Miguel, my oldest son, has finally arrived at an age (he’s 7!) where I remember myself at his age. I’m not one of those people who have a good memory, I have vague memories… But 7 years was an important date in my life: I moved to another city, my mother got married and I remember a lot about adapting to the new school, in the city, I miss my grandmother. At 7 years old I really remember a lot. And maybe that’s why I felt Miguel’s moment so strongly.
When Mig was born I remember the exact scene: my grandmother sitting with me in the living room at home, a small and charming apartment in Pompeii. I looked at her and asked with all my heart “grandma, how did you manage to have 3 daughters? It’s very difficult, I can’t do it, I’m exhausted, what life is this?”. And she very cute told me “it’s not easy, really, no, but things are getting right, life is falling into place, you’ll see”. And it was. Tom was born in the middle of the pandemic, total chaos. At that time, we were living in a temporary apartment because our house was being renovated, my grandmother couldn’t come stay with me and I already had another child to take care of. And I swore that the second time I would already be wise and smart, I found it again very difficult to have a tiny baby in the house.
While Tom arrived, nursed, settled in… Miguel changed schools, became literate in remote teaching, felt jealous, missed his friends, fear of covid and I started to wonder if things really got easier with time — as I always believed them to be and how I felt it happening, until then.
Babies demand full attention from me, I can’t look away, I need to be there all day, all night to breastfeed exclusively on demand. And this demand I find desperate. It’s an internal struggle for me, I don’t like life summarized in breastfeeding, sleeping when I can, eating what doesn’t cause colic, changing diapers, bathing. It bores me, physically tires me, makes me insecure, disorganizes me.
At Miguel’s birth I thought I was going to die, there was absolutely something wrong with me (and, today we all know, there was nothing wrong, it was just overload). Then, when Tom arrived, I already knew what I could handle and couldn’t, and I also knew what was happening. And passes. And it’s much nicer (for me!) to have children, who talk, laugh, play. I held on to it, and as hard as it was, I knew it would pass. It was a puerperium, of course, but I spent it in peace.
Until Miguel turned 7 and everything got difficult again and I even started to miss him as a newborn, stuck in the sling on my lap. But being very realistic, it took me half a year to understand that it was difficult, but I wasn’t suffering. Difficult, yes, but not painful, as I personally find babies’ first year. I went back to needing to be very attentive all the time, I didn’t have the answers again, I felt insecure in my motherhood again.
And, mainly, I started to feel his pain in me. It took me a while to understand but it’s obvious: Miguel is living the first age I remember being, the first age I can feel the pain he feels in my skin, the first time I have a physical, emotional and affective memory and I can relate directly with what he feels. And off I went back to mother-child-whatever-what-it-you-can-name literature.
That’s when I understood that 7 years old is really an age where behaviors change, the way they look at the world and the way they feel is no longer what it was in early childhood. Learning to read, write, gain responsibilities, it is also at 7 that the child begins to experience the world with more autonomy and less through father and mother — it was only that year that Miguel started to be alone at children’s parties, for example.
There’s no way to grow without hurting, I guess. There are no longer ways to gain autonomy, responsibility and rights without being afraid. And it was only after all this random thinking, going over the last few years and blaming the pandemic that I really understood what I needed to do: be available for this whirlwind of emotions and news.
And, not for nothing, it was in this last year that I understood that I really like being a mother.eu It took me 7 years to be absolutely sure that I love being a mother of my children precisely because I love living with these other human beings who are learning everything, getting to know everything and who need me as a margin, lap, affection, love and attention. It was only now, in the 7 years of Mig, that I understood the role I have to fulfill and I cannot delegate: it is to be my children’s safe haven, to ensure that they have the space to be who they are and not who I would like them to be. were. A huge, gigantic and eternal work of respect and love, of limits and freedom. But hey, infinitely better (and more challenging, I admit) than it looked in the boys’ first year, honestly.
The exhausting hassle of the beginning has passed and the new phase of the game, the new challenge, although infinitely more delicate and difficult, is much more interesting. Happy Mother’s Day to people who discover every day which mother we are capable of being and which mother our children need us to be.