Having a baby and becoming a mother can be a very lonely journey. Writing that sounds equally obvious and totally impossible, as, from the moment you conceive, you never know ‘alone’ again. It’s fair to say that little Miss Maddie is my little shadow, and one that I wouldn’t change for the world.
Although people tell you how tiring being a mother is, I’m not sure that anything can you prepare you for the whirlwind that it truly is. A wonderful, beautiful and superbly challenging whirlwind. I guess I ‘expected’ the tiredness; and that my life would change. But I think I thought that once the initial shock of becoming a mother had worn off, that I’d slowly find my way back to the me that I was pre-baby. That I’d slowly slot Maddie into the pre-existing elements and relationships in my life. And that was perhaps the greatest shock and gift of it all. Because I’ve now realised that pre-baby me isn’t me, anymore. Of course, the person I now am bears similarities to the pre-baby Caitie but she isn’t the same person, at all.
I’ve been on what can only be described as a transformative journey. No, no, stop gagging, I’m not about to talk to you about the frequencies that I’m vibrating at, and the hot yoga retreat that I’ve just been on, I simply mean that I am in the process of transforming.
And, this week, it occurred to me that times of transformation are more often than not lonely. I suppose that this is in part because during these times we need to spin cocoons that shroud us in the privacy and solitude that we need to prepare for big changes, but it is also sometimes because suddenly the people and places that we used to be comfortable in and around, aren’t the same anymore. The people that we expected to always be there for us – to love the many versions of us, and to embrace our changes, are often not the ones that end up holding us when our pieces come crumbling away.
And that’s a sad realisation. Isn’t it? And honestly not one that I expected when I began my journey into motherhood.
Becoming a mother, to me, has been the single greatest and most terrifying journey that I have ever been on. And, in my short-ish (shut up, Paul – he keeps telling me I’m on the wrong side of 25…) life, I’ve been on some journeys. I’ve struggled with mental health, recovered, struggled again, struggled with my physical health (chronic, in progress but getting stronger every day…) I’ve studied, I’ve worked, started my own business… I’ve made friends, I’ve lost friends. I’ve been bullied. I say this not to list achievements or to gain sympathy but, because, to me, I feel like I’ve transformed a few times, already.
And, as I have emerged each time, it feels like instead of finding my friends around me, I have found myself with fewer and fewer people around me. No, I’m not getting out my small violin, I promise. Because the truth of it is, that the people I find around me now are not necessarily the people that I expected them to be. But they are, wholeheartedly, people that I would do anything for. They are the people who don’t pretend to understand my journey, but join me on it anyway. They are the people that accept and dare I say, appreciate, my odd eccentricities and inability to sit in silence. They are the people that know that when I don’t text, somethings up. And sometimes I’ll want to talk about it, and other times I won’t. And sometimes, I’ll write a blog post about it, and they’ll send a simple heart or ‘thinking of you’, without asking for anything else in return.
For the people that stand by you in your darkest hours, and the ones who understand when you have nothing to give them – nothing at all; the ones who understand when you are in a period of transformation and vow to stand beside you until you emerge from your cocoon, those people become tiny pieces of your soul. And the ones no longer waiting for you as you emerge, they are integral parts of your journey. Pit stops on the road trip of your life. They are the ones that get smaller in your rear-view mirror.
And, that’s okay.
It’s not easy, friends, but it’s okay.
It’s okay that some things don’t last forever. It’s okay that you will continue transforming, and that some of those transformations will be exceptionally painful. It’s okay that you’re a mess and not sure of which way is up. It’s okay. It’s okay to not have the foggiest what you’re doing when it comes to motherhood and most other things, too, because, I’ll let you in on a secret – no one has a bloody clue.
So, queen of tangents that I am, now find myself here. At a place where I feel lonely as I have shed some layers and some friendships that I thought I would always have. I’m not entirely sure who this new ‘me’ is, and I don’t think I’ve fully emerged from my cocoon yet. But, I am here, nonetheless. I am a different but more uniquely ‘me’ version of myself than I have ever been, and, I’m so very grateful to the people who are standing beside me, embracing that transformation. For all that I am now, and all I am still to be. And, I am intensely grateful for my little shadows (not forgetting Soda, of course!) They are exhausting. Bone-achingly tiring. Hilarious. Tear-inducing. Frustrating. And, sometimes they cover me in poo (not Soda, thankfully. But Maddie has yet to learn that sh*tting down someone’s front is frowned upon…) It’s hard to stay angry at her when she has a look of utter pride at her achievements, though.
So friends, I encourage you to embrace whatever transformation that you are undergoing right now. Be it one you expected, or one you didn’t see coming at all, it is a part of your journey and something that you will one day be very proud of. Whether that’s because it made you who you became, or simply because you survived it. And hold those people waiting for you on the other side closely. Remind them just how important they are to you. And, if you can, wait for them on the other side of their transformations, too. And where those paths don’t align, know that it’s okay to let go, too.
‘It hurt because it mattered’ – John Green
A huge thank you to our wonderful friend Carrie for capturing these beautiful images. We will cherish them forever.
With all of our love, always, friends,
Caitie, Soda, and, Little Maddie xxx