I was going to hate Disneyland.

by renegademama

When we walked into Disneyland I looked around and thought “I have either entered the happiest place on earth or the axis of evil, but it sure is clean!”

I’ll admit it. I was skeptical. The price alone made me hate it. Then you add princesses and rides and masses of humanity and I figured the DMV on a Friday afternoon would be more fun.

But my kids really, really wanted to go and Mac and I felt some sort of American Obligation to take our kids to the big D-land. We put it off approximately 12 years, the age of our oldest daughter.

 

The problem is, within moments of walking through the front gate I was having a silly amount of fun. I was embarrassing myself. It was actually kind of irritating, were it not so fun.

I don’t know why exactly. It just was. The kids were walking around on clouds. I got such a kick out of watching them. I was kinda giddy. Mac was too. He may have skipped. We were a couple of kids ourselves.

All the planters were perfect and bright and balanced and shit. The rides were genuinely exciting and amusing. Weird puppets sang catchy tunes. Lights blinked. Things felt okay. I thought it would be a very strange place to drop acid.

I expected the standard amusement park smell of hamburgers, urine, and broken dreams. Instead I seemed to just smell good stuff. And clean. Good, clean stuff.

Yeah, the princesses. The materialism. The consumerism. And the lady yelling “Shut up!” in the face of her toddler, gripping his arm. And the lines. And the stores. And the asshole shuttle driver. And the “red man” (ohmygod) in the Peter Pan ride.

But, my family. My four kids and dad and stepmom and mom. And my brother and sister-in-law and nephews and niece.

Georgia looking up at me yelling “Goofy! He is REAL! He’s right THERE!” Ava and I taking pictures of ourselves on the Buzz Lightyear ride. Riding in the car singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” while Rocket “drove” and cackled. Going on Splash Mountain with my kids and Mac and hearing Georgia roar “That was scary but AWESOME. Let’s do it AGAIN!”

 

A few moments after returning to the hotel, while we took an afternoon break before heading back to Disneyland, I read a post on Facebook stating that my friend’s daughter had passed away just hours earlier from complications from Leukemia. She would have been 3 years old on November 4.

Lucy Selah, November 4, 2011 – October 24, 2014.

Through tears I looked around at that hotel room over there in Anaheim and I saw the Mickey ears sitting on that table and the Goofy stuffed animal I bought Georgia and the Pooh bear for Arlo, because we took him on that ride, and I felt the disgusting juxtaposition of where I was versus where my friend was, mere hours into her living nightmare.

I was skipping about PleasantVille in virtually pure carefree bliss while she was in a hospital, saying her final goodbyes to her baby girl.

The happiest place on earth.

Leukemia.

There’s no way to make sense of that. None. There’s no way to make sense of one day eating Mickey ear ice creams and the next day  watching your toddler crush under the weight of disease.

There’s no way to make sense of it and I won’t try. My thoughts were stupid and trite. I have no better ones now.

I thought about Lucy and cried some more and looked over all the pictures of her, the ones we had seen over the months, as she fought for her young life. I thought about her and her mom and siblings and dad and I was glad I wasn’t too good for Disneyland, that I took it in fully for once, that I let go of my old ideas to just be there fully with my family. I get caught up in failed expectations or exhaustion or just good ol’ self-centered preoccupation sometimes, and I miss it. Life. I miss the bouncing blonde heads around me. The action. The pulse and light and sound. It’s really fucking hard to remember.

But that trip to Disneyland had me in it, fully. I was terribly grateful for those couple of days.

I felt it in my bones as I read those words “Our little Goose spread her wings and flew away home this afternoon.”

 

I wanted to do something, say something, fix something. But I was there, and the only thing to do was keep on going. It all felt silly after that, the lights and puppets and weird sounds. The perfect planter boxes and characters and fireworks. It felt small and ridiculous and false.

But it felt like life, this good, good life – and I saw her face in my mind as I spent $24 on 3 freaking Mickey balloons, just to see the joy in my own toddler, niece and nephew.

I should have bought a fourth, and let it go into the sky, for no other reason than to watch it disappear.

 

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If you feel compelled to help, please consider making a donation to Lucy’s family to help support them through this time.

Her memorial service is Sunday, two days before what would have been her 3rd birthday.

