What happened last weekend felt hopeless and dark. But this weekend says it wasn’t.
Last Sunday morning, I sat down in the middle of worship, head in my hands, overwhelmed. My husband sat down next to me and put his arm around me.
What’s wrong? Are you okay?
I’m just tired. I’m so tired.
Are you sure that’s all? I feel like you’re not telling me something.
No. I’m just exhausted. I’m so ready for Hattie to grow out of this stage. I’m just so tired of her.
As soon as the last sentence escaped my lips, the guilt bubbled up inside me, then the shame, then the inadequacy. What kind of mom am I? I’m tired of my own child. And of all places, I knew God definitely heard me talking about his child, and now he probably thinks I’m ungrateful for this gift, the gift some achingly long for for years upon years. A new layer of guilt.
Lord, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I feel this way.
I have read all the hundreds of articles and heard the heartfelt sentiments and shallow platitudes over and over. This won’t last forever. You better soak it all up now because they’ll be grown before you know it.
I know what they mean, what they’re trying to say. I know they’re probably right. And maybe I will miss this stage.
But yesterday I cried when I heard Hattie at 5:30 AM ready for the day. I cried every time I tried to put her down for a nap because she would. not. stop. fighting it. I cried thirty minutes later when I heard her wails echoing from her room. THIRTY minutes? You wake up at 5:30 AGAIN and you can’t muster up a nap longer than THIRTY FREAKING MINUTES? I cried when Charlee collapsed on the floor for the eighteenth time that day, this one in particular because I wouldn’t give her a third bag of fruit snacks. Then, Hattie’s screams filled my ears as I set her down to go take care of her sister. I cried while I was cooking dinner and got a glimpse of the state of the house. And the state of my outfit. And the state of my hair. Then I cried myself to sleep because I felt so guilty for having cried so much.
Can I tell you how I feel right now about soaking up This Time? I feel like cussing This Time out and kicking it in the balls. I feel like locking This Time out of the house and laying down and taking a nap. I feel like telling This Time to go to grandma’s for a couple of months until it gets a little bit bigger.
This Time has me by the neck with all four of its tiny hands and is slowly suffocating me. It has brought me to my knees. I am gasping for air.
I know I can do it; it’s not a matter of knowing whether I am capable of being a semi-functioning parent day in and day out. I can suck it up and do it. But what if I am not enjoying every second of it? What if I wish for these months to pass quickly? What if I feel like a failure because my baby has cried for five months straight and I can’t figure out how to fix it? What if I am so damn ready to be out of the baby stage?
What if I’m not soaking it up?
Does that make me a bad mom?
Please stop telling me This Time goes by so quickly. Because these have been the longest five months of my life. I’m fine. I really am. Just allow me the space to catch my breath.
And in the meantime, maybe on my knees is where I was supposed to be this whole time. Maybe I should just stay here.
A couple of months ago, I blogged about going from one to two in a matter of 17 months. Essentially, I said this stuff ain’t so bad. I almost said it was easy. Since that post, I’ve documented a couple of humorous anecdotes about my two little angel-babies and the hilarity that is my life.
Hear me: I lied. Those first three months of sweet coos and peaceful nights tragically ended two months ago. And those funny stories? I’m at that “laughing about this is a better alternative to setting the house aflame and running down the street naked” stage (AKA losing my freaking mind). As of October, those good days turned into tolerable days, and those tolerable days have been few and far between. This shit is hard. Yes, I said shit. But that’s where I’m at right now. Plus, I’ve heard my dad say it before and he’s an elder at church and I’m pretty sure he’s got Sainthood status in Heaven. And I might use it again at some point in the next few minutes. Consider yourself warned.
I’d like to think of myself as a fairly emotionally balanced human being. I function normally on most days. I was raised in a healthy family, my mother a kindergarten teacher. I babysat all my life. I worked as a camp counselor and a children’s ministry intern all through college. I taught school for two years. I had 6 nieces and nephews before my first. And I genuinely like kids. If that resume doesn’t scream “motherhood-approved” I don’t know what does. I was groomed for this.
I don’t say that to tout my mom-skills but to persuade you that nobody is exempt from those dark feelings of motherhood. You know what I’m talking about. Those scary thoughts that creep into your mind at 4 o’clock in the morning when your baby has been screaming for 3 hours straight while you lie on the floor weeping beside her with the knowledge that in just a few hours another child will be waking up in need of an emotionally stable caretaker to feed her breakfast and change her diaper and smile and kiss her. I’ve had those. I’ve had them when both children are screaming into either ear for no obvious or curable reason. I’ve had them in the car, as Hattie wails for 20 minutes straight before Charlee chimes in because I forgot to bring her wa-wa, my hands literally shaking on the steering wheel as I glance down and realize I’m driving 82.
My heart aches for the Air Force mom that sits in prison for the death of her little girl. I think, “How? How could any mom EVER?” But then I wonder what it would be like to be alone, husband thousands of miles away, raising two little girls very close in age. How does one get to that dark of a place? I would imagine countless days and nights of crying and screaming and whining and aloneness and anger and resentment. Nothing could ever excuse what she did. But I’ve seen glimpses of that kind of crazy. And I’m thankful for the support system I have that she clearly didn’t.
Can we be honest with each other? Can we admit that this isn’t just hard, that some days it’s completely emotionally debilitating? Some nights I pull the covers over my head when the cries come blaring through the monitor. Some nights I put a blanket down on the floor, tired of wrestling Hattie’s writhing body in my arms, and lie next to her. And we both just lie there, crying. Some days I lie in the playroom, coffee in hand, watching my eldest maneuver toys around my comatose body. Some days I am stripped of patience for anyone, including my poor husband, whom, I expect feels like he’s walking into a minefield when he walks through the back door. Parenting is hard when there’s two of you. But thank God there’s two of you.
I just need you to know, that though I write about Hattie and Charlee having bad days as though I laughed my way through it, I most certainly did not. Some days I’m surprised that my wits lasted as long as they did. And some days my wit’s end arrives sooner than expected. This mom business is not for the faint of heart.
But, oh, the reward. My life was made more complete by my daughters. I love them with a greater capacity than I ever thought possible. I am thankful for them daily and I love them like crazy. Literally. Like crazy.
Maybe we should talk about the crazy that we feel. And maybe, then, we’ll realize that we’re not so crazy at all. That we’re normal.