The Church Tower
What one does not expect upon entering motherhood is that infancy and babydom is a lot like a prison where you are enslaved by this tiny creature that you have magically produced. This may sound harsh, but the first days and months of motherhood felt, for me, like this tragic loss of all that I had known including not only my mobility, but also who I was. I thought I would never be the same person and, thanks to my postpartum, I thought I would never be able to enjoy life or even go outdoors again.
From inside my house I would stare across the street to the sentinel of the church tower remembering, and viscerally longing, for that time when it didn't seem so far away - so inapproachable. All of a sudden, across the street was a distance that I could not bridge as fear kept me inside, locked uncomfortably away from anyone I might encounter which would then force me to pretend to be having the time of my life with my new baby. When you have to force joy as a new mother, you feel desperately alone, scared, and tragically inept. You feel like nothing will ever be the same, not even the silent call of the church tower.
For the majority of four months I was off with my daughter after her birth, I had to be accompanied every day by someone else - usually my partner or my mother. Both of these people went to great lengths and much inconvenience (I can only imagine now) trying to accommodate my need to never be left alone. I was far too scared and the pain and fear I was experiencing was immobilizing, physically paralyzing at times.
I can no longer feel even the traces of fear I used to feel when I would even think about those first few months - mostly because I have put a lot of hard work and concerted action into getting better. Now, when I look at the tower, it represents how far I've come, and not what I've lost, but what I've gained. My Noodle loves the birds that perch on its edges and every time we come home or leave the house, she calls to the birds, looks for them, and tweets along to their songs.
Sometimes it's still hard to see the forest for the trees, and this post isn't about how all is well that ends well. The church tower represents both a longing for freedom and its qualified realization. As mothers we live in a variety of cages, the worst of which is fear. Fear strangles who we are and what we can be because it narrows our vision and action. The church tower is then a representation of hope that carries us through. The hope that we can act in the world in ways that don't subordinate us to motherhood as servitude and sacrifice, but rather motherhood as change, growth, transformation, and not the redemption of what we once were, but the birth of something new.