It takes a village
I have always wanted to be a Mama. I have always wanted to fuss over a baby, to tie up a daughter’s hair for ballet, to sit on the soccer field at the crack of dawn with a cup of coffee and watch a son score his first goal. I have always known this. I have also always been a planner, an organiser. I love every tiny detail it takes to make the perfect themed party, a dinner for friends or holiday adventures. I have always liked to know what I am doing the following weekend, where I will be and who I will be with. So it follows that my plan of being a Mama one day looked slightly different in my mind. I thought I would be older, more settled, more accomplished. I thought it would be planned.
And then it wasn’t.
Over time I have come to believe that whether it is planned or not, whether you embrace it or not, whether you just wing it or read every baby book ever published and become a Google pro, nothing can prepare you for it. Nothing can prepare you for that first night, when you are alone in a hospital bed, tired and exhausted from having a baby, when they bring her to you at 2am, and leave her with you. This tiny, helpless creature, so vulnerable and innocent and dependant. And you, her Mama, so scared and unsure and suddenly aware of the immensely daunting task that lies before you. The task of raising her. Nothing prepares you for the inadequacy you will feel when that moment hits you. When you realise that you are a Mama, to a girl, to a woman. And it is only when you make that realisation; it is only then that you are ready.
When I look back now, at my pregnancy and the months that followed it, it becomes so clear to me that the love and support that surrounded me got me to that point. To the point where I could look at my daughter and know that I was ready. I was ready to be her Mama. It was the clearest and most amazing display of ‘community’ I have ever experienced. It took a village to raise this Mama. And damn, what a village it was…
It was my mom who loved my baby from the very beginning. It was my brother who dropped everything to be with me in my darkest moments. That same brother who dyed his hair pink to honour the arrival of my baby girl. It was friends who stood by me and friends who stood up for me. It was a special friend who took my ‘I want no pink’ mantra, didn’t give a damn and threw me the most epic and pinkest baby shower I have ever seen. It was a new work colleague who bought me my first baby item. It was the doctor who let me listen to my baby’s heartbeat every day in an attempt to connect. It was a friend who almost cancelled a year overseas to be with me. It was a bestie who’s love and support could be felt every day, despite the kilometres that separated us. A bestie who named my baby girl Squidge before even meeting her. It was aunts and cousins who supported my choice. It was my gran who eagerly awaited the birth of her great granddaughter. It was a therapist who will never know the confidence and strength she gave me. It was hearing my belly being called ‘niece’ for the first time. It was a stranger who could see the bond I had with my baby, even before I could. It was an unexpected call from Australia with the instruction to put the phone on my belly so a friend could tell my baby girl a joke. It was gifts and kind words from London, Australia, Kenya and Thailand. It was a baby-daddy whose eyes changed the moment he saw her. It was friends who bought my groceries when I was too tired, and friends who babysat when I went back to work. It was family, strangers, school friends, varsity friends, old friends and new. It was a collection of moments, a community of people.
All these moments changed me. They moulded and shaped me. These moments, these people, they make up my village. It took a village to raise this Mama. And I am proud and honoured to have my daughter surrounded and raised by this village too.
To my village, old and new, I love and appreciate you all! Bella and I would not be where we are today without you.