I also want to thank those of you who have already donated. With just one Facebook post on the Renegade Mothering page, over $2,500 was raised. I have long suspected the best humans read this blog. You are proving me right.

THANK YOU.

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16 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | October 30, 2014

I don’t hate you, but I’ll probably ignore your parenting advice

by renegademama

A few years ago, when I started this blog, I created the tagline “Join me in the fight against helpful parenting advice.”

This is, of course, a joke. But like most jokes, it’s also true. I’m pretty sure my special talent is the ability to shoot down parenting advice in midair.

This is not because I think I know everything. I haven’t known everything in at least 10 years.

It isn’t because I’ve never received helpful advice. My midwife suggested I set one goal each day (clean my bedroom, do the laundry, etc.) and just do that first. The rest I’ll get to if I can. I tried this. It worked. I still do it.

And it isn’t that I think you know nothing. I watch you. I see you succeeding. I know you know all kinds of things. Well, some of you. Some of you are are not succeeding. Like Matt Walsh, for example.

There’s some ego involved. When I share some story about my kids, particularly if there’s a hint of negativity in it, and Other More Knowledgeable Parents share their “how-to tips” with me, I often respond (in my head) with a tween-like “fuck off” for no reason beyond I don’t like being told what to do.

Maturity. It’s my jam.

Who the hell are you to tell me how to parent? You know nothing about my family. I wasn’t writing for help. When I want help I’ll ask for it.

I DON’T WANT YOUR ADVICE.

 

And the reason is pretty simple: IT NEVER WORKS.

Or it might work, but probably not. And if it works, it probably won’t work with the next kid, or in 6 months, or tomorrow. And after I hear your advice, and try it, and it doesn’t work, I’ll spend a while feeling shitty because the advice isn’t working, but there’s a chance I won’t be able to face that fact, because IT WORKED FOR YOU so it “SHOULD” work for me so now I feel like a failure for not applying advice correctly so I just keep trying and trying and trying until I say FUCK THIS NOISE and start a blog.

Because I’m tired of the bullshit, the idea that there’s any uniformity to this insanity, that parenting philosophies will work for all, or even most, or anybody for that matter. I’m tired of people creating road maps for that which cannot be tracked.

Hey parenting books, you’re applying your map to my land and my land has never been seen before. So fuck your maps.

Oh come on. I know I’m not the first person in the world to have kids. I know my kids aren’t some never-seen-before uniquely gifted snowflakes. They’re kids. We’re a family. Pretty standard.

But the fact is that the shit that makes my family really difficult, the parts that are tough and unclear and gray and rugged – the problems for which I really wish I had solutions or “advice” that works – cannot be “solved” by something that worked for you. I listen to your ideas. I think about them. I try it out. But the brutal truth is that just like anything else in life, there is no silver bullet. There is no “sure fix” to the shit that isn’t working in my life.

But we don’t want to admit that with parenthood because the stakes are too fucking high. We can’t accept “don’t know shit” as the pinnacle of our parental credentials. We don’t want to accept “flawed human” as the CEO of young lives.

It’s too hard. There’s too much happening. There are babies and kids and tears, trust and reliance and broken sprits and wild kid joy, there’s innocence and vulnerability and memories to be made, reformed, forgotten and recrafted through a lifetimes of what the hell will my kids remember?

When I yelled? When we laughed? When I lost it and screamed in her face? That camping trip in Tahoe? The crystal blue? Or the dark and cold?

 

I couldn’t stop yelling at my older daughter. She will be 13 in a month. Every day, I couldn’t stop. It was like everything she did was an affront to something in me.

We battled over and over and over and over again.

I’d lie down at night and wonder if there were any moms meaner than me. Secretly I knew they’re weren’t.

Sometimes I would try to blame her. She can be annoying, you know. She’s got a very strong personality. Rigid, at times. If she would just.

No. Not it.

I’d conclude I’m unfit to be a mother.

Why did I have all these kids?

What the fuck is wrong with me?

I’m the only one who treats their kids like this.

On and on like this. Days, weeks. Maybe months.

 

It’s exhaustion, from the newborn. The stress of lack of money.

No.

Wake up, drink some coffee. Try again today. Fail again today. Tell them you love them.

