Posts Filed Under over-sharing is my talent

Invisible labor and the “small space” that’s ours.

by renegademama

Alright, I’ll admit it. I am having a rough time. Here’s what’s up: When I left California, I left the support network I’d built over 18 years to help me raise four kids and work as a writer. And now I’m without that network, starting over, and the domestic load is fucking killing me.

I used to have close friends within walking distance, my mom, and Mac’s mom. I used to have an office out of my house. I used to know how everything worked in my world, so I could get it done fast or easily send somebody else to do it. Now, I’m feeling quite alone with all this.

The details of my situation here are irrelevant. I could go through my day and the particulars of our marriage and house and schedules but it doesn’t matter. It’s not a fucking competition, and the more details we share, the more we’re held up for uninformed scrutiny from the masses. As soon as you say “This is hard,” half the world looks down on your sorry self and instructs how you could manage better, how they’ve learned what you haven’t, how if you’d just try harder you wouldn’t be having such a hard time. There’s so much you want to explain, so much nobody sees.

And I’m sure from the outside a person looks at me and thinks, “You live in the Netherlands surrounded by cobblestone and affordable healthcare. Shut the hell up, ya ungrateful shitbag.”

And that is true. Occasionally even the shitbag part.

But some things don’t change no matter where you live. In fact, for me, in this particular arena, life is quite a bit harder here.

The most difficult part of talking about the unequal division of domestic labor is that there’s no way to do it without making your husband sound like an asshole. There’s no way to talk about the bulk of the invisible labor on your shoulders without implicating the person you’ve partnered with, are happy with, and love, a lot.

So, we keep silent. But this isn’t about an individual man and it isn’t about my particular marriage or the idiosyncrasies therein. It is an oversimplification to say, “Your husband should do more.” It is a minimization to say, “Some men are better than yours.” This mentality is not understanding how deep this problem lives within him and within me.

We are products of the world that raised us.

For example, when I said “I do” at age 22, I didn’t come up with the idea that I would assume responsibility for damn near everything from start to finish. I didn’t go into marriage telling myself “You know what? THIS IS ALL MY JOB AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE.” I just knew it was. I didn’t even question it until I’d been married a decade and saw that my career, a career I cared about all the way to my bones, would be eradicated and impossible unless we, as a couple, changed.

If it involves the kids, finances, health, school, the house, overall social and familial relations, I tend to assume I own it. As in, it is mine. Sure, I can delegate it, but I will then manage the delegation. I will make sure it gets done. I will follow up, because it’s still mine, it’s just parsed out to somebody else temporarily. Ultimately, I feel it is on my shoulders to complete. And in fact, it is.

Who the fuck decided that?

In other words, the invisible labor of thinking, remembering, asking, tracking – the mental space required for all that – is still consumed in my brain. All the space in there feels taken up, largely by shit I never asked for and probably don’t care about.

It isn’t that I particularly enjoy or am uniquely interested in household organization and cleaning out drawers and getting new lightbulbs and making dentist appointments and planning playdates, it’s just that somewhere along the line, this became “women’s work” in addition to our regular work and I, for one, pretty much just do it. Or did it, unquestioningly. Some women find this stuff interesting, and that’s wonderful. I do not.

Here in this new country, I’ve started at zero again, and my whole brain is taken up.

Do you know what writing takes? WIDE OPEN FUCKING MENTAL FUCKING SPACE.

 

Motherhood is always more immediate. It’s always right here right now. And Mac’s work is outside the house. He has people who he’s building things for. Of course he needs to leave and do that work. But it feels sometimes a touch unreasonable that I, too, have work, hard work of a different kind, plus the burden of damn near all household management.

This arrangement feels a bit shitty for women and a bit awesome for men.

I was thinking recently about something I did a few years ago that felt like a radical act. I was trying to write my book and it wasn’t happening. I quickly realized “write book” was simply added to my to-do list, as if I could just carry on doing all the things I did before plus write an 80k word manuscript that didn’t suck.

After a small breakdown one Easter, I began leaving on occasional weekends to write for 18 hours. I knew something had to give. I just said FUCK IT and left my life, the mess, the kids, all of it. I booked myself into a motel room and worked. I got my whole book done that way. During the week, I’d barely write.

Now, my whole life looks like those barren weeks, and I don’t have the money to run off and write. I am erased again, it seems. How quickly we get eaten up if we aren’t paying attention.

Anyway, around that time, when I was fed up, I began asking every one of my kids’ teachers to add my husband’s email to their lists and always email both of us. This was a tiny, obvious step in making sure he had access to the same information I did. Despite my requests, many of the teachers still didn’t email him when problems arose.

So, I simply replied with a copy to Mac and a message that said: “My husband is handling this.” Sometimes I just emailed back “Please tell my husband.” Or I would forward it to Mac with the words: “Yours.”

