My daughter turned 18 years old this May. It doesn’t seem like 18 years ago that I gave birth to her. It feels like eight years maybe? Or perhaps 80?! So long ago and yet so recent.
She was my first baby. And the birth, while mind-blowingly awesome, was also searingly traumatic. Trauma is an overused word I know but childbirth, by its very nature, is traumatic for the body. Twenty-four hours of labour and she was presenting with her neck which meant that, although I (eventually!) delivered naturally, I was constantly at risk of an emergency C-section. They say women do not remember the pain but I beg to differ! I recall the pain and the pushing and the sheer power it took to deliver my eight pound six ounce bundle of gorgeousness. I remember the exhaustion and the stinging and the leaking and the breastfeeding and even more exhaustion. But looking down at her adorable face as she latched onto me, with her teeny hand pummelling my breast, is a deep joy I recall as vividly as if it was last week.
Sometimes I tease my teenagers about how I used to feed them and change their nappies, a little nudging reminder that once they were tiny vulnerable people completely reliant on me. Of course they say ‘yuck, that’s gross, mum’ and make gagging sounds but I even enjoy those reactions!
Today as I write, my teenage son is physically taller than me. And my daughter is now technically an adult. And this makes me feel a little small and a tad old. I hear myself asking the question all parents ask when their eldest graduates from school: ‘Where has the time gone?’ And I find myself asking this one too: ’Was I a good mother?’. Perhaps we solo parents question ourselves even more? Perhaps it’s my personality? Too much questioning, too much soul-searching, too much pondering?
So, I look at the evidence - I have nursed, nurtured, taught, loved and guided them to this point. And that is something to be proud of. It’s hardly unique - there are mothers all over this planet. Mothering is the most natural thing in the world and yet I am proud of these two young people, of who they have become: Rounded, interesting, clever, funny, confident, talented humans.
For her school graduation, my daughter asked for a baby photo - one baby pic! Of course I had to look through at least 200 before I settled on a shortlist of ten. And I was right back there. Back in nostalgia-land and I cried over some photos as memories came flooding back. HappySad tears - because it’s always a mixture, isn’t it? The love, the loss, the hopes, the dreams. Would I do things differently? Yes, I bloomin’ well would! But, mostly, I have accepted that I was not the best mother but also not the worst.
I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have been, and hope to continue being, a good-enough mother. And that. my fellow Moodscopers, will have to do!
Happy 18th birthday, baby girl :-)
Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.