Only… this untethering? It’s a big fat lie. You will feel like that cord is still inside of you, tracing a line from your heart to this terrifying creature’s forever. On days when your baby’s fever reaches 104, you’ll feel that cord tighten around your chest. That first big booboo, the one that makes you call your mom in a panic and ask if you need to go to ER? The cord will run straight from baby to you and through the phone to your mother, faster than velocity broadband. When your child sleeps in the crook of your arm, the cord will slacken, falling loosely around you both like a wilted daisy chain.
But. There will be days, mamas. Oh, there will be days. Days when your children take, take take. Days when from sun-up to sun-down, you don’t get a single solitary second to yourself, not even to use the bathroom. In fact, you will use the bathroom with a child (sometimes two!) sitting on your lap and possibly simultaneously drinking from your breast. Days when the sweet sounds of their chirping voices feel like a cheese grater to your ear drums, days when they throw the impossibly small pieces of diced fruit and cheese you just spent too long preparing on the floor because you used the wrong goddamn fox plate, days when they smear pizza grease on your favorite sweater, days when they break some special thing someone essential gave you before you even knew these stupid kids. Days when, if you have more than one, your kids will fight about every thing, not “everything” but every actual thing. Days when your kids fail. Days when you fail. And on these days, that cord will tighten around your wrists, trapping you so firmly you’re certain if you push your sleeves up, you’ll see ligature marks from the struggle.
You will never be free.
Your children will grow, their problems will grow, the cord will grow and shrink and sprout barbs and get hopelessly tangled. Motherhood will get less physical but the worrying will get darker and more complex. Your child will insult you, maybe tell you they hate you, speak to you like you’re nothing. You will worry if you’ve made them strong enough, confident enough, kind enough. You’ll worry, all the time. The cord will all but strangle you.
Except that, mamas, it won’t always be hard, even when it feels that way. One day you will come home from work and before you even reach the front door, you will hear it. Music. Laughing. You will walk into your house and dinner will be simmering on the stove and the warm paprika and cayenne will flood your nostrils and wake you up – for real, from the inside. Your partner will smile over his shoulder and your smelly dog will rush up and butt his head against your thighs. Your children… your splendid, imperfect children, they will be dancing. Honest to god dancing to some old song you and your partner used to listen to when you were red wine drunk and a hundred years younger and you will see pieces of each of you in each of them and – get this – you will join in. You won’t even take your coat off. You will toss your bags willy nilly on the counter top and rush in to meet their laughing eyes and clumsy limbs. It will only be music and laughing.
As you move, you’ll feel that tangled cord start to unravel, smooth out, pull itself taut and poised like a nickel-plated electric guitar string and you – you! – will rock the fuck out.
In that moment, mamas, you feel it, OK? Promise me you'll feel it. These generous moments come without warning and need to see us through. You let that shimmery guitar string cord cut right into the fleshy part of your heart and form a callous so that the next time you feel this, your body remembers the soft miracle of your own unraveling.