I have been feeling increasingly… ambivalent, lately. This feeling extends to pretty much every part of my life. I am ambivalent about keeping my house in decent shape. I’m ambivalent about doing all the needs be done to ensure I’m prepared for work on Monday. I’m ambivalent about putting in the time and energy with my partner. I’m ambivalent about working on my book, which I’m pretty sure will never be published.
I’m ambivalent about having another baby.
Isa is an amazing girl. Truly, I do believe she is special. People tell me it all the time. Total strangers who meet us at the park assure me that she is a truly unique little girl. She has incredibly energy and a wonderful personality. I feel incredibly blessed to be entrusted with the responsibility of guiding her through this life.
Isa is an amazing girl. She is also incredibly stubborn and strong willed. She wants what she wants when she wants it. Her reactions to disappointment are intense and visceral. She throws herself on the floor. She screams. She hits. She purposefully hurst me. She writhes and twists and makes it impossible to contain her. Her physical strength is astounding; there has been more than one occasion when I’ve been unable to keep her safe from herself, when her head has struck the concrete with brutal force, when she’s given herself bumps or bruises or cuts.
There has been more than one occasion when I’ve totally and completely failed as a mother.
I know that what I’m describing is normal toddler behavior. I know that every mom of a child under four has experienced these things. But the thing is, I NEVER see other kids doing these things. Isa has had so many melt downs in public–at the park, at the grocery store–places with tons of other kids and I NEVER see other kids throwing tantrums like the ones she throws. And Isa throws these kinds of tantrums frequently, every day, many times a day.
Isa is only 1.5 years old. Whenever I admit to other mothers that I feel out of my depth, that this age is much harder than I had anticipated, they assure me that I have no idea what I’m in for, that 2.5 and 3.5 are SO MUCH HARDER. When they say that, something inside me dies. I have a really hard time not crying.
Why do I think I can handle another baby when this one already challenges me so much? Why do I think I can even handle being pregnant when sometimes my own daughter can overpower me? Why do I think I make it work with two when I’m failing so miserably with one?
Sometimes, when I come home from a particularly hard afternoon at the park, when Isa has fought putting on her socks, her shoes, her jacket, her hat, getting her diaper changed, not bringing five stuffies with us, going outside, walking down the street, holding my hand, pretty much everything I’ve requested she do, when I’ve failed to keep her head from crashing against the ground–as the eyes of ten parents remain trained, intently, on us–I wonder how I could ever be so foolish as to try to have another baby.
When I feel so defeated at the end of the day that I just want to crawl into a dark hole and never come out, I ask myself, what are you thinking wanting to do this again? How will you ever manage two when you can’t even manage one?
When Mi.Vida and I get in an argument just because we’re exhausted, because we have nothing left, I implore myself, You will ruin your relationship! Please don’t throw away everything you have!
Because sometimes, a lot of the time, it feels like having another child will be the end of me, the end of this life I’m struggling to keep a hold of as it is, the end of my relationship, my friendships, what little creative freedom I have left.
If I’m struggling this much just to parent one child, how on earth can I ever parent two?
Yeah. I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about it all.