 

Until one day I lost it. It built and built and built. I could feel it coming, rage, a voice in my head, “Janelle, stop now. STOP NOW.” But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I saw red, screamed and swore at my daughter. Not the kind of yell you tell your friends about. The kind of yell you pretend didn’t happen because you can’t face it in yourself. The kind you want to run from, hide from, forever. The kind that terrorizes and destroys, leaves you wrecked and shaking from shame.

After, I collapsed in my room. My fury made my body shake. My heart pound. My whole body seemed to writhe and push and pull against something. I was furious. I wanted to punch, hurt things.

And after there was utter sadness. Desperate sadness. The surrender kind of sadness. The kind that knocks you breathless and pounds your gut, consumes you at once, spits you out and leaves you for dead.

I saw myself, a monster, screaming. I felt it all again. I saw her face, her eyes. In my mind I looked deep into her gorgeous young face and realized I was not yelling at my daughter at all.

I was yelling at myself.

I was yelling at my fear.

I was yelling at my terror that she would turn out like me, make the mistakes I did, walk a path so dangerous she may not survive at all. She was entering her teenage years, the years when I got lost, when it all began for me. I was furious that she was like me, and terrified that she would not be better than me.

And there is nothing I can do about it.

It wasn’t her that was driving me nuts. It was my hatred of myself being reflected back to me through a child with very similar characteristics.

I told her that. Every word. Our relationship was reborn.

 

There is no book to tell me to look there, in the part of me I don’t even know exists. There’s no parenting advice called “Surrender to the most fucked up parts of yourselves so you can face the truth and move on and become better for your kids.” There’s nobody who can do that work for me. There’s nobody who can make me braver, more willing to see the truth. There’s nobody who can break me for me, stand wild-eyed with love in the gaze of these beings so entwined with my own heart, mind, past and memories.

This fucked-up path is mine, world. The victories too.

 

So please, sure, tell me how you fixed that clogged milk duct, or what food you started your kid on, or how you got your 6-month-old to sleep through the night or your 4-year-old to obey, and I’ll listen, and I’ll file it away as potentially useful information. I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes.

But understand that my vacant stare is because I’ve accepted that all the words in the world can’t make this gig easier. Some kids sleep. Some don’t. Some are built for school. Some aren’t. Some fit some don’t some listen some don’t some write some build some are like nothing that makes sense and some are just “right” in this world.

I have a little of this and a little of that. It’s gray and weird and shifting and relentless.

And the only one who can navigate it, in the end, is me. Them. Us.

Maybe a little of you.

I don’t really need your advice.

But I think I need you. Tell me how you keep walking your path, the unknown, as the world looks on shouting useless direction. That’s some shit I can seriously use.

We had to enter the next place, and I didn't want to go. We're there now.

We had to enter the next place, and I didn’t want to go. We’re getting there now.

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Today I made a mistake that could have killed my son

by renegademama

Today I made a mistake that could have cost my son his life.

You know we all look at those parents who forget their kid in the car due to a change in routine or stop watching them for 5 minutes near a body of water, or make some other fatal error in judgment, and we think “Dummies. Assholes. I would never be that stupid.”

And maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe your version of stupid is different from theirs. But the fact is that we all have those lapses in judgment. We all have those moments of stupid. We all make those decisions in the heat of just the right or wrong moment that in hindsight appear absolutely idiotic, even insane.

 

We were running late. My oldest is sick and I was taking care of her. We left the house 5 minutes too late. When we got to the school we had 4 minutes before school started. The parking lot, where I normally drop my 9-year-old off, was closed to make room for busses for a big field trip. I couldn’t see where to drop my boy. The parking parent suggested I drive down the street, turn around and wait in the 20-car-line coming the other direction, on the side of the school.

This bothered me. It would make my boy 15 minutes late instead of 2.

And his student report said he was tardy too much.

And I’m trying so damn hard to get him there on time, to do my part for his education. He’s dyslexic. He already has a hard enough time.

So I decided I would let him off on the side of the road and he could cross in the crosswalk. I pulled over to the right but there wasn’t anywhere to park fully. The tail end of my big Expedition was sticking out in the road.