It’s interesting that our default is to email only the mother. It’s interesting that even when I asked, people forgot to include him. It’s interesting that I didn’t fight this default setting for a full seventeen years of motherhood. It is all very fucking interesting.

 

Do you ever wonder how many things are simply assumed to be the woman’s job? Do you ever wonder how much more we could do if our brains weren’t consumed by so much monotonous drivel of daily life? By activities so opposite creativity and possibly individuality? By things that take and take and take and take and do you ever wonder why Sylvia Plath put her head in that oven?

Yes, depression. But could it also have been that she couldn’t bear a life of erasure? That her art, her writing, her purpose, was impossible in the context of her life and she couldn’t go on? A room of one’s own, indeed.

I don’t have answers. The truth is I move from resignation to gratitude to rage and back again. I look for words in stolen moments. I give up again. I ask somebody and nobody, “When the fuck did all of this become my job?”

I read the women who’ve gone before me, like Toni Morrison:

“I have an ideal writing routine that I’ve never experienced, which is to have, say, nine uninterrupted days when I wouldn’t have to leave the house or take phone calls. And to have the space—a space where I have huge tables. I end up with this much space [she indicates a small square spot on her desk] everywhere I am, and I can’t beat my way out of it. I am reminded of that tiny desk that Emily Dickinson wrote on and I chuckle when I think, Sweet thing, there she was. But that is all any of us have: just this small space…”

Sweet thing, there she was.

There we were.

How do you look at something and see your whole beloved life and the threat of erasure at the same time?

 

****

Speaking of carving out spaces for ourselves, there are five spots left in my Memoir writing workshop in April. We need your story.

Oh, and here’s my book. If you’ve read it, would you consider reviewing it on Goodreads or Amazon? And if you haven’t, maybe consider doing so if you like my work. I’m still over here talking about it because this book’s sales help me get the opportunity to write another.

I HATE MARKETING SO MUCH BUT I SURE LOVE YOU.

 

2.23K Shares

Hey kids, we gotta talk about 2015.

by renegademama

I saw it again. That quote. That meme. The one that says: “The way you talk to your kids becomes their inner voice.”

Can we talk about that for a moment, kids? Because if it’s true, that my voice will become the one whispering sweet nothings from the recesses of your adult mind, we should probably pretend 2015 never happened. Can we do that?

Perhaps we can just let this one go. You know, in the broad scheme? Of the 18 years you hang with me (at a minimum), let’s just call 2015 a bust and move on.

 

There are four of you. I am the mother to four of you. That’s four brains at my mercy. I do okay with that most of the time. And I started 2015 out okay, too. Your dad got hurt at work, then some stuff went down that damn near ruined me (which I can’t talk about on the internet), and then, well, your dad was called to work 2.5 – 3 hours away. For 10 months. And my life was turned upside down, against my will, with no solution in sight. I guess it was just too much.

Sometimes I handle glitches in my fucking life plan with dignity and grace. Other times I act like a crack addict who misplaced her last baggie.

Never do crack.

Seriously though, kids, usually I can muster the perspective, patience, and strength to roll with life’s bullshit, and I kind of just keep on going, as we do, after kicking and screaming for a few minutes. And then I accept it and move on, because I can’t live with resentments. I can’t live with the inner turmoil caused by WHY ISN’T LIFE GOING MY WAY GODDAMNIT? It will never go your way, Janelle. Not always. So just stop. Throw in the towel. Enjoy the fucking ride.

But this year, I couldn’t. I just could not “get okay” with my husband pulled away from me for 10 fucking months. Every morning, every afternoon, every evening: I was alone with you guys. But I work. I WORK TOO. But I couldn’t do my work. I had to work but couldn’t work because I had virtually no help. How do you live like that? When you have to do but can’t do day after day? The part that really messed with me was that there was nothing I could do about it.

I felt trapped. Cornered. I literally, in a very real and tangible way, could not meet the requirements of my life. I was failing everything and everyone, drowning in mediocrity. I can’t be expected to have a career but live at the mercy of somebody else’s career. IT CAN’T BE BOTH. I CAN’T DO EVERYTHING. I simmered in rage and self-pity, and fought to the death my own powerlessness.

There was nothing I could do, so why was I fighting? Because I fucking hated it. Because I didn’t want it. Because I was outraged. Because I missed my husband. Because I’m immature and ill-equipped for life. Who knows why. It’s just what happened.

And the more I fought, the more I kicked and screamed, the more it didn’t work, more exhausted I grew, and the more depressed. And anxious. It was a slow build to disaster.

My ability to sleep vanished. I was nearly out of my mind with exhaustion. I remember the day I called my best friends and my mom and said “I think I’m depressed.” Their response was something along the lines of “No shit, Einstein.”

