When our daughter was a little over two months old, my husband and I took her out shopping. Now, anyone else out there with a colicky baby knows how dangerous this is. She could erupt at literally any moment for no reason and with no warning. She fell asleep in the car and the knot that had been forming in my stomach started to subside a little. Okay, I thought, this is good. We’ll just transfer her to the stroller and once we start walking, she’ll fall asleep again. Ha.
My husband and I were in a men’s clothing store engaged in a highly intellectual and significant discussion on whether he should purchase the grey sweater with blue stripes or the blue sweater with grey stripes (seriously, you would think the future of NASA rested on our decision if you could hear us) when two things happened. The first was that, since I was so absorbed in having a conversation with my husband about something other than the consistency of our daughter’s spit up or the last time she pooped, I had stopped rocking the stroller. And when I peered into the stroller, I saw my precious little girl’s eyes looking right into mine. Oh no.
The second was that a very obviously pregnant sales clerk approached us. I mention this fact because it was not obvious to me. In fact, I was so consumed with trying to get the pacifier into my daughter’s mouth before the bloodcurdling screams began that it wasn’t until this sales clerk had spoken to us, rang us up, and we left the store that my husband let me in on this not so secret detail.
When the sales clerk approached, she stuck her head into the stroller and said, as most people do when they look at babies, “Oh, she’s so cute.” I responded, without a second’s hesitation, “Sometimes she is. And sometimes I want to throw her out a window.” I glanced up from my pacifier duties long enough to flash a grin at the sales clerk, who was not grinning. In fact, she bristled. She looked me square in the eye and said, “You shouldn’t say that out loud.”
My first reaction, as it usually is when it comes to all things motherhood, was to be completely overwhelmed with guilt. I love my daughter and I would never actually consider throwing her out a window. I’m the mom who beats herself up for days when the temperature in the nursery goes slightly above 72 degrees. But the guilt quickly subsided, which very rarely happens, and I realized I was pissed off. Why shouldn’t I say that out loud? Because it might give my baby a complex? Because it makes me a bad mom? Because it makes other people uncomfortable?
In addition to having a colicky baby, or more likely because of that, I am being treated for post-partum depression. My therapist said she was so happy that I called because most women never admit to feeling so despondent after having a baby. And I can see why. When Facebook friends post pictures of their minutes old newborn, their feed instantly fills up with comments such as “Enjoy this time,” or “Take in every moment,” or “This is the time of your lives.” You know what I want to say? “My daughter has been alive for four months, so at least the next four months of your life are going to be really, really hard and you are going to feel anxious and guilty constantly, which will only be exacerbated by the fact that you are utterly exhausted. But yeah, enjoy every minute!”
The truth is that being a mother sucks a lot of the time. It is really, really hard. And I think more women would be willing to admit that if less people made them feel bad about it. At first I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I thought I was a terrible person because the first second I laid eyes on my daughter, I didn’t think, Oh, I never knew what love really was until this moment, like everyone said I would. You know what my actual first thought was? To my husband, I said, “Oh honey, she’s ugly.”
So that’s why I am writing this blog. To give voice to the thoughts that you have probably had, but somewhere along the way were told you shouldn’t. If you are looking for advice on sleep training or night weaning, this isn’t it. Unless, of course, you are looking for what not to do, in which case, keep reading. There’ll be plenty of that. But if you want to think, Oh good, I’m not alone, or I’m so happy someone is willing to say that, or simply, At least I’m not as crazy/terrible/neurotic (insert adjective of choice) as this lady, then come on in…the water’s warm! And feel free to share your own stories of the “joys” of motherhood. I won’t think you’re a bad mom. I’ll think you’re human. Welcome to Tales from the Trenches!