“While it was really hard, that first gasp of motherhood grounded me in what an unbelievable miracle it is that the human race keeps going.”
Five and a half years ago, my twin daughters were born. We had moved out of our house for a construction project. The contractor botched the project and was not forthright with us. We had to move back into the house without a functioning bathroom right before their birth. We brought two newborn babies to a construction project. It wasn’t a safe space. I noticed that I didn’t get to do this very deeply biological thing with them: this process of nesting, that every mother who’s ever birthed has gone through before her children arrive. I lost that in the process of our house being blighted.
Then, I noticed that we still had so much. We had a roof over our heads and had running water. It was an unseasonably warm April when we brought them home and we had central air. I had two babies, and it is a barely manageable situation for one human to provide full-time care for two newborn infants. But we had resources that for all of human history, mothers simply didn’t have. While it was really hard, that first gasp of motherhood grounded me in what an unbelievable miracle it is that the human race keeps going. It connected me with all mothers: the sacrifices they made of their bodies, lives, dreams, and ambitions to make children possible. Everyone has been mothered at some point. Everybody that you meet has had some woman, at some point, carrying your life inside her body and then throwing herself full force into keeping you alive for the first years of your life. Many of us have done that in impossible circumstances, and yet we continue to make new people possible. The drumbeat of my life has always been mothers and children, mothers and children, mothers and children. But, until I became a mother myself, I didn’t really understand that rhythm.