Monday, May 9, 2011

the mother I was

For years I have looked back on my first year of parenting and seen mostly…


Blurry, sleepless, panicky, lonely, word-less, lost, shrinking, confused,


I have looked back and thought…

That was the year I suffered post-partum depression. That was the year I stopped sleeping. The year my sister flew out three times from Australia to see us (but also to check in, check in, check in). That was the year I felt like I'd failed. The year I saw doctors, psychiatrists, and counsellors, went to a managing depression class, and was told to take medication. That was the year I agreed, began to take medication, saw a counsellor regularly, reached out to friends and family for help, exercised, and finally,



I have mentioned to my kids some of what I went through, but only lightly. I didn't want to worry them, or have my son think I wasn't completely in love with him the year he arrived. (Because I was. Oh, I loved him so much I couldn't sleep for fear I'd miss the moment he needed me.)

Over the following year, I crawled my way out of the darkness, with my son's tiny hand in mine.

With the love of family and friends, I made my way to joy.

It took me years, literally, to see myself as a good mother. Years!

But I am here now.

So yesterday,

ten years after I began my journey towards wellness,

I settled in with my beautiful family, to watch my husband's Mother's Day present to me:

All the videos of our first year as parents, made into a movie.

We filled dozens of little film cassettes that first year. I had no idea where we'd put them in our various moves, from country to country, home to home. But my husband found them and, over the past year, has been sorting, compiling, editing, adding backdrops and captions.

Finding the memories, noting the joy.

Making a present of our history.

I watched an hour

of our first year as parents…

and it was filled with light.

There I am, smiling and laughing. There's my husband, dancing with my son to jazz in our living room. There's my mother, smiling as my son tries to take off her glasses. There are my sister and her small daughters, holding my son, laughing with us, dancing, playing music.

There is my husband in the shower with my tiny boy. There—is the sneaky shot I took of my husband's bottom while in the shower. There—is my impish grin. There, and there—a peal of laughter—mine. There is my face, close up, leaning forward to kiss the top of my son's head. There—is love.

There is joy. There is sunshine. And discovery, and laughter, and time with the people I love most.

Friends, family, other children, music music everywhere. The sun literally pours into the rooms. My voice is gentle. The love is whole and pure.

There is the mother I was.

There is the love I had.

There is the son I adored.

There is light.

There was light in that first year. My husband found it, and ten years later, gave it to me as a gift.

Can he ever know what a huge gift that was?

Because it came home to me, like a hard hug, a jolt. I was there, the whole time, that year. The mother I was then is the mother I am now. The love was as deep and whole and good then as it is now.

I can be proud of the light I carried, and the love.

I can let go of the old,
let go of the dark.

And to my husband
and the ones I love so dearly, I say:
thank you.


  1. What a beautiful journey. I love how you reconcile who you were then, and who you were now. Same, yet different. I think maybe you and I have similar philosophies on life and balance. That happiness does not exist without sadness. And that sometimes we have to move through dark to know that the light is still there. This video was wonderful. Thank you again, for sharing such intimate parts of yourself. Happy Mother's Day Helena :).

  2. Helena - you should be published everywhere. Your writing is so FULL.

  3. That is so wonderful that you saw light in those videos!

  4. Helena your words are so beautiful. Do you know how much I love them? I am sitting here smiling, on this sad day for me, because of you. I love the words, I love the video. Kei and I watched it together and smiled. You are beautiful and so is your boy. I love that your husband did that for you.

  5. I love the light! I love your video - thank you for sharing and also for sharing the story that goes with it.

  6. This was a beautiful piece. It made me tear up! It sounds like you have a special family and a beautiful life together.

    I didn't suffer from PPD, but something vaguely similar that most people haven't heard of. It's a condition called D-MER.

    Anyway, so happy I found your blog (via MJ @ WanderWonderDiscover)
    You're very talented!


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.