Sorrow Prepares You For Joy: A Story of Motherhood

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 3 seconds

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”

— Rumi

I just read this Rumi quote as part of an online writing course I’m taking “Write for Love & Liberation” from the Center for Holding Space (just a newsletter once a week with writing activities. The Rumi quote was the inspirational quote today’s email included. They include other full-length poems, suggested books and songs.

The prompt this email responds to is “In the above quote, Rumi says “sorrow prepares you for joy”. Have you had such a time of sorrow that “violently sweeps everything out of your house” so that new joy could enter? Write that story.
And/or write a story of the most joyful moment in your life.”

Interestingly, both of these prompts intersect.

Cliché as it may be, the most joyful moment in my life was the moment my child was born and I first held her in my arms. Most moms would understand and agree? Unless they had a traumatic birth, I guess?

My journey to becoming a mom was sooooo soooo filled with grief and sorrow, you have no idea, unless you were there or you know me so well and I told you.

When I read the prompt, my first thought was… oh yeah. The struggle of having fertility challenges, how it messes up your marriage and sex life, the emotional toll, the yearning and obsession it becomes… and then once you start fertility treatment, the physical demands it has on your body and the emotional roller-coaster from the treatments themselves and from having them fail over and over and over.

But that story, though huge, is actually minor compared to what happened after I found out I was pregnant. I found out I was pregnant, then my country went into revolution and I couldn’t participate because my “precious” pregnancy was also extremely painful and uncomfortable at first, I could barely walk around the house without getting breathless. The revolution was stressful and hopeful and eventually change happened and we felt extreme elation. Then my dad had a really bad accident and broke his hip. So, surgery and hospital stay and immobility for months. Then my husband traveled and got really sick aboard and came back and had to be hospitalized for a while. Then in the middle of all that, at the beginning of my 4th month of pregnancy I had bleeding. Thankfully I didn’t lose the baby, but I had to stay on relative bedrest for a while, so couldn’t visit my husband for a while. Then my husband came out, was kind of OK, then needed more medical care. Then he sort of got better, but then my dad passed away. Yes. And then… 3 months later, my daughter was born. And everything disappeared. Years of fertility challenges, the whole 9 months of anxiety and suffering and grief dissolved into just one feeling. Pure joy. All I wanted to do for the rest of my life was hold her in my arm. And that’s pretty much what I did for the first six months of her life. She slept on my chest, in my arms, in the baby carrier. And that was joy.

Parenting itself is like 90% pain/suffering and 10% joy. But the 10% joy is sooooo worth it all.

4 thoughts on “Sorrow Prepares You For Joy: A Story of Motherhood

  1. Beautifully put, Maha. Thank you for sharing the personal alongside the professional, and interweaving the sorrow and the joy in your writing.

  2. Beautiful, Maha. I was made to think of creative destruction while reading your piece. Something needs to change in order for something new to be reborn. I suppose we could say that we ourselves need to change – be changed so that something new can be experienced, reborn.

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