I didn’t leave the apartment for almost eight weeks, aside from my daily trip to the mailbox. I knew no one else with a baby. No one in the area with kids, really. So I stayed home, went through the motions and tried to process my not ideal birth experience.
I finally decided that hiding away in the apartment would not help me make new friends. I needed to create a new routine for this new version of me. I gathered up everything one could possibly need for a five-minute walk around the block (in other words, everything in the nursery) and set off.
As we were crossing the street to head home, I started to worry.
What if that car ran right through the red light? What would I do? If I gave the stroller a quick, hard shove would it make it across? Would the person turning right see it? Would the stroller hit the curb and tip over?
The pedestrian-friendly street I had traversed thousands of times before had suddenly become a death trap. I crossed as quickly as I could to the safety of home.
In this and so many other ways, motherhood broke me.
It took all the pieces that were me and shattered them, leaving me a confused stranger in my own skin. I was unprepared for the breaking and for how dark it would get as that little child cried and cried while nothing I could do would make it stop.
Motherhood is sticky. It doesn’t take without giving something back. Just when I was about to absolutely lose it and thought I couldn’t go another day being so broken, it started to put me back together.
Motherhood builds you up with little hands clutching you like a life depends on it (because it does). It builds you up with a toddler wiping those tears and saying “mommy okay?” With a spouse understanding that sometimes the most romantic gesture in the world is to say, “Honey go take a shower, I got this,” as he wrangles all the kids to bed. It builds you with the understanding that, even if your mind has dark and shadowy places, you are still there, deep inside and while you may feel broken, you are not beyond repair.
Motherhood broke me into a million pieces, and put me back together a new and different person. It showed me that sometimes the hands of God are short, chubby, soft and barely fit around your neck. I learned that those hands that could barely grasp an object could hold me up and put me back together, one messy broken piece at a time.