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  • Writer's pictureJessica Urlichs

For The Strong Women

We have strong women in our family, women who have endured, who get things done, who have faced tough times. My mum and nana would come over with trays of lasagna like medicine, motherhood arms like blankets.

They don’t know everything, but I would phone them at the drop of a hat as if they do.

When I had my first baby, I wasn’t sure if I was one of these strong women. When I left the hospital, I wondered whether he would have been in better care with the nurses there. Surely I wasn’t allowed to leave with this baby? I had no idea what I was doing.

Mum offered to stay with me the first few nights, I had a rough birth and breastfeeding was agony, my nerves were shot the second he woke from a nap. I said ‘No thanks, we’re fine’, and my husband and I muddled through, unsure of this new snappy, tired version of us, filled with love and fear.

Why did no one talk about how hard venturing out of the house with a baby the first time would be? Not just the planning, but the feeling as if your skin had been turned inside out, the everyday things that suddenly morphed into shadowy risks and hazards. And my heart - now made of glass- was suddenly detached.

Why did no one talk about that?

One day we decided to go somewhere further than a walk around the block, I must have accidently faced the pram toward the sun as I was talking, and mum kindly suggested I just turn the pram the other way. That’s all it took for me to decide I was the world’s worst mother, I didn’t know what I was doing, he’d be better off with her, someone with instinct, someone who knew the sun would be blinding my baby.

I burst into tears at the entrance of the farmers market; for the days and weeks piled up from a hard, sleep deprived postpartum, not because of the sun.

I’ll never forget after that, after the days where the meals usually stop, after the weeks where people stop checking in, that was when the women in my life built me up even more.

It took a while to emerge as this new version of myself, a while for my tender arms to hold him more confidently.

I was strong, but I became stronger through their softness, not because I was reminded, because I was shown.

A little poem I wrote:

Like flowers and trees, young and old we stand.

Bending to the light,

to each other.

Like the moon cracks the night,

we shine in the dark.

The blood of each other's blood,

the soul of each other's soul.

Roaring, aching, loving, leaning on each other like dominoes

and somewhere two trees stand nose to nose

so that no matter the season, none of us fall.

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