It has been 5 months since I’ve written a blog post. This is the longest lag time between blog posts for me, and I’m just sick about it. I, who carries pen and paper everywhere, worried that her literay opus might come to her at any moment and that it might go unwritten due to a lack of writing supplies. I, who’s proclaimed writing her purpose and passion. I, who believes in persistent and perseverance. I have failed to blog since December 2015. As the mom to a toddler, it’s hard to find time to think, let alone write these days. I am a mom and I find I have no time to be anything else but that. Which brings me to Mother’s Day.
In 2 days, my beautiful daughter will be 2 years old. Before that, I’ll be celebrating my 3rd Mother’s Day, since my baby was born on the Friday of Mother’s Day weekend in 2014. Mother’s Day is a “thing” with me. It’s usually a “thing” with infertile women. While struggling and suffering, many of us find this day intolerably sad and difficult to endure. It’s a big, fat, lavish reminder of a defect. Everyone around us can’t stop having kids, and we can’t stop not having them to save our lives. It’s the most natural thing, the thing we’re supposed to be biologically wired to do as women. And yet…. And, when you’re pumping yourself full of hormones, going through procedures and suffering through loss after loss, getting negative pregnancy results month after month and year after year, this day can feel like a giant middle finger coming to visit you in your misery and poking you in the eye when you’re most vulnerable. Mother’s Day is painful when you’re infertile and in doubt as to whether you’ll ever not be an infertile childless person. It’s a messy, painful thing. And let’s be honest, for many women, it’ll remain so forever because they’ll never become mothers.
If motherhood does finally come, though, a new world opens up with its own triumphs, beauties, pitfalls and messes. Pretty much, life will always be messy and hard and even sad, in totally different and mind bending ways.
And that’s where I am.
This is not a bitch manifesto. I repeat, I didn’t use my limited alone time to write a piece that complains about being a mom. This is my honest expression of a mom’s life and an ode to all mothers out there who live, love, struggle, feel imperfect, worry, lose sleep, and might be having a hard time, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.
Infertility is a bitch. Plain and simple. But, being a mother can sometimes be a bitch, too. I know. I’m not supposed to say that. But, I never do what I’m supposed to. And while the women on either side of the great biological divide might not understand each other and might even judge one another, the fact remains that both sides struggle, feel sad, lose hope, lose sleep, and need support. This is a piece about one person who has lived on both sides and still feels like she’s straddling the divide pretty damn hard.
I am a hybrid stay-at-home-mom. Hybrid, because I still do some work periodically. But for all practical purposes, I’m at home raising my kid. I know I’m lucky. I know many don’t get to do this. I know more don’t want to give up their careers, even if they could. For me, this is the right option. I wouldn’t exchange any of this time I have with my daughter for anything in the world. Well, actually I would—exchange some of it, that is. I would exchange some of it for some personal time and solitude. I really would without guilt or hesitation. I know. I’m not supposed to say that, either. Oh, well. I’m on a roll, so might as well.
Hear me out before you judge.
I believe in what I’m doing. I really do. I believe that being home to raise my daughter and to help shape her life on a consistent basis is what’s best for her. It’s not a judgment of anyone else. I have no opinions about anyone else or their life situations and choices at all. For us, this is the right way. Being at home with this bubbly, funny and joyful ball of energy is great. It is richly rewarding, life affirming, joy inducing, and all consuming. All great, amazing and beautiful. It is the thing I dreamed of for seven long and painful years. And I never thought I’d ever feel anything but pure happiness once this dream came true.
Being all alone with an active toddler for 12 to 14 hours a day, without any help or break, day after day and week after week is hard as hell. Living without adult conversation and interaction, being unable to find time to read, journal, go to the doctor or shave my legs are all hard as hell. Feeling isolated and detached from the rest of the world is hard as hell. Struggling to keep up with what’s going on in the world, something I care about very much, while listening to Wheels on the Bus 20, 30, 40 times a day is hard as hell. Feeling like I am disappearing before my very eyes is hard as hell. And fearing that I’m not doing enough to stimulate my child’s little mind and feed her little soul is especially hard as hell.
Everyday, I struggle with self-doubt. I worry that I’m not “doing it right”. I worry that going to the park twice a day, taking her to lots of play dates and on fun outings and attending weekly toddler and me classes might not be enough. I worry about my knee that feels like it’s going to buckle as I ignore the pain, push through and chase my baby around the park. I worry that the exhaustion and the dissatisfaction I feel would knock me down, making it impossible to be the best mom for this tiny little girl who finally came and took me from being an infertile to a mother. And finally, I wonder how I managed to shrink my entire world down to breastfeeding and nap schedules, exploring new playgrounds and learning nursery rhyme lyrics. Is this what I wanted when I imagined raising my daughter? Is this what I wanted for me? Is this all I’m about now? Forever?
I love being a mom. I want so much to be a great mom and to raise a happy, healthy and well-adjusted child. My days are filled with joy, laughter, wonder and magic because of my daughter. But parts of me, those that make me the adult I have become and the human I was for 45 years before becoming another’s mother, is being starved. And I fear I’ll never get them back. And, I am not okay with that, not even as a mother. I hadn’t count on that. How could I have? I had no idea what being a mom is like.
I am impossibly tired, mentally, emotionally and physically. I am so tired that I can barely talk after my daughter goes to bed. I turn into a non-verbal, grunting grouch who can barely muster watching an hour of TV before falling asleep in a heap of drool. And, everything I believe is needed for a full and rich grown-up life has been shelved at this time: learning, seeking, pleasure, self-enrichment, adult conversation, growth and on and on. The stuff I fortified my life with in order to strengthen myself enough to carry on through almost a decade of loss has been taken away from me. And, while I used to believe that being a mother will take all my other needs and doubts away, I’ve discovered that I was totally wrong. I still need trips to the museum, and coffee dates with my girlfriends. I still need date nights and Sunday morning laziness. I still crave reading books and companionship of other adults. I still need sleep, showers and downtime. I still want to do and learn new things. I still want to sit peacefully and write. I still want to drink some nicely chilled champagne out of a brautiful crystal glass. I want to be a full and complex human being, experience new experiences and be a good and dedicated mom.
Call me greedy. Call me whiny. Call me spoiled. Call me needy. Call me whenever you want. Because I know I’m not any of these labels. I’m just a mom and these feelings and fears are normal and natural. My needs aren’t too much or unrealistic. My standards aren’t too unreasonably high. I just want to remain me while I mother this beautiful darling little dream.
So, to all who are sad this Mother’s Day because they haven’t made their way to their children, I send all my love and admiration. You are amazing beings, full of hope and limitless love and you deserve to see your dream come true. And to all the moms who are tired, in pain and or in doubt, to all who give and give and give, to all who have children to love and raise, I say happy Mother’s Day. You are pillars of strength and patience personafied and you deserve to be heard, to be supported and to be appreciated. Own your feelings, whichever side of the divide you happen to find yourselves. Express them when you feel you need to. Ask for support and seek help when you need to. You’re only human and you can only shoulder so much all alone. It’s okay to feel your feelings. It’s really okay. To all of you, I wish a Happy Mother’s Day. And to my dream girl, I wish a happy and joyful birthday.