I have never before felt so open to every sling and arrow; I have never before felt so brave.

Posted on Posted in journal, squawk

It's like growing another heart.

That's what an obstetrician said to me, when I was pregnant. We were talking about depression, and my fears relating to motherhood, and she meant it as reassurance. Evidence of how rewarding having a child would prove to be, an offering of the greater promise and joy in store for me.

Mostly, however, it terrified me. Because I knew even then she was right — more right than she seemed to realise. Another heart meant more room for joy, yes, but only because it meant more room for every emotion. Fear. Pain. Hurt. Confusion. Defeat.

And the kicker is that second heart lies outside the curve of my ribs, beyond my arms' reach, so vulnerable and fragile and forever lost to me. I cannot protect it.

Becoming a mother is growing another heart — and then casting that heart out into the wild and savage world. Taking the key to your own destruction and giving it into the hands of strangers.

4 thoughts on “I have never before felt so open to every sling and arrow; I have never before felt so brave.

  1. "You want to tell a story? Grow a heart. Grow two. Now, with the second heart, smash the first one into bits."

    Suddenly, this quote from Charles Yu's How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe has taken on a whole new meaning. Now it says to me: You want to tell a story? Become a mother, because motherhood will break your heart and rebuild it simultaneously. And then you get to write about it. At 3am, in the blissful lull when your second heart is finally alseep.

    We can't protect our children with our arms, it's true. Not always. Not forever. But stories will save them when nothing else can, the same way they saved us, once; and the same way, I think, that they'll keep on saving us, over and over and over again, until the layered ink on our hearts has thickened into armour.

    We are wordsmiths, you and I. We send out our hearts – our children, our words – so that they'll come back stronger; but until then, we must wait for them. And there's only one way to do that, really.

    Write. And write. And write.

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