From the anecdotal evidence I have gathered, if a woman (*ahem* more specifically, a woman parent – also known as a “mom”) will ever snap and turn into a manic depressive lunatic bitch it will happen when her youngest child approaches their tweens.
It’s an interesting phenomenon, really.
Since I’m such a huge fan of mental illness and since I frequently enjoy attempting to diagnose myself with some type of personality disorder or other, I thought exploring this particular topic might be fun.
Read my thoughts, then please feel free to comment below on how you feel on the topic. Anything goes.
So, you’ve given birth to your first child. Congratulations.
You may have held the hand of your partner or birthed alone; You may have had a fast birth or a slow birth; your baby may have been born vaginally or by cesarean section; you may have had water birth or have given birth with your heels closer to your armpits than you ever thought could be possible; you might have overwhelming feelings of love or you might have been in such shock that all you felt was denial.
The one thing that remains the same for all of us is that the births of our first children are life-changing.
I think that deserves caps-lock. And italics.
Then comes more diaper changes than you have ever imagined possible. Breastfeeding woes; breastfeeding successes; inability to breastfeed woes; bottle-feeding successes. Sleepless nights, adrenal fatigue, baby acne, cradle cap, eczema, yellow poop, green poop, mucousy poop – Oh My!
You read. You compare. How big is my baby? Not as big as so-and-so’s baby. Far larger than whats-his-name’s baby.
Is my baby smart enough? Are they walking early enough? Are they talking soon enough? Is my house clean enough? Is my food nutritious enough? Am I spending enough quality time with her? Am I active enough with him?
Does it matter? At the time – yes – though you’ll deny it to the death.
God help if anyone saw the mountain of laundry that needs to be folded – you close your bedroom door when you have guests over. You spit-wash your kids faces before you step out of the car into the grocery store. You don’t brush your little girl’s hair all week, except for Sunday mornings before going to church.
You care about what “they” think. Too much.
Because “they” are judging you. That bruise? They’re going to think you hurt him. She’s thin? They’re going to think you starve her. He’s got a dirty face? They’re going to think you don’t care. They are whispers of thoughts, infiltrating your subconscious. They are like poison.
Then there’s the Guilt. Topped with another enormous helping of Guilt. Then there’s Worry. Then there’s Stress. Then there’s Anxiety.
Then you feel it.
There it is… bubbling under the surface. That monster waiting for you to SNAP.
But you hold it in. Just one more day. One day at a time. Keep breathing.
Then you pee on a stick and realize you’re going to do it all over again.
But this time, you don’t care quite so much. You’re more confident. You know you’re a great mom and you just don’t care what “they” think anymore. Who the hell are “they” anyway?
Besides, you’re far too busy now to care about how other people feel. One kid was a hobby. Two is a full time job. Three is overtime. Lordy help you if you have more.
But how do I feel? You might wonder. What about me? Somewhere along the road with your kids, between caring about what everyone else thought and being the best mother you could be – you forgot yourself. Who are you? You’re just an empty shell. When was the last time you did anything for yourself – truly selfishly – without considering your family first? Without mitigating a dozen factors, rescheduling or delegating?
Though you feel chained to your responsibilities and the monster inside you struggles harder against its bonds, you’ve grown to enjoy that feeling of being in control. In fact, being in control is something you’ve struggled for so long to achieve that as much as you desperately yearn for freedom, you also fear it.
You feel like you’re being torn in half.
Eventually your kids, little by little, will become independent. They will start to do odd jobs around the house. They will make themselves breakfast. They will walk to their friends’ houses or to school by themselves. They will stay home by themselves. You will have to work family time around their schedules.
The power struggles you will have mimic their toddlerhood meltdowns – except now your kids are as strong as you and have opinions that make your ears bleed and think you’re trying to ruin them and God Dammit, you can’t just stick them in a time out anymore. You will fight with them, all the while knowing that if they wanted to, they could choose to walk out that door and they might never come back.
You will be terrified and may find yourself trying to control them from a place of fear.
You may find yourself wondering if all that stress… all that anxiety… was ever worth it?
Manic depressive lunatic bitch emerges.
Despite the potential that we may all ultimately fall prey to our inner monsters, I can’t think of a single mother who wouldn’t trade in everything for one more day with their kids.
Every moment with them is like a schooner swelling and falling as the ocean breathes. Sometimes you gain momentum and sometimes you move backward. Sometimes it’s scary; sometimes it’s dangerous; sometimes you feel like you’re going to retch – but it, like life, is always beautiful.
You always know that if that schooner goes down, you’ll either sink or swim.
I pray I’m learning to swim fast enough.