We rarely think of mothers and heroes of adventures in the same breath. Popular culture and myth will have you believe that having babies and raising children is a largely sedate, composed affair. A pretty montage of beaming smiles and sunshiny kids, at best. Or a somewhat mundane story arc, at worst. In reality, motherhood has everything in common with raw, adrenaline-packed adventures and epic odysseys. It may seem unlikely, but mums fit perfectly into the league of adventurers who go off on big quests into the unknown, right alongside dragon slayers, explorers, mountain climbers and ancient mariners.
Every momentous journey begins with the hero (unwittingly) setting off on an adventure that will change her forever. Yanked out of the ordinary world and thrust into the wilderness – with no helpful maps or GPS to lead the way – she learns to make her way, relying on her wits, guts and faith alone. In a very similar twist, newly minted mothers are thrown out of the cocoons of their familiar lives and selves and launched into the nebulous and boundary-less state that is mumhood. An untethered world of sleep deprivation, nursing, crying infants, diapers, worry, guilt and too much advice.
Like any glorious voyage, new motherhood throws up many delights to sample along the way: the discovery of the world through the eyes of your child, stumbling into allies, kindred spirits, new powers and skills, and the pleasures of love, laughter and play. But like any bewildering, uncertain adventure worth its salt, there are doubts to wrestle with, exhaustion to battle, identities to shed or juggle, R.E.M sleep to lose and mistakes to make.
Thankfully, unexpected treasures are usually unearthed in the nick of time, after a fair amount of hand-wringing. Just when you think you’ve hit a wall, motherhood seems to throw up hidden reserves and endless supplies of endurance, toughness, tenderness, hope and humour. Just when you think you are forever doomed to be a shell of your former self, there is that mythical pot of gold that reveals itself. In this case, it is the slow blossoming of a new self; one that cobbles together bits of the old-you with lots of the new, now-you.
All mums are different and so are their journeys. New age, old school, helicopter, tiger, eager, unconventional – motherhood in the modern world takes assorted routes. But the whole point of this grand adventure is not about performing superhero-like feats on a daily basis, being perfect or holding it all together. It’s more about marching to the drumbeat of your own instincts and showing up and being present (and enjoying yourself) – just as you are.
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