I remember this photo being taken.
Mo had only recently turned two, still maintaining the chubby wrists and gibberish verbal skills to prove it. Her hair had never even been cut, still slightly resembling a mullet, though neither of us cared. She still looked every bit my baby-- less the little girl I soon came to know and love. I was as madly in love with her then as I am now.
I was only a few days removed from being rushed to a Brooklyn hospital and undergoing emergency surgery to remove my appendix, only eight months after an emergency surgery in a Manhattan hospital to remove my gallbladder. Fresh in my mind was the reality that my health had too easily been taken for granted.
My veins hadn't yet healed from the IV's bruising each of my arms and hands. I was weak and my morale was low. My skin was the faintest shade of yellow, my shoulder showcasing a bruise, caused by a quite-useless shot of morphine given by a far-too-rough nurse. I was too thin and my face was littered with acne- a direct result of the toxicity I had been living with for months, unbeknownst to me. Hidden beneath my far-too-large silk tank were four new open wounds, the portals which allowed the many machines (and the doctor operating them) to remove another one of my organs. Going under general anesthesia without having spoken to Joe or Marlo or any family for a second time was a reality still too painful to even acknowledge having gone through.
I was spent. I felt emotionally defeated and my body, physically traumatized. I was going through the motions, as best I could, doing my damnedest to cope and maintain normalcy for Marlo and everyone around me, while somehow slowly coming to terms with how life kept feeling like an undeserved yet, repeated, ass-kicking.
Ironically, I look like I had it somewhat together, though, that couldn't have been any further from the truth. I had been given strict orders to refrain from lifting Mo or anything over four pounds due to the sutures which had yet to properly close. Not holding my child was altogether a different kind of pain, far beyond the physical laments of surgery. Rather, it felt more like a cruel, let's-add-insult-to-injury punishing wound. I desperately ached to hold her, to comfort her, and to allow her and all of her two-year-old sweetness to soothe and comfort me.
These photos capture me mothering, something not even surgery or a healing process (that had yet to commence) couldn't-- wouldn't-- stop me from doing. I needed to hold her and so I did.
And that's really the underlying, intoxicating beauty of motherhood, isn't it? It remains constant no matter the circumstances. The instinct and love is always, ALWAYS, there. No matter where the road leads me or my kids, they will always, ALWAYS, be mine and I will always, ALWAYS, be theirs. Their arms will always be the place where I feel purpose and my arms will forever be their home, even years and years from when I can actually hold them.
Even though life feels less like the complete wreck it was when these photos were taken, my inexplicable love for that tiny human has remained the same. Mothering her-- though it did not come naturally to me as I embarked on it-- now feels as natural as breathing.
And equally as vital, which often feels like such a double-edged sword-- equal parts comforting and suffocating, providing a grounding center yet disrupting all that I've ever known to be true about independence and balance.
What a wild, wild trip motherhood is...