I glanced in the side view mirror. I didn’t see a car. I told him “Okay Rocket, go ahead.”

He opened the door and we immediately heard the slam of buckling metal. Some dude in a Prius was late for a meeting and decided to scream by on our left. He clipped door as it was opening, buckled part of it, and ripped the side-view mirror off his car.

If it were 10 seconds later, he would have hit my son. At his speed, I doubt my boy would have survived.

I wanted to make it this man’s fault. Why wouldn’t you be more careful in a student drop-off zone? Why wouldn’t you watch, go slowly? The fucker didn’t even apologize. The dickwad didn’t even say a word. He said “There’s always so many kids around here!”

Um yeah genius, it’s a school. Kids tend to be near schools.

 

But the fact is I did something profoundly stupid. I was rushed. I was worried what the teacher would think. I don’t want to be that asshole parent who wants the school to work their asses off for her kid but isn’t even able to get her kid to school on time. I was irritated the parking lot was closed. I was not thinking of the safety of my boy first. I was thinking of getting to school on time.

On the way home, it hit me fully what could have happened. I saw in my mind, his little body crushed by a car. I felt myself throw my body out the car to hold him. The horror, agony, guilt. The way I would have replayed that morning in my mind, the moments leading up to it. The perfect shitstorm of circumstances leading to that critical second.

Whether or not he would have lived, he would have been terribly hurt, and it would have been my fault. I knew better.

He basically got out of the car in the street. AND I TOLD HIM TO.

It took my breath. I threw my hand over my mouth as I drove. I felt sick, like I could vomit. My eyes filled with tears. I shook my head, literally, to get the image out of my brain of his body and that metal.

 

I said in my last blog post that I didn’t become some better version of myself, some perfect model of human just because a baby exited my body. This is the single most difficult fact of parenthood for me, and the thing that fucks with me the most. I NEED TO BE A BETTER PERSON BUT I’M NOT, not always.

That goddamn human fallibility. My impatience. My lack of perfect judgment. My assumptions. My irritability.

And his innocence, his eyes looking to me for guidance, the unquestioning gesture of opening the car door because I said so. Just a little kid listening to his mother before school. I had no idea what was about to come. I had no idea what I was sending my son into.

 

I see right now in my mind’s eye his bouncing blond head as it crossed the street and walked to class. His little lunch box. His lack of backpack because he left it at grandma’s house. His tie-dyed t-shirt and tennis shoes.

The truth is I can handle my personality flaws, the things that make me not that great. We don’t need to be that great. But I don’t understand how we’re supposed to make peace with the fact that one error in judgment could result in a tragedy altering the course of so many lives. Well, I guess that’s the way with anybody, with any mistake, but it just seems wrong when it comes to children. It seems wrong that we are placed in the position to protect and care for these tiny beings that trust and love us completely, without question, and yet we aren’t given perfect judgment. We aren’t given 100% reliable insight. We are fucked-up humans who sometimes make decisions based on things that don’t matter, because the stars are aligned, or misaligned, or whatever.

 

It doesn’t seem right that my mind would scatter like that, fall apart like that, when I know the only important thing is my son’s safety. I’m generally the most defensive driver on the planet. I assume most people smoke crack before getting behind the wheel and plot my death as a pastime.

But today I made a mistake.

It isn’t one I’ll make again. But what other mistakes may come?

In 20 minutes I’ll leave to pick him up. I can’t wait to get him with me. I want to tell him “I’m sorry.” But it doesn’t seem worth it. How do you apologize for your humanity? How do you apologize for putting him a person in danger without knowing it? For being a fucking moron? I spent the day half-shaking at my stupidity. I want to fold him up under me again. I want to kiss his head 14,000 times.

 

Tonight is his dad’s 33rd birthday. We’re making him shrimp Louie. Rocket will want to help. He loves to cook. He loves salad, cutting toppings. We’ll cut tomato and avocado and egg.

We’ll make a cake.

I’ll tell him to be careful with the knives. I’ll watch carefully, so carefully, his tiny fingers and arms. His freckles and lips and giant trusting blue eyes. He’ll ask me what to do next. I’ll tell him. I know just what to do. I’ll be his mother one more day.

I’ll be his mother one more day.

And try to be better tomorrow.

