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.