Finally, I have a moment to write.
So we got married on Satuday, January 4th, and when the dust settled it felt like a bomb had gone off. First Osita was home from school, then Christmas happened, then Osita was still home from school, then New Years happened, then Osita was STILL home from school, then we got married and then… finally it was all over… and FINALLY Osita went back to school.
During that time so much happened and I was in strict survival mode. In fact Osita and I seemed to be in a constant state of fight-or-flight the entire time. To say it started to wear on me would be an understatement. By the end I felt like a shell of my former self.
I learned a lot about myself in the past two weeks and most of it was hard to accept. But I am doing my best to incorporate this knowledge so that I can better manage myself and my expectations, because when I do, we all benefit.
Osita went back to school yesterday and it was tough for both of us. She clearly didn’t want to go, though she didn’t say as much. Our near constant reminders on Sunday that she would be returning to school the next morning were met with muted avoidance. She never once acknowledged what we were saying and even Monday morning she hardly seemed to understand that I was getting her ready to go to school. When we finally got there she seemed sad, and I felt terrible for her. I know it’s been hard to go to school when she seems to realize (even though it’s never been said out loud) that I am home with the baby. Walking back to the car after I dropped her off I thought I’d be filled with the light airy sensations of FREEDOM but instead I felt the wretched, unbearable weight of GUILT.
I cried backing out of the parking lot. I thought I would be jumping for joy but instead my body was wracked by sobs. This motherhood thing is so fucking complicated.
On Sunday night I was looking for something on my FB page and I came across some videos of Osita from late 2012 and early 2013. I couldn’t believe how little she was just a short year ago. Her little voice sounded like a baby’s and I watched those videos with an ache for that time, when everything seemed simpler.
Except I just read some posts from those months in which I declare us more miserable than we had ever been, in which I describe horrible meltdowns and physical violence so extreme that we feared for her safety, and ours. Does this parenting thing ever get easier, or do the challenges just shift?
Getting Osita ready for school yesterday and today, and dealing with her last night, my mantra was compassion. I tried to approach every situation with empathy. Having watched those videos, I was able to remember the little girl trapped in this new preschooler body and mind. I was able to see how completely her world has been turned upside down, how devastatingly difficult all the upheaval has been for her. She is no longer the cutie-pie that everyone fawns over. She is no longer the center of attention. It’s no wonder she’s so angry, so defiant. We have totally screwed her and it’s understandable that she’s pissed as hell.
These past two days, every scream, every demand, every meltdown, has been met with compassion and empathy. And it’s not faked either. Now that I have some space from my daughter I can better see how much she is hurting, and I want desperately to make it better.
And you know what? Things were SO MUCH BETTER. She still had just as many tantrums as she has been having but they didn’t last as long and I didn’t feel resentment toward her when they were over. In fact, we had some very tender moments after her meltdowns and I could tell that she really appreciated knowing that when she tested me, I would still love her.
I tell her I love her every single day, but I haven’t been SHOWING her. Not nearly enough.
I wish I could have handled her challenges like this for the last 16 days but the truth is, I just couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me. I wouldn’t have it in my now if she were home every hour of the day. I NEED that time away from her to recharge, so that when she requires all my reserves, I have something there to give her.
I am not the kind of mom that can be with her kid all day every day. At least not well. And I know this past two weeks was exceptionally bad–I’ve spent two months at home with my daughter in the summer and we were fine–but honestly, I’m just not cut out to be a SAHM. I thought I could do it, if I wanted to, if the opportunity ever presented itself, but now I’m certain. I could not stay at home with my kids. I would not be a good mother to them. They deserve better than the me they would get.
And that is a hard pill to swallow. Really hard. It feels stuck in my throat at times, leaving an acrid taste in my mouth. But it’s the truth. And hopefully it will dissolve slowly until the fantom feeling of its presence finally fades away.
I have so much more to tackle and unpack. I have so much more to say about what I’m learning about myself as a person, and as a mother, through the birth of my second child. None of it is particularly positive, at least I don’t view it as such yet, but it is enlightening. I have felt some strong feelings toward my first born in the past two weeks, feelings I’m not proud of, feelings I may not even share here. I have felt suffocated and overwhelmed. I have felt anger and resentment. I have felt, for the first time in my short tenure as a mother, like running away. I have wanted to scream at my child and I have had to leave the room to avoid doing so.
In short I’ve been a terrible mother. And I’m not proud of it. But it’s who I am. And I suppose I have to get used to it.
I’m sad to drop my daughter off at school every day; I know she would rather be home with me. But I also understand, possibly for the first time, that I NEED to drop her off, otherwise I can’t be there for her in the ways she requires. I can’t be the mother she deserves if I’m with her all day. And I’m thankful that we can both have a break, so that when I do pick her up, I can approach her with compassion and empathy that she so very much deserves.