Disclaimer: I came very close to not publishing this post. It’s likely the most revealing thing I’ve ever written and I hesitated because it has never been something I wanted to admit to. But thinking about the upcoming RUOK Day campaign made me reconsider. If it helps one other new mum feel less alone, and give her hope that this will pass, then it’s worth risking my own pride over…
Father’s Day, 2008; 18 days after the birth of my son.
And it was time to acknowledge the reality that a world existed outside my front door.
I’d had no desire to leave the safety of home, or its nearby vicinity. The act of walking was still painful (hell, even the act of sitting was too!) and being a nervous driver I’d had no want to venture too far a-field. However with my Dad having made a surprise trip from Coffs Harbour to spend Father’s Day with my sister and I, it could no longer be avoided.
Reeling – mentally, emotionally, physically – from the aftershock of birth and the overwhelming knowledge that I was responsible for the most fragile, little person I’d ever known means I have trouble piecing together my memories of that first special Daddy’s Day. All that leapt out from the corners of my mind are the tormenting memories, doused in full technicolour that plagued my beyond exhausted mind.
I should have been excited, that our first major family outing (and Master H’s second ever car outing since we left the hospital) coincided with Father’s Day.
Instead the searing memory of that day remains my own mini emotional breakdown in the back seat of our little blue car.
Pulling into the car park of the golf club, The Husband raced in to sign up for a mid-week game. I was hunched in the back with my newborn, travelling beside him so that he didn’t feel alarmed in this unfamiliar setting. I remember looking out at the endless expanse of rolling greens that seemed to signal freedom from my thoughts, and suddenly I was overcome with an immense and desperate desire to open my car door and just run.
Run and run and run til I could think no more.
Run and run and run to a place I did not know, but somewhere that was bereft of the panic that seemed to choke me, and the fear that ate away at me. Anywhere that I could just exhale because I felt as though I’d been holding my breath from the minute my baby was born.
Arriving at my sister’s home I gratefully handed over the bundle of baby to an eager Poppy. As soon as I could excuse myself I went to lie on my sister’s bed. Wide eyed and watching the clock, I wondered how long I could get away with being absent from the festivities. I was bone tired, but too anxious to sleep. Exhausted not only because I had a restless baby who disliked breastfeeding and sleep, but also from trying to put on a brave face when all I wanted to do was cry.
Fast forward (thankfully) three years on and we celebrated Father’s Day with not only a lucid, happy Mummy who is desperate to put a million miles between her and those raw reflections, but also a 3km hike to a picturesque local lookout. I was quiet most of the trek, reflecting back on those still sensitive memories, that, because of my “elephant-esque memory” are sometimes all too easy to conjure back into existence.
But the husband cajoled me, and he cheered for me when we finally reached our lofty destination.
And it dawned on me, that has also been the way in which we’ve lived the last three years as Mummy & Daddy to our beautiful boy. If I am locked in any sort of emotional or mental tussle, he will bolster both me and my flailing confidence, leading me through to the side where clarity and sanity prevails. He is the family cheerleader, morale booster and glue that keeps our little unit tight.
Similarly, just like the interminably long walk we took today, it too represents how far I’ve come since that day, 3 years before…
Happy fourth Father’s Day babe, thank you for carrying us on your shoulders and back into the light.