Awful Wonderful


awful wonderful, stories of motherhood / the refined woman photo by ashley kelemen

I used to journal all the time. I have boxes filled with daily and weekly reports of things I did, saw, felt and thought.

But when I had my daughter, everything changed. And so did my writing. I have filled barely half a diary in the two years since she arrived. It’s not that I don’t have the time anymore. It’s that I just don’t know how to process the magnitude of each day. We do simple things, and yet the feelings I have are so complex.

There have been days that have been truly awful. Days that seemed to stretch on for eternity. Days that I have struggled to drive my car through an anxiety that felt like a thick and terrible fog. There have been times when I thought, “I cannot do this” and “why is this so hard?”

I still am grasping to understand why motherhood has brought me through some of the darkest seasons of the soul.

But those dark days are punctuated by moments of bright shining light. Moments that I thought my heart might explode from the sheer awe of seeing this tiny human grow and become a person with thoughts and feelings of her own. Small, quiet moments where I’ve held her sleeping and smelled her fuzzy head that have filled me with a gratitude that I didn’t know was possible.

Somehow motherhood is the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced.

There’s no way to write one story about it all. All I know is that there are a million smaller stories that make up one big one. I want to tell all the little stories, because maybe one day I’ll be able to look back and see them together and form the right shape around it.

There are so many little stories I want to tell you. About the day I found out I was pregnant. And about the day the ultrasound technician told us, “girl.” About that time I drove my wailing newborn to the store to buy film for a shoot only to get there without my wallet. Stories of epic failure and stories of amazing redemption. Funny stories and probably stories about poop.

Maybe someday I’ll turn these stories into postcards, send them to myself when I’m feeling sad or just need a laugh. I’ll remember what it was like to live these awful and wonderful days and maybe I’ll long for them like we tend to do with the past. I just don’t want to forget any of it. I don’t want it to pass me by without recognizing what was hard, but mostly, what was really really good.

Motherhood is a mysterious thing. I don’t presume to know the half of it, even now. All I have are the stories that are mine to tell, and all I can do is to try to tell them well.



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