“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something.” -Edward Everett Hale
I can’t tell if being a mother is making me a bad person, or if, through the arduous process of becoming a mother, I am actually becoming a better person and the negative aspects of my personality are highlighted as a result.
Here’s what I know: There are some glaring faults within me that could use my focused time and attention. Unfortunately, the other thing I know is that I current have very little time, focus or attention. More on that soon.
I keep thinking that other women cannot still be struggling this much after a full year. Fortunately, I know a lot of other women and every time I think that I must be dragging the painful portions of parenthood on longer than most, some woman groans and laughs sympathetically when she finds out how old my daughter is. I won’t say the camaraderie makes me feel normal, but it does make me feel less alone.
I am sometimes certain that my marriage is suffering irreparable damage thanks to the difficulty of parenting or, because I like to make it all about me, thanks to the attachment parenting choices I have made. I remember, then, that one of my friends told me while I was pregnant that “the first year of parenthood is hell on a marriage. No, seriously, it is HARD.” The knowledge that what I am experiencing is more common than is talked about is comforting, even if it doesn’t completely allay the fears that we’re never going to be the same again.
I am sometimes convinced that I am going to cause irreparable damage to my daughter in some way or another; I can envision her future life in therapy talking about her crazy mom and delicately exploring the subsequent fall out. Sometimes I think of the movie Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood and I hope that my daughter will be kidnapped by some of my crazy friends and all of my secrets explained. Of course my secrets don’t compare to the ones in that movie and, hopefully, my friends will have a *lot* less to explain. Still, the fear that some quirk or wounding or vulnerability of mine will in someway leave it’s mark on her hovers in the back of my mind. In times like these I remember that one of the gentlest, kindest, most loving people I know has admitted to moments of mothering in which she found herself wanting to set her baby down too roughly, or needing to walk away and leave him crying behind her while she calmed herself. I remember that she told me that “there will be times when you wonder what you were thinking and want to just walk away. That’s okay, it’s totally normal.” The knowledge that even my darker thoughts are normal and experienced by other women doesn’t necessarily diminish the mothers guilt that comes at the end of those days, but it does keep me grounded.
It’s a beautiful thing when a woman can share a particularly vulnerable part of her soul with another woman; it’s a special kind of gift we are able to give each other. I wish we would all do it more often.