an acceptance letter for 3 year old kinder, that brine air seemed curl around me and whisper, “This is it, you’re nearly out of the woods.”

It’s been a really hard year. I don’t want to go into the whys or hows of why it’s been hard – that’s not the point. I don’t agree with the GP who said – in discussing my contraceptive needs, with regard to the age of my kids – “This is the worst time in your life”. This is not the worst – surely terminal illness would be worse – but it is certainly challenging.

The point I’m getting to is that it didn’t occur to me how hard life had been until suddenly it felt easier: there was finally less tug on the string.

I’ve really struggled this year to come to grips with motherhood, and what it means for me, but I’m beginning to feel more at ease with my load in life. It can only get easier from here. Or, if life does get harder, I know that we can push through because that’s what we’ve done this year. We’re a team, and finally the boys are reaching stages where they acknowledge and appreciate their independence from me, their primary care giver.

Motherhood is really not about the shoes, or the Five-Year Plan. Life is different to what it was before children, and it will never be the same. A part of me now walks aside me, in my three sons, and it’s a part that will never be tucked back inside again.  The more I walk with them alongside me, the better I understand what it is I’ve been called here to do.

16 Responses to “Out of the woods”

  1. Karina

    Oh Karen I get this. I’ve been meaning to comment on your other posts bbut have been drowning in to dos and recently swathed through my email with the delete key to try and relieve some pressure. Hard yards, just bloody hard yards. But I’m thrilled to hear it’s feeling easier. I’m still reeling at my own stupidity in applying for and getting a part time job. My breast bone feels like it’s cracking from the weight of it all. Fingers crossed for your course x

  2. marion

    Motherhood is hard, really hard. It takes so much from us and there are days when we don’t get much back except a pile of dirty clothes. And then, thankfully, there the days of discovery, days when our kids master something they never have before. And we stop and marvel at what an absolute miracle it is that we get to be witness to the growth of these kids. A miracle.

    You’re doing great.

  3. Sarah

    Beautiful Karen…I often have people telling me ‘oh that must be so…um..complicated’ when I rattle off the age of my kids/stepkids…having my youngest turn one I get the chance to breath out a little more these days, to sit and watch rather than ‘do’ all the time. The hard days still come but the balance is getting a little easier to manage x

  4. Tenille @ My Family Table

    Beautiful post Karen. There’s something magical about this time of year, the days getting longer and a little bit warmer. The growth and regeneration. The sunlight has been helping me find myself again too. It feels good.

  5. yellow

    Yep, we are blessed to have these complicated little people, made up of little complicated parts of us grow into this big complicated world.

    There is nothing simple but boy are we lucky!

  6. tinsenpup

    I think I only really began to appreciate how difficult things were when my eldest was a baby eight years later when I had my second and things were a little closer to how they should have been the first time. Still, I think that means I had a strong sense of positivity carrying me through when I most needed it.

  7. Ink Paper Pen

    I loved reading this. My youngest is coming up for 2 and I have had conflicting feelings about it. A little part of me feels a change coming, a new stage for us all. But then, there is a part of me thinking hmmmmm, maybe it’s time for another one?? Motherhood has changed me for the better, even though it has also introduced me to some dark times. It’s tough, it’s wonderful, it makes you a better person and it highlights your faults. I can’t express it as well as you just did but I get what you mean and I couldn’t agree more

  8. Lucy Mulvany

    You are so much mor articulate than I on expressing this.

    Well done on getting through this past year. It does get easier and because you’ll recall how tricky it has been, each new and easier stage will make you so so proud, of them, and of yourself too.


  9. Anne @ Domesblissity

    Hi Karen. I had this very epiphany last Friday. (Must be something about Fridays, huh? LOL) I was trying to proof read a job application for my husband and the job ad closed last Friday. My 4 yo son was bugging me to no end. Ding! (as he says, pointing his finger in the air when he has an idea) The weather was glorious, I threw a towel in the bag, headed to the beach (must be something about the sea air) and had fish and chips and he played in the water park. He was squealing with delight. I just sat and watched him with amazement and realised how he gets such a thrill out of the most simple things, like we did when we watched him as a baby. All his ‘firsts’ brought us such joy but it should still be the same. They’ve grown so much and still find joy and amazement in the most simple of things and at their age now, they are able to talk to you about it and force you to look past the computer screen and into the real world.


  10. Green Mama

    One of my aunts says of the motherhood journey: ‘little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems’- still it must be nice to walk along that boardwalk only shlepping one little body in the stroller and not two. Also congrats on the kinder place- who did you have to sleep with to get it? 😉

  11. Francesca

    I must agree, that this year, the first year of our third son, has been the most challenging. I anticipated this and had to remind myself of that along the way. And now, as I watch my youngest toddle on his shaky, chubby little legs for the first time, I realise that I am also grieving an ending. There will not be another ‘first year’. But, there will be many more beginnings and endings and I am learning to embrace them all. No, I don’t think they’ll be as hard as this last year but they will challenge me and cause me to learn that really, all of this, is so damn fleeting, I only hope that these images, all of them, the good and the ugly, wash over me in my last moments. This is it, right? Just. This.

  12. Maxabella

    How well I know that feeling… that stepping back one day and realising that you’ve been in a battle and you didn’t even realise it at the time. x

  13. C.B. Wentworth

    Being a mother is the hardest job out there and I have so much respect and admiration for those who embark on that journey. The whole prospect is a challenge, but as my mother taught me it’s a labor of love. As long as you have the love, everything else falls into place. 🙂

  14. jennifersmart

    I’ve been through it all with my older daughters who are now 24 & 22. My view is that periods of mothering are difficult, but you’re about to enter ‘the golden age’ when they are not completely dependent on you and they are not yet teenagers. The demands on you change and become increasingly less physically demanding & more emotionally demanding, But eventually the will be off in the world doing their own thing & you’ll be wondering how it happened so quickly.


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