Motherhood: Something like this, but not this.

Little Tsunami with Nami Clarke

I did all the right things. You know, decaf, multivitaminsOffice-to-dinner maternity wear and the new car-seat, professionally fit.I’d planned it for years – the pitter-patter of feet. I had something in mind like this
but not this.
The room was ready, bags were packed with the first outfit
white, washed twice and pressed.
Champagne? Of course. Text-book they said. Well, something like this,
but not this.

Something like this but not this
Something like this but not this. Image source:

It was to be joyous, rich, full-to-the-brim
with a lifetime of tales to attest
but sometimes I cried more than the baby,
went out rarely for a mother who felt lonely.
I filled a script for the pills and paid professionals to sit
and listen as I talked through it, and through it and through it.
I rearranged the pieces and shuffled them to fit together something like this,
but not this.

Sometimes I’d complain, must have let myself slip.
“Shhhh! Oh, what others would give to have what you have,
look at the boxes you’ve ticked!”
One shot at motherhood, surround them with love,
talk at their level, practice patience, preach love.
I took photos and played dress-ups and we had adventures and road trips.
I worked as soon as I should, breastfed as long as I could
got it right – I suspect – and I said to the man I married and loved
“Isn’t this wonderful? Let’s do it again!” Well, something like this,
but not this.

There was a boy, then his sister – the perfect pair!
“Why would you have another?” they pressed.
“There’s one of each, you’ve done it just right. The house looks great
it’s text-book, it’s true, you’re well again too”.
The life plan, is this it?
Close to something like this,
but not this.

Nami with her children. Image: Katrina Christ Photographer

Motherhood is a peculiar thing
not just the lumps and the bumps but the rest.
On closer inspection things aren’t quite as they seem:
“Walking and talking, your daughter looks fabulous, check!
But her kidneys, we must intercept”.
They held up the X-rays and spoke in their hushed tones
and phoned my husband at midnight to suggest
we might have a problem, we’re in for a big ride.
“So sorry wake you at this hour but I”ve bad news to tell you,
they should look something like this, but no, no, no.
Sorry, not this.”

I’m holding on tight, we’ll be alright
Keep her warm, keep her fed, let her play, give her rest.
They’ll take out a piece here and here;
we’ll bear the scars to prove it here and here.
We’ll walk through it gently so hold hands, hold tight.
Now remember we swore? In sickness, in health, rich or poor,
better or worse or far worse than this. Something like this,
but not this.

Between chemo and tube-feeds, the vomits and temps,
it could be any other Monday, Tuesday, or Friday at best.
If you only pause to glance you’ll see past her fatigue, we could be
any family like the rest.
A new kind of normal, try it on, does it fit?
One kidney less, but who needs that?
She’s not yet four, there’s time, she’ll forget,
but saddle up Mama, I can carry it, carry it, carry it.

Now chin up, soldier on dear,
let the kids skip lightly beside you through this trip.
Keep the routine, and don’t forget – take a breath.
“Me-time” they suggest, schedule that in too.
Then the sick days, the school plays, work and the rest.
Will she lose her hair? How will it grow back?
Something like this?
But not this.

So I reach for my map, the grand plan I have sketched
And they pass me the glue and the tape and the string.
Motherhood, this beast, oh she’s a funny old thing
I’ve seen it before in brochures and TV
and come to think of it, other mothers wearing it down the street.
Like a work of art, layer upon layer, never perfect, but stand back and squint
you’ll get a sense of the concept, I think.
Just fashion together the best of the bits
and pieces you have. Make-do and salvage and reinvent
It will grow if you tend to it, love it and sing to it
you’ll see – you’ve created something
beautiful, divine, sacred, fragile and monstrous.

Something like this, but not this.
Queen Dulcie, Wilm’s Warrior.


4 thoughts on “Motherhood: Something like this, but not this.

  1. This is the closest thing I’ve found to describing what we’ve come through. Tears streaming for what we have all had to endure but still strong. Sending strength to you and yours with bravery scars. Xx

    1. Sending love back to you Kate. Our beautiful girl is now in remission – I wrote this at the most difficult point of our journey, when I was still scrambling to keep everything together. I hope you’ve all made it through your journey safely xx Nami xx

  2. Wow!!! This is the best description I’ve read about what we’ve also been through. My boy is now in remission too ❤️
    Hold them a little closer for a little longer ❤️

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