But you four. You were just there, looking at your mama. You were just there, in the car, as I drove you around, or made dinner, helped you brush your teeth. You were just there, in our home, waking up and making lunches and doing your chores. You were just living, little kids, doing your kid life, looking to me to do the mom life, while I fell apart under the love of your gaze.

 

They say my voice will become the one in your head.

Will it be the one that screamed “What the hell is wrong with you?” one morning, on day three of 4 hours of sleep, when I simply lost it?

Will it be the literal grunt I gave you in response to you telling me something about your day? It was 3pm. We were driving home again. I knew all the evening is on me. I had 60 papers to grade. We had nothing for dinner. I guess I’ll take 4 kids to the grocery store. I’m so tired. I’m like a zombie. My body weighs a thousand pounds, my thoughts a million. My eyes are blurring on the road.

Hey mom. Hey mom. Hey mom. Let me tell you about this thing. Can you believe that? Hey mom.

“Mmm.” I don’t even pretend to care. I can’t. I don’t even pretend to listen. Your voice is barely audible beneath the roar of my separation.

Will it be my voice demanding “Come take this baby!” so I can make dinner without him getting burned as he clings to my legs and screams?

Or maybe it will be the 700 “I just can’t talk to you about this now.”

Please give me a moment.

Please stop talking for a second. I can’t do this anymore. I fucking can’t do it. I yell it on the phone. I scream it. I hang up. I throw a picture frame.

My grandmother got depressed once, after she had her 5th child. One day, she lay on the couch and didn’t get up again, for a long time. It was maybe 1952. A friend brought her a paint-by-number art set. She did paint by number, one tiny shape at a time, one tiny minute at a time, for days, until her mind pieced itself back together, and her legs worked again.

“What are you going to do, Janelle?” My mom asked.

“Janelle, DO ONE THING TODAY.” My friend said.

I cleaned the linen closet in the hall. I did that. I did that one thing that day. The next day, I got vitamins and herbs and told myself I had 30 days to feel better and then it was off to the doctor for medications. The day after that I got a therapist. A couple of days after that, I realized I heard you tell me about the kid who took your math book , and I cared a little.

Slowly, I got off the couch.

 

They say my voice will become the one in your brain. I said a hundred things this year I’d like to erase. My silence perhaps more awful than my words. Does silence echo too? I imagine it does.

But what about when we sat on your bed and I said “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. You don’t deserve that. I’m having trouble managing my anger.” And we hugged, hard, again. For everything. Or the hundred times I showed up anyway, broken and distant, but by your side with the tenacity of a fucking bulldog, because you’re mine and I’m yours? Does that silence count? Will it hold you too in 20 years? I put on your favorite songs. I watched you sing with blurred eyes. I loved you with perfect clarity.

Do you hear that, too? All the moments I kissed you and said “I’m really tired. I’m having a hard time. But I’m trying to get better.”

I didn’t want to make this your problem. I didn’t want to put this on your shoulders, but I owed you an explanation. This isn’t your fault. I’m working through something. I will get better. We’re a family. We’re broken. We hold tight and get remade. THAT’S WHAT WE DO.

I’m painting, kid, one tiny shape at a time, and pretty soon it will be done, and I’ll be me again, and my voice will stop cracking mid-sentence, in defeat, or rage.

I don’t always love that I’ll be the voice in your head. I’m not sure I even fully believe that. I hear my mom’s voice. I also hear my dad’s (P.S. WHY DON’T WE DO THIS GUILT SHIT TO DADS?), and a few asshole teachers, and a couple good ones, but mostly, I feel what it felt to be in my mom’s arms, to live in her home, to smell her hair and skin and know this is home, even fucked up, loud, sad and weird. I knew she’d always come. I’m lucky to have that. It’s all I ever really needed to know, in the end.

I hope you know that too, that though my voice was shit in 2015, my arms have remained the same. And they’re yours.

Let’s go.

Love,

Mama

E4BF8E1A-064B-4B8A-B0D2-B4F2A8FEC8B6

 

******

Hey, I don’t want to be all alarmist and shit, but these are probably the last sessions I’ll be offering of the live Write Anyway writing workshop.

Get on it, friends. I’d love to write with you.

bastards1

Breaking: Crazy human somehow loses weight, shares secret

by renegademama

You know I don’t give advice, but there’s this one area of life I have so mastered so fully (SARCASM MOTHERFUCKERS) I feel it would be a disservice to humanity to not share.

And that area is: LOSING WEIGHT.

Look, I don’t want to discuss feminism or women’s bodies or getting comfortable with my fatness or whatever the fuck else we all sit around discussing. I KNOW there are fat yogis balancing on their heads, powerful as hell. I KNOW there are women super okay with the rolls of their belly but I also know that those women are not me.

I am neither a fat yogi nor a woman comfortable with her belly.

