Sometimes a girl’s just gotta write because a girl’s just gotta write. She’s got to do it for the people. And, let’s face it, she’s gotta do it for her own sanity. That’s why I started this blog, actually: to rescue my mental health from the brink. And it worked! I have complete mental health! Squeaky clean! And yet, I still enjoy the same sort of cleansing feeling that I experienced in the first year of writing, although, truth be told, things have changed.
I’ve become pretty busy, in case you didn’t notice. So busy in fact, that I now go weeks between posts. I have to force myself to sit here and write, because just like a junkie falls at the feet of their addiction, this is mine, and I am falling at the feet of it, because I know I will feel better after. In the past, I would write when I felt that my children were stealing my soul, or perhaps that they were tiny little terrorists (Al-kid-a?) sent to wake me up just as I had entered REM.
But see, things have changed: I don’t have a baby. At my house, I have full-fledged humans. They say things like, “Mama! Luca just showed me his butt!” or, “If you don’t let me play Angry Birds on your phone I am going to tear this house to pieces!” Basically, it’s like The Godfather at my house. But it’s better. Better than what, you may ask? Better than having a baby.
Now, before I continue, I must say that it’s remotely possible that I am suffering from PTSD. Or, PTIDSFFFYSD (post-traumatic I-didn’t-sleep-for-four-fucking-years stress disorder) and because of this, my opinion may be skewed. That said, I think I am right on the money when I say that having a baby in the house? One that belongs to you? And doesn’t do much of anything except manage to shoot their poop so far across the room that it hits the wall? Well, it’s really freaking hard.
I look back on myself as a mother to my first child, and I cringe. I was so far out of my depth, and at the same time I was so convinced that it was what I wanted: motherhood. So convinced that it came as a devastating shock to me that I was miserable as a new mother. You know, I don’t think miserable is the right word for it. I think it was more that I was paralyzed. To the, er, three people who came over to my house that year, I am sure I appeared to be swirling down the drain of stay-at-home motherhood. I never went anywhere with Rowan that wasn’t the park down the street. We spent so much time at the house that I could feel myself understanding and relating to people with Agoraphobia. And at the same time, I began to realize that I had absolutely no support system.
None of my friends had kids, and we lived 40 minutes away from family. I had no babysitter, and a husband that worked 40-50 hours a week. I was so freaking lonely that, well, I went a little crazy. Joining a moms’ group helped me a bit, but at the same time it left me feeling oddly disconnected from myself. I met so many nice women, but it brought me further and further away from my sense of self as a human, with an identity apart from being a mother. The discussions about kids, diapers, breasts, poop . . . and the almost automatic discussions that highlighted our kids and what milestones they had reached, well, as nice as they were to have, they terrified me. I felt trapped in a role that I didn’t want to embody completely, but it seemed expected of me. So, I clung to the women who laughed when I said things that were a bit outrageous (who, me?) or who laughed readily at themselves—and me. I clung to the women who dared to talk about books, music, politics, and movies or who generally felt as I did. And I started cheating on the moms’ group.
And now I see it all so clearly. I suppose that as more time passes, I will see it clearer still. When I hear about new moms struggling, I get it. I get it so hard. I want to go to their homes, strap the kid to them, open the door, push them out, and lock the door behind them. I want to tell them how there really are other people who can watch their children for a few hours—and that these people really want to keep the child alive, so, no worries. I want to tell them that even though it feels strange at first to go from caring for a child all day to having sex with your husband, give it a go. Really. And that asking for help is, well, hard. It’s really hard. But it’s a step in a healthy direction. I want to tell them to tell the truth to other women. If being a mom is hard for you, or not what you expected? It’s ok to tell people your truth. You aren’t admitting anything—because admitting something means that you feel you are doing something wrong. And you aren’t. Women who find motherhood easy or simple are medicated. I bet you, like, five bucks.
I want to tell new mothers so many things, but worry that I will sound like a tool. I want them to know how it gets better, easier, transformative, fun, hysterical, interesting, challenging, inspiring, emotional, loving, mystifying and amazing. When it’s hard, it pales in comparison to what you’ve already made it through. I want to tell them to call me, but let’s face it, I’m busy. But for me, the one thing that I want to tell them, because it worked for me?
I want to tell them to write.