Before I had kids, I didn't know...
Well, I could end that whole sentence there, really. I didn't know so much. I wasn't prepared for all the things I didn't know. I don't just mean about kids (though I could write for a hundred years on that topic and still not be done telling you all that I don't know about them). What I didn't know about was motherhood, specifically how it affected the women around me.
I didn't know all of the things that motherhood could mean, that the mere whisper of the word could light one person up and shut another down.
I thought it was easy, becoming a mom. Miscarriages and infertility were rare occurrences, distant aches that happened to far away people. I didn't know there would come a time when it would feel like I knew just as many women who struggled to become moms as I did those who already were. I didn't know the unfulfilled promise that slipped away from me at Christmastime four years ago would tightly bind me to people who might otherwise have been passing ships in my life.
I didn't know.
I didn't know these things until the women around me, bold and beautiful and broken, reached out. I didn't know until I let them sweep up my splintered pieces. I didn't know until they showed me their bruises, too. And then, not in a rush or all at once, but slowly and with great heartache, I knew.
I have friends whose mothers aren't here and those whose babies aren't. Friends who ache to their very core with longing to carry life, and those who are drowning in the every second, minute, hour commitment that little lives bring. It's a complicated web of heart-heaviness that threatens to divide us so we can remain tortured alone. What better way for darkness to win and swallow us whole than to convince women that we're islands in this vast and endless ocean of motherhood? That our pain is too deep and too heavy for anyone on this side of heaven to understand, let alone carry the load with us.
We can remain silent and burdened. Stoop-shouldered with the weight of being unknown and not understood. Or straight-backed and unwilling to bend, lest we break.
But we can also reach out. We can refuse to let those around us think they're the only ones who have ever felt the pounding throb of loss and unanswered questions. We can turn coffee dates and Facebook messages and kitchen tables into glimpses of hope and Heaven.
We can let others know that we know, too.