As I was swaying my son to sleep before attempting to put him down in his crib, a second time. I caught the outline of my shadow on the wall behind the crib. No face, no features, just the outline of him and me swaying as I sang “Hush Little Baby”.
It made me wonder how many thousands of women were doing the same thing in that moment. Rocking their babies to sleep, shushing and singing. Knowing they will be doing this again in an hour or two. Maybe they are sitting on the floor reading bedtime stories as their toddlers drift off. Any momma could be transposed onto my shadow. Young, old, new, seasoned, hopeful or discouraged.
How many other moms were staring at their shadow and feeling like, in this chapter, that’s all that is left of them? Feeling like their days are such a blur of survival that you have slowly faded into a shadow of your former self? That you’ve just morphed into a dark black, blur of a person, scrambling to run from one thing to the next.
Somewhere hiding in that shadow is the woman you used to be. Maybe you practiced yoga daily and challenged your body with new poses. Maybe you ran or did cross fit. As you stumble through your day as a mom, the shadow has slowly taken you over as you relearn to do all daily tasks one handed, while cradling a child in the other.
Somewhere in that shadow is the woman who used to dive deep into mystery novels and fiction literature, listen to music while casually going about their day. The shadow now has Pout, Pout Fish and Bad Kitty memorized with children’s songs playing on a loop in her head all day.
Somewhere in that shadow is the woman who used to make and check off all her to do list items. Now, the shadow and fog looming over your brain causes you to forget why you walked into a room, while the list of tasks that needs done is constantly scrolling through her mind. Three more tasks added for every one checked off.
Somewhere in that shadow is a woman who used to fit in one or two baths a week in addition to showering as desired. Now, you are lucky to find time more than twice a week to hurry through a shower before the baby wakes or your toddler screams for your help.
On those rare glimpses where you reappear out of your shadow and look in the mirror, you may notice more life on your face. Fine lines from laughter and tears etching their way around your mouth and between your eyes. When you pass by that mirror and glance a peak at that shadow woman, you can’t help but notice things that used to be firm are now soft and sagging a bit (or a lot).
Some days it may be hard to see anything other than our shadows. Rest in knowing, our children see our true colors. The women we have been blessed to become. They see the mom whose face explodes with color when they plant a sloppy kiss on her cheeks or pluck dandelions from the lawn for her. Our children see our brightness shining through our eyes when our bodies feel dull and dark.
Sometimes I feel this pull of wishing these young baby and toddler years away so I can just get back to feeling like myself. Then I look through pictures and videos and I just know in my soul these are the best years of our life. Innocence, wonder and enchantment shines through the faces of both my children. Their brightness cuts streams of light through my dark shadows.
Soon enough they will turn into moody preteens and busy teenagers. Then they will be gone onto their own adventures. It’s then I will sit back and give anything to feel the weight of a baby sleeping on my chest. Their soft breath on my neck. The prayer I say for you and me is that we recognize and savor this chapter, because it will be gone so fast. That we recognize our moments of weakness as just that. A moment in time. A moment that will pass.
We no longer have a village to help us raise children and I think it’s pertinent to share and connect where we can. To support each other and share our feelings in an unrestricted manner. Gone are the days of trying to present a perfectly filtered and flawless life. I want real and raw. I want you to share your highest highs and lowest lows with me. So I can cheer you on or be the shoulder you need to cry on. This is hard momma. Wonderfully and beautifully hard.