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I have become “that mother” on Instagram

by renegademama

I have become “that mother” on Instagram and I hate it as much as you do. Well, almost.

I can’t stop posting pictures of my kids. I realize I’m doing it but I can’t stop. We’re supposed to post interesting things that happen to us. Often the most interesting thing that happens to me is “Hey look at my baby! Isn’t he cute? He’s cute right? Look how cute!”

And I feel better when you agree, because this is what I’ve got right now. This is kind of all I have.

Yeah, I feel a little pathetic, a little lost. I feel a little boring. I wish I had something more interesting to say.

I imagine I’ve been unfollowed by lots and lots of people.

Damn that Janelle can’t stop posting pictures of those fucking kids.

 

The other day I drove around for 3 and a half hours in retrieval of 3 of my 4 children. The timing was just wrong enough that I had 45-minute intervals between each pick-up, meaning I couldn’t really do anything between stops, so I just sat in parking lots and drove around for 3.5 hours. I nursed the baby in the front seat like 4 times.

By the end, I hated every human in my car, on the road, in the town, and possibly on the planet.

I work in Georgia’s co-op preschool so now I know all her little preschool songs. The other day Mac got home from work and we sang one together, for him. It was a song about a fish getting eaten by a bigger fish and then that one getting eaten by a whale and on and on and there are little hand motions.

WHO THE FUCK IS THIS HUMAN SINGING PRESCHOOL SONGS?

Sing along folks. Here we go.

After preschool Georgia has “resting time” and I call it “resting time.” Who the hell talks like that?

And my sister-in-law told me about a ticket system for screen time and we’re trying it. Each kid has a little ticket jar thing made out of YES YOU GUESSED IT, Mason jars.

I HAD THEM DECORATE MASON JARS, people.

Sometimes I look around at this stay-at-home-mom life and I’m so bored and over it and tired I want to scream out my car window “I’m NOT THE MOTHERFUCKING BUTLERRRRR!”

(But I am.)

Other times I spend a good 15 minutes playing with my baby on his changing table. You take his diaper off and it’s like somebody plugged him into a power outlet. His little arms and legs kick up and down and he squeals and looks at me and I bury my nose in his neck and kiss him until I can’t kiss anymore because I’m worried he’s going to pee on my face. I laugh those loud, free cackles from a place more genuine than any place I’ve ever known.

But no matter how many times I drive kids around and wash diapers and kiss baby rolls and say stupid kid shit and nurse and cook and clean, I never feel like this is all I am. I never feel like I don’t want more. I never feel like there isn’t a “me,” hovering just beneath the surface, going through the motions but also holding on to something else.

Once again I realize: Motherhood is my occupation. It is not my definition.

It will never be my definition.

I did not become some “better version” of myself the second a baby exited my vagina. I did not suddenly morph into the G-rated Janelle model, complete with infinite patience and virtuous speech in soothing tones. My faults did not leave with the placenta. My interests did not transform into an age-appropriate Pinterest craft board. My personality did not fade into a Daniel Tiger theme song.

I stayed me. Well, sort of. A part of me went away, straight-up died, actually. And that was hard enough.

The externalities sure have changed, but the rest? Same. This gets confusing sometimes, because I read things like this and it seems some women BECOME this gig completely, as if who they are, or were, fades into spit-up and non-swear words and their kids become all of it and the end of it and I can’t relate. I used to wonder if that’s how I “should” be doing motherhood. Now I realize that’ just her gig. This is mine.

She says she can’t talk to her single friends anymore because she’s no longer dating. If the day ever comes that I can’t talk to people I love about their lives simply because I’m not currently experiencing the exact thing they are, please shoot me, point-blank, and walk away.

If I ever “don’t know how to not talk about my kids,” or “swear like a 2-year-old” (as opposed to a respectable fucking adult) read me some Hemingway and a touch of Bukowski and kick me in the shins, twice, for I will have reached full douchebag status.

They are my job. They are my family. They are the loves of my whole freaking life.

But I’m still, always, separate. They are not my reason for existence.

There’s a line in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale where a girl looks at her mother and says “I am not your justification for existence.”

PRECISELY.

