When I was younger, approaching my twenties, I had an idea of what a mother might be. If I was to be a mother, I would be calmer. I would be more rounded at the corners. Noises would not scare me, nor empty houses; I would be secure and grounded. I would not quake or tremble at uncertainty, I would be sure and safe. I imagined having children. I would bear them, rounded and solid, in a wooly cardigan stroking my full belly. I would be a mother; a word that soothes and warns in a breath, a person that keeps the fragile safe and keeps dangers at bay in a single roar.
I feel a failure at the reality of my children’s lives. K is so scared of the normal deadlines of life. J sits and stares at a screen all day. And L, she needs help to drink a drop of milk. There is nothing I can do that is easy. Instead I do the things that calm me: I clean and polish, in the order I am used to. In between the moments I try and make sense of our world. I haven’t left the house in days.
I want to be a better mother to my daughter. I want to help my anorexic daughter eat. I wish my anxious daughter would find a way to show the world how wonderful she is. J stays staring at the computer screen. This isn’t how it was supposed to be.