Motherhood changes you. Irrevocably. And it’s not just the stretch marks, the ravages of labour, or the bon voyage to sleep.
Nor is it ‘just’ the incredible, insane fact that you’re now entirely responsible for a life that’s not your own, either.
Becoming a mother is a metamorphosis; it’s the death of a self, and the rebirth of a woman who may feel uncomfortable, out of place, in her new skin. She’ll have to learn selflessness, surrender. And she will encounter a riptide of emotions that might – in those grey hours before dawn, or in the unexpected solitude alongside her new companion – drag her beneath the surface.
To bring life into the world, while saying goodbye to the one you knew – and loved – is the painful, poetic paradox of what it means to have a child.
Author Kristen Hedges has encapsulated the uniquely incomparable experience of a new mother, with a volume of stories that lay bare the feelings during those first days, weeks and months of motherhood.
Hedges writes: “Stories of birth are celebrated and shared freely, as they should be. But the hollow moments afterward…are a strange and foreign place to be, and are hardly talked about at all…this leaves new mothers feeling forced to carry on as if nothing much has changed. They stumble into motherhood blindly…fumbling with the wanting body of a newborn, and the birth of a Mother, and the death of an Ego.”
Mama, Bare, is a collection of raw, yet fleeting moments, remembered and written by mothers, for mothers. It is at once mournful and joyous – a true depiction of the journey into motherhood.
One of the many, heartbreakingly beautiful stories within the book, Karyn’s chapter begins:
“Dear Beautiful Girl –
There was a time, a long time, before you, when I belonged entirely to myself. Sometimes I sit and remember that girl – the careless way she travelled through the world, the ease with which she made plans and changed them, her fearless daring heart that jumped and risked and broke and stacked up sleepless nights like they were nothing but fuel for her mischievous fire…Some days I miss her terribly, miss her like a limb or a purpose or home.”
And then; “Even as I remember the girl who was before you, I can’t wrap my heart around a time when you weren’t with me, as though you were something always carried, somewhere in my girlhood and my singleness and our early marriage, something always waiting to come and break and mend everything all at once…”
Hedges’ book gives words to the inexplicable, and grants you the freedom to feel – everything: from the bittersweet wave of nostalgia for the past, washing over you in the dead of sleepless nights, to the unrelenting, consuming love that pulls you back to shore.
Nowhere does the curator of mothers’ memories attempt to edit the discomfiting aspects of the postpartum narrative; and it is this exposed truth, an exquisite honesty, that emboldens our spirits, and heals those hurts we’ve never spoken aloud.
As such, Mama, Bare, is a gift for any – and all mothers.