 

I like my music. I like folk and Americana and bluegrass and the Dead. I fucking hate kid music. Every day I get in the car with my coffee to drive 2,000 children to school (well that’s how it feels) and I turn on my music and I often turn it on loud because it makes me feel human, and free for a moment, and it gets me going AND I LIKE IT.

I like hearing live music. We take our kids to festivals even though half the people are high and we drop our kids with people who love them so we can hit bars and clubs and concert halls at night, to dance and dance.

I like to read philosophy and literary theory. I like to read complicated books and ideas about gender studies and queer studies and critical race. I like to talk to scholars about how to teach writing. I don’t get to do this much anymore, but it’s never gone.

I cuss like a motherfucking sailor, but I try not to in front of my kids.  I fail.

I like to smoke cigarettes, but only do it when I camp or smoker friends come over. If I weren’t an alcoholic, I’d like to drink whiskey. I like to talk dirty to my husband. I like what sometimes follows.

I love my friends with kids. I love my friends without kids. I love to talk to them about their lives, without kids. I love that they help me with my life with kids.

I write. I’m a writer. I write in my head as I drive. I write in the shower. I write while doing dishes. Half my ideas flow down the drain with the warm milk from dinner cups. It’s okay, but I wish I had more time.

 

Sometimes my life feels like one giant battle to keep myself alive. Not physically. That’s easy. But mentally, spiritually, psychologically, because so much of the occupation of motherhood not only feels unfulfilling, but in direct opposition to my interests, personality and talents.

It’s kind of hard to write when you’re so tired your eyes are twitching, when you’re insane with irritability.

My days are days of trying to serve my kids, be their mother, help them grow, support the shit out of them, keep a house, govern their education, feed them, bathe them, nurse them and hold them WHILE MAINTAINING A SENSE OF MYSELF.

And I am, right now, 100% a “SAHM.” Stay-at-home-mother.

It’s a job. A hard one. An insane one. A good one.

And yeah, for now I’m that mom on Instagram. The slightly pathetic one on Facebook.

Someday I’ll be something different.

Or maybe not different at all. Surely the externalities will change.

I keep getting torn down, redefined, rebuilt and recrafted into people I’ve never meant to become, never knew existed, maybe don’t even like that much, only to look in the mirror at the end of the day and see the same damn woman staring back at me who’s always been staring back at me.

I tell her hold up, lady. It’s an occupation, not your definition. And you’re doing alright.

I hold my baby on my hip and try to write a few words.

What comes out is this.

And a new photo on Instagram.

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my last photo on Instagram.

 

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59 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | October 10, 2014

Hey new moms, I’ve thought the terrible things too

by renegademama

One of my best friends is having her first baby. She’s a woman who has been fiercely independent her whole life. She has traveled to some ridiculous number of countries. She has a graduate degree from another country. She works for one of the top ten universities in America. She’s easily among the top 3 most hilarious humans I’ve ever known, and the smartest. And in a pinch, my kids may choose her over me. There’s that kind of love between us.

 

She’s expecting her first baby in January.

There are so many things I want to tell her.

There are so many things I want her to know are “okay.” I don’t fucking know what she should “expect.” How would I ever know that? Expect crazy. Expect weird. Expect beauty. Expect misery. But details? Nah those are hers to own. Hers to build.

The other day we were texting and she was expressing the understandable shitstorm of emotions within her – excited, terrified, depressed, in love.

And when I typed my response I felt a surge of sadness, and rage. This is what I wrote: “Even after you hold your babe for the first time it will come in waves. You’ll want your old life back. But not really. It really is a hard transition and nobody recognizes it. So talk to me and tell me all the dark shit in your brain.”

The sadness was that she might feel alone. That people might not talk to her about it. The rage was that she might feel alone. That people might not talk to her about it.

 

Talk to me and tell me all the dark shit in your brain.

I’m so sick of this shit, people, the way we bullshit new moms, the way we sit across from them 2 or 10 or 30 days postpartum, gazing at the perfect baby creature, talking about strollers or outfits or fucking muslin receiving blankets (although damn they are awesome) or whatever other nonsense we come up with to avoid the truth, or the other truth.

The way we small talk.

The way we chatter.

The way we talk about the baby. THE BABY IS FINE. WE CAN ALL SEE THE BABY IS FINE.

