I called this Abrupt Halt, but that was a lie. I have not halted for motherhood. I have attempted to keep everything the same but just throw a baby in the mix. That is not possible. Many Moms already knew this and were reading me for weeks like an impending car crash. I refused to admit that and chose to be all the things. I went back to work after Eleanor was two weeks old. I tried to reach out to friends, family, coworkers to ask for advice for burn out and preventing it before I felt burned out. All of that was delaying the inevitable.
I’m about to say something very controversial to some and indulgently gratifying to others: It has occurred to me that I hate parenting. I hate it. This sucks. It is not what I imagined it to be. There’s no gratitude. There’s no joy. There’s no accomplishment. Maybe the answer is just “not yet” but until then, this sucks.
It really does. Does it get better? I’m sure. I’ll have moments of pride and accomplishment and astonishment at how cool she is, but for now? Nope. My latest accomplishment is changing Ellie’s blowout diaper and contain the entire explosion within one diaper.
Yep. I did that. I’m awesome.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my child. I love Eleanor with every piece of my heart. There are times when I watch her squirming and flailing herself in my arms like she wants to fly away and I think, not yet, little one, don’t try to grow up so soon just yet.
But there are many times when she is still scream-crying for over 45 minutes at a time, and I feel like I am the worst mother in the world. I feel like Ellie isn’t getting what she needs from me. Like I’m not giving her enough face mimicking time, or enough singing time, or I’m not fast enough responding to her crying to build our bond.
There are times when I’m holding her and snuggling and she’ll look up at me with her big, blue eyes, and I’ll smile at her. Then suddenly her face distorts into a frown, then her mouth opens with a quiver and a sniff, and she’ll let out a demon scream from hell.
She’s a Cry Monster from Planet Shriekscream.
For weeks five and six of Ellie’s life, Sara and I both tried working from home. For her week seven, this week, I took a week off regardless of how much time off I had left. I needed the week, and Eleanor deserves full-time care. While home this week, and Sara is still working, I am trying to take all overnight shifts so she can sleep. That, so far, is an astounding experiment in sleep torture. By Tuesday morning, I was so incoherent that my texts to Sara had words out of order. Sick trick, brah.
The real reason I took this week off? I could not continue to do it all. I could not write about Ellie’s progress in a blog, and work, and get any sleep, and keep the necessary bottles clean in time for the next feedings, and ensure Ellie had attention, and Coda got to go out three times a day.
In fact – oh, here’s a good one – the primary indicator that something had to give because I WAS NOT going to return to my old mental health habits (see previous post). It was the problem that Coda had skipped several, sporadic meals in the past week because both Sara and I assumed the other person had fed her.
Imagine Coda! Our fur baby! Sitting beneath me, unassuming, and typically sleeping, when her tummy rumbled with a mighty growl. I texted Sara to ask what time she fed Coda. Nooooooooo!
Poor fur baby didn’t say a word. Didn’t go sit in her feed spot (like she normally does if we delay her food past her satisfaction). She just moped about. “Oh well,” she seemed to say, “the hoomans seem very busy with the Little again. I don’t want to botter dem.”
So now I’m the worst human mom and the worst dog mom EVER AT THE SAME TIME.
Looking back to the post from two weeks ago when I said:
Being a new parent is hard in the way that learning to live with anxiety is hard, in the way that eating right and exercising your body is hard, the way that doing the dishes before you go to bed each night and don’t leave them for tomorrow is hard.quoting myself like a pretentious cow… moo.
This is true. Being a parent is hard … just like that. The only difference is when you don’t want to eat healthy anymore, you grab a Twinkie or fast food. When you don’t want to exercise anymore, you sit on the couch instead. When you don’t do the dishes, you’re just annoyed with yourself the next morning and now you have to do dishes. There are no dish fairies that make them go away.
When I don’t want to be a parent, when I don’t want my daughter to interrupt my life any longer, when I don’t want to share my headspace with crying and screaming? I don’t have a choice.
I. don’t. get. to. stop. parenting.
Ellie doesn’t go away the way that a looming call to exercise does. She wakes when she wants. She needs food, soothing comfort, entertainment, teaching and growth. I’m done being clever. I’m done entertaining. I’m at a loss for where to go from here. I was hoping this blog could continue to tell me about who I am and how amazing mom I am becoming.
At this point, Ellie is seven weeks old, and I am not doing either. I am in a fog and wishing I was a better mother. Wishing I could look like I have got it all together, and gain blog followers, and become a mommy-influencer, no longer need to work at my day-job. Now I sound like a petty complainer – wishing my life was different instead of just taking a nap.
Here’s my self peptalk:
It’s gonna get better, Mama! You are awesome. There are other mothers out there struggling in the same way – especially during this Covid shutdown. There are mothers being asked to do things they never imagined they would need to do. We are all in this together. And yes, you feel helpless, hopeless, and alone in your home by yourself, but Ellie is so worth it. You will look back on these times and smile that you leveled up with Ellie. You grew to become a better parent with every tantrum and every stressor. You aren’t doing it perfectly, but you are doing it. You are pushing through. It may get harder before it gets better, but you are strong, powerful, and committed to this amazing work of being Ellie’s mom.
There. Now I just need to believe it.