By Freya Hill
When my daughter was five days old, my mother arrived to help us. I naively had thought we wouldn’t need help in the first days home. I was wrong. I called my mother in tears the second night we were home with our daughter. On the day my mother turned up at my house, I cried on her shoulder and said “I love you so much and one day you won’t be here.” I had been a mother myself for less than a week and I could not bear the idea that one day I would be just a mother but not a daughter; that I would be the end of the chain.
The process of becoming a mother is a rebirth. You are broken, and then you rebuild yourself; like someone trying to glue a broken vase back together.
I have new cracks that are vulnerable to breaking. I am not as strong as I used to be, but also I am infinitely stronger than before.
Motherhood broke my heart open. Now I see my daughter in all children. When I hear of children suffering, I see my daughter’s face and I imagine the pain of the mother.
When my daughter was two weeks old, she and I moved into the lounge for a few days so that my husband could get enough sleep to function at work. My mother moved into the lounge with us. For several nights, I slept on the couch, my daughter slept in her little moses basket and my mother slept on the carpet near us. Two mothers, laying next to their daughter as she slept and worrying about her in the moments before rest. I had a reoccurring nightmare for those early weeks that I was accidentally smothering my daughter. I would wake with a start and so would my mother; her rest only as shallow as mine, as mine was only as shallow as my daughter’s. A mother is always half awake.