It is a rare occasion that I am alone and able to relish the delights of it. Motherhood is an odd one. It can come into your life when you are perhaps quite young; I was a pregnant 19 year old and gave birth a few weeks after my 20th birthday. Whatever age, it’s all a new experience, especially the first time, every time…
I still remember the first time I was alone after the birth of my first baby who is now 20. (It feels like I can count the times on both hands of conscious times of being alone over the last twenty years).
Lets say my baby was about 6 months old. My baby’s father took him out for a walk. It was a strange, late spring, early summer sort of afternoon when the light is voluminous and the rain may fall but doesn’t. There is a pregnancy in the air. A potential … Something.
Then, as before and since, this sudden opportunity for being alone; the fulsome, lonesome, swollen and wanting atmosphere-of the almost grey;pinkgold air and sky, reflected (or I onto it projected), a mutually swollen grief; of unspent sorrow and tears; The profound horror and joy of the immense love I had for my new small creature; grown and forth come, from my body; from my soul- leaving me alone in sad joy to breath a moment and reflect.
I think I started to paint what I could see out of the window. The light on the roofs. The full, again, swollen trees; burgeoning and flourishing with new summer hope and arrival. The grey sky and suggestion of rain. Seen through my romantically large planes of glass; a small shabby council flat somewhere in Charlton. London. I think I may have heaved sobs of heavy tears; in fear of their return; and in a sort of beautiful horror of being alone at last. Or maybe I didn’t cry. I felt the salty waters rising in my chest but they stayed there till now really.
They were back before I could essentially grieve the new birth and new death all at once occurring within me and my life; and in the magnificent newness of this baby boy.
Is this a bit what motherhood is? A sort of permanent grieving?
Over the years of impulse and living I don’t think I have properly initiated these new births and deaths of time and the changes it brings properly. And so, often at sudden moments of aloneness I find my eyes brimming with such full warm tears, and my heart almost breaking with the sorrow and joy so immense and overwhelming.
As time goes by and my children grow more independent, the sorrow is less because space starts to increase. But still, if I am unexpectedly gifted with some Time alone, I feel like a child in a sweetie shop; not knowing where or how to begin choosing what to do. If fortunate enough not to be experiencing one of the sorrow floods, then I just flounder in a panic, darting from activity to activity like a malfunctioning robot trying to remember what it is I love to do the most.
The life of a mother, or life generally, is so intense and beautiful, painful and odd; we often spend time justifying ourselves to ourselves if not even more painfully, to others; punishing ourselves; admonishing ourselves and just being so critical of ourselves. When we are suddenly alone; it’s potentially terrifying.
Having battled through motherhood/life like a defensive, fearsome, self sacrificing warrior; I would in retrospect seek and make time to be alone- to do this I think maybe requires strength and a certain obstinance (if met with any resistance or reluctance from any significant others). This just to nourish the soul and the personality.