Like Velveteen Mama real.
I am sure you know the premise of The Velveteen Rabbit, either from having read the story yourself or from having it told to you at some point in your childhood: a velveteen rabbit becomes “real” to its young charge once it’s been loved to the point that its whiskers fall out, its coat becomes shabby, and its eyes become dull.
I have no whiskers (at least not that I know of), but after three pregnancies, my hair has become shabby, and glancing at the full-length mirror—stamped with my daughter’s mini handprints and slobbery kisses—I can see that my bloodshot eyes have become dull.
Motherhood is the most complicated gift I’ve ever been given.
Each day—almost without fail—I am overwhelmed by the beauty of my daughters. And I find myself wanting to hold them still so that I can capture them in my memory, knowing that—even then—they are changing as if their lives are zipping past on high shutter speed.
And each day—almost without fail—I also become overwhelmed by the ceaseless demands of these beautiful daughters of mine, the elder who sometimes attaches herself to my calves like a barnacle before I’ve had the chance to pour the breakfast cereal (not to mention the coffee).
It is this constant overwhelmed state that evokes such exhaustion; that makes me feel that my threads are starting to show, and I’m soon going to be tossed in the garden behind the fowl house (which is where the Velveteen Rabbit ends up when his young charge gets scarlet fever).
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” ~Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Motherhood brings out the real in us becomes our synthetic materials are getting worn off through the daily wear and tear of our children’s love.
Our backs and knees ache from getting down to tie shoes, wipe noses, and give horsy rides to thirty-pound toddlers; our breasts feel like they’re being loaned out to a high-demand diary operation; our knuckles, collarbones, and chins are pruned from being used as teething implements; our eyes burn from reading Little Golden Books in the dark because we hope the lack of light will entice sleep.
And then we sneak off to bed, tracing our lusterless hair and popped stitches, knowing that tomorrow the demands of love are going to be the same.
But eventually, this high shutter speed of life is going to slow down, and we are going to see that the beloved ones who brought out the gray hairs are grown.
That time, I know, will bring with it some of the most complicated gifts—freedom to sleep when we want to rock our children; freedom to go out to eat with our spouses where all we do is talk about the “good old days” when our daughters and sons were living at home.
Then we will sigh, pay the bill, and return to our darkened houses. We will climb the stairs with our knees and back aching from all those years we spent getting worn out and poured out, and we will be so grateful that through the wear and tear, our synthetic materials have been worn away, and though our arms are empty, we have become real through the ceaseless demands of love.
Has motherhood–or another relationship–changed you through its ceaseless demands of love?