I feel like shit. My back hurts. I look at myself naked and sorta want to puke. I KNOW I HAVE INTERNALIZED BODY SHAMING NARRATIVES OF SELF HATRED.

I’m not proud. I’m merely stating the facts: I am overfuckingweight and I don’t like it. I’m overweight because I eat too much and believe in the futility of eating one’s feelings yet do it anyway because THAT’S FUN.

Also, I don’t exercise enough.

 

I wasn’t always overweight. While they were trying to find what was wrong with me (during my active alcoholism), they gave me a bunch of psychiatric diagnoses and put me on 7 to 11 different psychotropic drugs at the same time. I gained 70 pounds in 3 months.

Um…..

And I’ve never quite been able to regain control. But I can’t blame that completely. Sure, that’s how it started, but once it happened I began the spiral into Fuck It All I’m Already Fat and started eating with wild abandon.

I’m not particularly unhealthy. My blood pressure is low. My blood sugar normal.

But I feel like shit.

This is just me. This is not a statement on all fat women in the world, or America. Or even my town. Or even one single other person.

I’m sure if I were a better, more enlightened human, I would

A. get okay with my body as it is; or,

B. do something about it.

I’m working on B.

 

But I kinda suck at it.

Once, a few years ago, when I was about this weight, I got super pissed off and done with not changing and I lost 40 pounds over a year or so and felt amazing.

Then I got pregnant again and gained it all back that was nearly 2 years ago the end.

Nice story, right?

I hate that story. That story can lick donkey balls.

Sorry. I should be more feminine.

I should stop apologizing.

I AM A FAT APOLOGIZING WOMAN FULL OF ANTI-FEMINIST GUILT AND BAD LANGUAGE.

 

Okay here’s the deal: I’m trying to lose weight to feel stronger and more able-bodied and in less pain AND to feel more comfortable in my body and clothes.

Here’s how it’s going:

4am: Wake up but against my will. Nurse tiny creature next to me and beg him (in silence of course) to go back to fucking sleep

5am: Breathe a sigh of relief that tiny human fell back asleep, roll over to do the same

5:15am: Wonder why I’m not asleep yet

5:30am: Wonder why I’m not asleep yet

5:45am: Meditate with the vigor of a thousand warriors because JESUS FUCK I NEED SLEEP

6am: Fall asleep

6:30am: Hear alarm go off, want to die

6:36: Get out of bed after looking at phone for 6 minutes even though I know that’s a super bad way to start the day

6:40: Do 7-minute workout thing (dude it’s an app and it rocks and I’ve actually been doing it!)

7am: Eat a healthy breakfast because today is going to be a good clean eating day!

7-10am: Drink 47,000 gallons of coffee but without sugar

10:30am: Healthy snack

1pm: healthy lunch

3pm: Drive around 12 small nations to pick up kids

3:15pm: Realize I’m fucking starving

4pm: Realize I’m dizzy from healthy snack deficiency

4:30pm: Get home. Open fridge. Eat something healthy but wish there was something more filling and also healthy

5pm: Start making dinner

6:30pm: GIVE UP BECAUSE IF FOOD DOESN’T GET IN MY MOTHERFUCKING BELLY RIGHT NOW I MAY DIE OR KILL YOU AND I’M SO TIRED AND I CAN’T EAT A DAMN GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST AND SALAD AGAIN BECAUSE BORING AND FOOD IS COMFORT (NO IT ISN’T) BUT IT KIND OF SEEMS LIKE IT IS SO…

6:45pm: EAT IT ALL,REGRET IT

7pm: Realize I basically negated all my day’s efforts because it’s the night calories that REALLY matter and ohmygodJanelle you suck and you’ll always be fat and nobody likes you.

8pm: Get upset with myself for fat shaming body shaming self bashing and blatant lack of self love.

10pm: Resolve to do better tomorrow.

11pm: Go the fuck to sleep

 

Then, DUDE CHECK THIS SHIT OUT: I do slightly better tomorrow.

That is actually happening and it’s real. I’ve been making tiny changes and little nudges here and there and I’ve lost 10 pounds over the past 6 weeks. What?

Every day, I’m trying to be a little healthier than the last, and if I eat everything in a 5 mile radius during one meal, I try to get back on track for the next without mentally assaulting myself until I’m lying lifeless on a cold stone floor.

And I see now that a big part of this is realizing that I deserve health and attention and wellness and compassion (lord I sound like a fucking life coach), and tiny changes ultimately result in a new place entirely.

And that feels damn good.

So yeah, success. Or something. Fucking rock it.

Slightly more than yesterday.

 

Do you ever wish you could see yourself the way your kids do?

Do you ever wish you could see yourself the way your kids do?

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.

IMG_3828

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.

photo(3)

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.

IMG_2719

 

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