A friend asked me, after everything that happened in January, whether I’d crashed yet. No, I answered, but I’m expecting it.
I was expecting it to happen straight away. I was expecting to fall to the ground and cry when it was all over. I was expecting it to come when life went back to normal and the world quieted. I started to forget that I was expecting it when it didn’t happen.
Five and a half months. That’s apparently how long it has taken the ‘crash’ to come. I stood in my kitchen this morning, waiting for the jug to boil and the grill to heat up, and the tears came. I seem to have bottled it back up for now, I’m not quite ready to crash yet, I still have so much to do, I have to keep holding it together. But it was a reminder that at some point I need to deal with my feelings about January.
Why has it taken so long? I’ve managed to wrap us up in a cushy little bubble. Every now and then something knocks our bubble flying, but I made my bubble tough. It’s not breaking. Yet. It will. I know.
What lead to the tears this morning? Something simple. Something mundane. I’m having a conflict of ideas and ideology with another mum at my daughter’s school. It’s no big deal, it’s not a personal thing, there’s no anger or animosity. It occurred to me this morning that it rankles me, that she keeps referring to being a mother as a ‘job’, ‘business’. It’s not to me. Not anymore. I realised that after January my ideas and philosophy on parenting are worlds away from where they were.
I used to be like a lot of other parents, you raise your kids because that’s what you do. You love them, you cherish them, you sometimes resent the sacrifices you make for them, you feel taken for granted because mum is just expected to be there, you take them to all their sports and activities because that’s just what you do.
Five days. That’s how long I spent not knowing whether my daughter was alive or dead. I didn’t know where she was. I didn’t know who she was with. I didn’t know whether she was being taken care of. I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again. You can’t go through something like that and not be changed by it. I think I’m only just realising now, just how much it changed me. I think the tears this morning were the start of the grief for that loss of blissful ignorance.
I see her differently now. I see my role as a mother differently now. And I see other mothers who have never been through what I’ve been through (and I hope they never do, no one should ever go through that), who never think about whether that can happen to them, live in their own little bubble.
In their bubbles, it’s not a daily thought for them – there is a chance I may never see my child again. I envy them. I can’t ever live in that bubble again. Mine broke and I had to make a new one.
It’s a tougher bubble, but it can’t last forever. It’s not made to. No one should have to live in fear every day. For now it protects us. One day, there will come a time when we don’t need it.