I didn’t feel the change at first. When I first held my baby, I thought I would know what to do, but I felt the same. The love was overwhelming, but the fulfillment of the massive role of “mother” didn’t come right away.
My role as mother slowly became stitched into my soul in pieces like a patchwork quilt. Some stitches caused pain, but others resulted in the most amazing experiences beyond compare. Each and every stitch is placed with love and care. I knew that I was making something unique, and the bittersweet journey would be worthwhile.
The first stitch pierced my heart and broke it into a million pieces—some of which are still healing—when I left behind my 12-week-old son with a stranger when I returned to work. The struggle to produce enough breast milk while pumping at work—a severe ache and tender swelling—the physical difficulty unmatched only by the emotional strain. The second stitch was ongoing sleep deprivation. The interminably long hours between 1 am to 5 am, despairingly trying to help my baby fall asleep before it was time to start the day all over again. The nights that never seemed to end and the early mornings that came too soon.
Another stitch was birthing my daughter at home with only my husband to help—an unexpected event that taught me how I could be simultaneously in control all while having no idea what I was doing. A most elegant stitch lasted for six months as my husband stayed home with us, and together we traveled both geographically and emotionally, growing unbreakable as a partnership and family.
And the stitches continue—some smaller, some larger, and some that must be undone and replaced. The growth is slow, and it is only when I pause to look back that I realize how much has been accomplished and how much remains.
To create this patchwork quilt of motherhood, I am weaving delicate squares together to provide warmth and comfort for my family. Every day requires more patience than I ever imagined possible and as time continues, I am becoming a better seamstress (or so I think). The threads of love looped through the eye of a sharp needle will always cause scars—some visible but most are unknowable to everyone but me—but what a magnificent pattern they weave.
The brilliantly colored and differently patterned squares align imperfectly, and the quilt remains unfinished. I don’t know what squares will come next, how much fabric I have left, or how many more stitches are required. This lifelong journey of motherhood is raw, compelling, and emotional.
At the end of my life, I hope to leave behind a most lovely quilt.