Seasonal shifts in motherhood.
The seasons of motherhood are always changing aren’t they? It can feel like some seasons are never ending, and then suddenly they are over and never will be again. Some we struggle to let go of, like breast feeding and some, like nappies, we release gladly. Either way, we mother on because we are still needed and there is always much to be done.
There are so many physical acts in motherhood that weave through our days like habits, like rituals, that I feel we should recognize their passing. When we give away our baby sleep suits, and think of the hundreds of times we have fastened poppers around tiny wriggling legs. The everyday acts. The zipping up coats, the wiping of noses, the refilling of spilled cups. The repetition of these practices train us, humble us, refine us, stretch our hearts and prepare us for the harder mothering ahead.
Pushing a pram has always been a daily physical act for me. I am fortunate enough to live in a community where everything is local and within walking distance, so I walk everywhere, everyday, through the streets of Belfast with a stroller at the end of my arms. For 10 years of motherhood, pushing a buggy has been a constant in my daily rhythms, until now. My littlest still gets in sometimes, particularly in the mornings when we are in a rush, but more and more he is wanting to walk or scoot and the pram ends up being piled high with school bags and musical instruments.
And so, I prepare to say farewell to this season of the stroller. Farewell to the blankets round cold legs, the rain covers, the supplies of rice cakes and raisins.
I have been discussing this with my three kiddies on the walks home from school, as they slowly realise with concern that this will mean having to carry all their own bags every day. Last week, my oldest said, ‘Mummy, I don’t think we have any photos of you pushing the pram, we should take one!’ And so she did. Right there in the middle of our ordinary everyday walk home from school, she in her ten year old wisdom, took this photo, in order to remember.
There are many mundane parts of motherhood that are not recorded, not deemed worthy of a photo. I do not have any photos of me changing a nappy or making sandwiches with a baby on my hip, or scooping lego up of the floor, but they were all daily rituals in one season or another. I think that it what I love about Instagram. That people photograph the little things, relishing the beauty in the ordinary.
I am reluctant to post a photo of myself, and I will most likely delete it later, but for now, it is here, to acknowledge the passing of this season. A season that has brought me joy and tears. A season that has broken me with tantrums and worries and lack of sleep and put me back together by receiving grace and hugs and by dancing in the kitchen. A season that has knocked my sideways and turned everything upside down. A season that has weathered me and softened me. A season that has changed me and strengthened me and formed me into the mother I am today.
These transitions can be hard to make and often go unnoticed because life is just so busy and the sorrow of it is left hanging heavily within us somewhere. And yet we mother on.
There will always be seasons of motherhood for us to let go of and new seasons to navigate, but whilst we may no longer be feeding them with a spoon on our knee, we will always be nourishing them with our words and encouragement and love. We may no longer be pushing them down the road in a pram, but we will always be there to offer them guidance and direction as they forge their own paths. We may no longer be strapping them into a buggy, but they will be forever strapped to our hearts.
May we acknowledge the passing of these seasons with gratitude, forming habits of being thankful, shifting the heaviness into joy in the remembering.
May we cherish the present season, notice the little things and really see the everyday magic of it all.
May we step fearlessly into the next season with our eyes and arms and hearts wide open.
May we mother on.