The way we give advice. The way we mumble this or that or this and hahahaha and oh how cute and you know what WHO FUCKING CARES?

Look at the woman. Look at her. Look at the woman sitting across from you on that couch. See the human transformed. See the human with a milky chest and belly still half-holding a baby and the tired in her eyes. See the woman who has become a mother and maybe doesn’t even know what that means yet and look as hard as you can into that fear and love and pain and ask her. Tell her. Open it all to her. And if you haven’t experienced it, listen. Ask. Hold and love.

Maybe she’s not having these thoughts, and that’s cool. But if she is, SHE NEEDS YOU TO LET HER KNOW you’ve thought it too, and it’s okay, and welcome to the motherfucking club.

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from my journal, October 23, 2002

Talk to me, friend, and tell me all the dark shit in your brain.

I’ve been there.

I’ve fucking been there.

I’ve regretted having children.

I’ve thought they would go away. I’ve tried to run.

I’ve thought “I hate motherhood.”

I hate myself.

I hate this life.

I’ve ruined my life.

It will never be the same.

I’ll never get it back.

I’ve fantasized about leaving, running, forever.

Once, when my first baby was a year or so old, my brother (Ross) was just getting into medical school. I saw him there in his lab coat, just a photo online, and my body literally shook. The pain came from the earth, it seemed, up through my feet into my legs and up my whole body. I wept. I held my baby and wept. He was beginning the rest of his life. He was doing something going somewhere. I was 22 and paralyzed. I was going to be more. I was going to go somewhere, too. But all I did was nurse and drive and squash food and try to get some time to myself.

I scratched writing on paper and across my journal.

When I could find neither I would write on napkins.

But there was never any time to myself. I used to be me. WHO AM I NOW?

When I told my husband he didn’t understand. He looked at me helplessly and went back to work. On the weekends we drank. I tried to hard to “adjust,” to “get through it.”

But I couldn’t tell anybody how I felt because who thinks these things?

photo(5)

“child my child my joy my beautiful child I can’t go” – July 12, 2002

This baby, so perfect and smart and lovely.

And I made the choice to have her, and I love her. HOW COULD I EVER EXPLAIN THIS FEELING?

So it sat in me, like a dark mess of guilt and rage, but not even, because I couldn’t define it that well, because with it stood a love and longing and adoration for that child and motherhood. I watched her breathe to make sure she’s alive. I stared endlessly at her petal lips and eyes and cheeks and her breath to me is my breath. I want to consume her stay with her I love her so. When I’m away from her my guts feel exposed. My life fractured.

 

But the darkness, I guess. It could not get out. It was mine. Mine alone.

I was sure I was the only one thinking these thoughts. I had to be. Everywhere I looked I saw bliss and ruffles and yoga pants and pony tails.

photo(4)

God please help me. March 28, 2002

But now, oh now I know I was not the only one. There were hundreds of thousands of women before me and near me at that very exact moment feeling the exact same thing but what fucking good does that do me when nobody utters a word?

Nobody.

Friends come over and we talk about baby clothes. About what they’ve been up to. About how sweet it is to see Mac as a dad.

Friends come over and we talk about birth and sleep and “what my plans are” for the future.

Mothers grandmothers aunts sisters friends. We talk and talk and talk.

But we don’t talk about the darkness.

That’s mine.

They leave and I wonder again what’s wrong with me. They leave and I feel worse than before. They leave and I sink into the utter desperation, once again, left alone with my dirty secret.

Confirmed:

I

Am

The

Only

One in the history of the fucking world

To

Think

These

Dark and

Terrible

Things.

 

I’m done with it, people. I’m done with the bullshit.

I am asking you RIGHT NOW to talk about the darkness.

Talk about the moment you nearly couldn’t do it. Talk about the second you curled onto your bed and had the worst thought you’ve ever had pass the center of your mind.

Talk about the thing you hid.

Talk to the woman.

Talk to the human.

Talk to my friend.

Goddamnit, talk to me.

 

With cracked voice and broken smile, I would have talked to you. I would have told you the dark, and then we could have shared it. And maybe I would have known the light is right around the fucking corner.

And my friend, it is.

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238 Comments | Posted in over-sharing is my talent | September 27, 2014