Let me begin by saying it was easily one of my top ten…. And unlike many unlucky women I’ve talked to, it doesn’t take much at all for me. So when I say top ten, well, that’s saying something. Hence the predicament I now find myself in. This is what comes of an insatiable appetite and an indefatigable lover and reliance on past body patterns and that no, it would never happen the one time; it never has before.
And so I am here, in a world of my own making, and yet a far cry from graceful resignation or acceptance. Not yet. I’m too busy being angry and terrified.
The anger is easier to manage because I can find the direct source every time I look in the mirror. And that’s the thing: I’m not seeking the world’s sympathy; I’m not hunting down a scapegoat. I am sleeping in the proverbial bed of my own making, I admit that completely. It’s still not a comfortable bed to be sleeping in. But at least the anger I can channel. I can keep it directed at the person responsible and not allow myself to lash out at hubby and children for this blessing I’ve brought upon myself.
The fear—this all-encompassing, overpowering, daily-paralyzing fear—that has come along as a permanent part of the deal…well, that gets trickier. I sit and begin to really, really think about what this means, and perhaps I am weak, but all scenarios terrify: There is Coren, who’ll be six months older, but let’s face it, will still be the same child, maddening in all the ways he’s been maddening since 18 months. He is mellowing, but slowly; and he will not be there (wherever the elusive “there” is) by January. Risa, who thankfully and gloriously just potty-trained in the easiest possible scenario ever. So there’s that. But she’s coming into three, which is a long way from independence and maturity, obviously. And then Haakon. Haakon, who will be 18 months. Who will be in diapers. Who will still be dependent. Who is a mama’s boy and does not do well with other babies in Mom’s lap. Who will still be a baby himself. All five years and under. Oh, and none of them in school. Did I mention that? Coren’s a late bloomer, so he’ll be home—all day—with all the rest of the gang.
And then I imagine other scenarios, real ones from my past. Recent ones, like how three almost threw me, and I had to call my sister and have her talk me out of leaving the kids. Truly, honestly, talk me out of leaving my children. Not the fantasy kind of thought; a real one, with five days of planning behind it. And a mom, who had her four kids five years and under, who climbed in bed and didn’t climb out for a few months. And when her husband tried every form of pep talk he could think of, she answered him deadpan, “I understand. I just don’t care.” My mom! The angel mother of the world! So here I am in the liminal space between human-and-demon-kind-of-mother, and I don’t stand a chance.
Except that is not the terrifying thought. The terrifying thought is that my children don’t stand a chance. I am the guardian of the hearth—I understand this about mothers. I believe it deeply and wholly! And yet more often than not, my kids have a grumpy guardian—an angry, frustrated, scolding old troll at the hearth. I have worked on this for….well, three years now. I never get any better. I don’t know how to get any better. I read books and articles. I try new methods and approaches. I pray and plead. At the end of the week/month/year, I am still the frowning, failing thing I was previously. This is what truly haunts me. Constantly. Naggingly.
I have well-meaning friends and loved ones who keep trying to remind me of the positives: “Just think about how wonderful it will be when they are all in school together.” “It’s only hard for the first few years.” “You’ll miss this later.” “Every mom thinks she’s failing.” “But just think how you’ll get it all done now, and you can move past the pregnant phase that much faster.” “How neat for them to be so close; they’ll all be good buddies.” Sadly, ungratefully, I want to tell these wonderful people (because they are wonderful people) to shut up. I want to tell them that this nebulous future looks all well and good…. That doesn’t stop the here and now—these next few years when they are all young together—from being any less hard and tedious and frustrating. It doesn’t stop me from fretting and grumping and wanting to run away now, this idea that someday it all gets easier. And that someday actually gets more frightening to me, if I mess them all up before they ever get there!
So here I lay, in this bed of my own making, fretting and sweating and trying to wrap my head around the very near future. Yes, I put myself here. Yes, I will love this child fiercely when it makes its appearance. I will admit how I could never imagine my life—our family—without him or her. And I will still be overwhelmed by fear and anger and inadequacy. There is a distinction; and the overpowering love for the little creature will not negate the overpowering emotions I will be swimming in for the unforeseeable future.
Now, one more disclaimer: I understand what this must sound like to you, my dear family and friends who struggle having the children you so desperately want. I cannot imagine the hardship that is for you; and I genuinely wish I could grant you all the ease of conception and birth that you so deserve. Honestly! I say that without malice or conspiracy. I wish I could give you a houseful of children! And I promise that I will never presume to understand how you feel, over there on your side. And I will never say that you should take advantage of this time without kids and enjoy it; or that you’re lucky, because it gets a lot crazier on this side; or any of the other insensitive comments that people sometimes make. I promise to never pass judgment on you; and I hope you can return the favor. This side has its own set of hardships, and I’m sure we can agree on this one truth—that at times our own individual predicaments are too much to bear.
So please, for now, no sympathetic comments or pep talks or words of encouragement. I will pull myself together, more or less, in the next six months. But for now, I do not want to hear how much I'm going to end up loving this scenario in the long run. Or how it will all be all right. Or how we'll all make it somehow. Or how this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Or really, just anything. Because lucky as I may or may not be over here, I’m still finding it hard to breathe in and out right now.
How did this happen again? Oh yeah, top ten. Well, some say the world will end in fire…. I should have been a nun.
(Sorry my posts have been rather heated and emotional lately…Now you know why. I’ll get back to my usual nonsensical posts…um, sometime. It may be sometime after January.) L