Looking Forward, Looking Back

This spring weather has been unpredictable. Unseasonably warm sunshine bleeds into dark curling storm clouds, threatening tornados. Some evenings I walk outside and breathe in the smell of the wet earth, growing again after the floods. Then, I take the children for walks during the day and we save half-dried worms off the warming concrete sidewalks. I’m not sure why, but I could never leave them there to wither.

Summer is coming faster than the winds can change. I’ll be 31 in June. When 30 came, my mother and I were thrust into old tensions and opening painful wounds; I asked her for a party for years, but it was taken at the last minute. It hurt more than I was willing to admit. Just a party. But I never ask for anything.

When 30 came, I gave birth unassisted to my fourth daughter. I let myself yell, and I didn’t feel ashamed of the blood or the water or noises I made. Sensuality flowed from me to my husband, as I leaned into his body each time a surge consumed me and brought my baby lower. I reached my hand down and felt her emerging, thankful to be strong and free.

Later that night, my older children gathered and met their newest sibling. I’ve never been more grateful than when I looked at each one of their faces. A gift.

I took my newborn baby to my aunt’s funeral before she was even a week old. I cried for death and cradled new life close to my breast. I gave my new daughter two middle names, to honor the old that passed away.

Anxiety and depression pursued me like haunted winds. Clouds settled over me, restless. I knew I loved this tiny baby, but my heart was someplace grieving. I took her into a warm bath with me. She relaxed so completely, like she was home. We rested together in the waters and came out new, a baptism. Birth again together. I felt my heart open and I knew we would be alright.

When 30 came I stopped saying “yes” when I really meant “don’t”. Healing from the deepest hurts requires feeling the pain and honoring it. Not masking it. Not smiling when you’re being crushed inside. Never again pretending to be present when your mind has fled your body like a bird from a cage. It means hearing my body, listening to my needs, retracing boundaries around myself like a loving embrace.

One day I’ll shed this pain and relearn this body. I won’t share it with ghosts who stalk me and steal my joy away. I’ll be free to make love to my husband without their stares burning holes inside of me. I believe it. Fully.

For now, I embody motherhood and accept the mantle of housewife like a cherished garland gracing my neck. I revel in the beauty of raising children and creating peace at home. I reject the notion that I must do more than be here, every moment, standing proudly at the center of my home.

Summer is coming faster than the days can fade into nights. I’ll enter 31 stronger, wiser, and ready for the true work of healing. I will enter it more woman than girl-who-is-growing-into-woman. I will ride the unpredictable seas of motherhood and recovery on the solid rock of faith and love.

I’m ready for the sunshine.

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