Fresh from the pediatrician, I come to you, my readers with my heart ripped out and going bam bing bang boom at the bottom of my stomach. Fear not – nothing is wrong. Some possible jaundice but in the scope of things that go wrong, that’s really nothing. But I just died one-million deaths watching a blood-taker with dubious talent turn little Mr. Smith’s arm bright purple with a tourniquet and then not be able to find his vein and switching to the other arm and bright purple-ing it until he was so out of his head with pain that he stopped screaming, his eyes glazed over, and he stared at the wall. I swear my baby went to his happy place and neither I nor the dubious blood taker were invited. Not invited FOREVER.
And in all my life I have only almost passed out a few times, each time associated with watching one of my children in pain. How do these little weird creatures nest themselves so deeply in our hearts, digging in so deep that it manifests physically? I really don’t know, but they do. They just do. To my great relief, I rallied and did not pass out, mostly because I was holding Sheppard and I couldn’t reconcile dropping him on the floor so I stared at the same spot Smith was, and counted backwards. Not all that helpful for Smith but it did the trick for me. One hour later and I still feel slightly buzzed.
Now the boys are napping and I have to approach something that is weighing heavily on me. I received an email this past week from a reader who didn’t give me permission to share her words so I won’t. But the jist of it was this: she’s a new mom as well. This reader is a new mom and is struggling with her feelings of mourning her life that she had before. She feels guilty for wanting the ease of childlessness back, she feels inadequate to calm and comfort her child, and thinks that she’s failing her child. The way she’s feeling is being compounded by reading what I write. She sees me enjoying my children, photographing each moment and praising my husband and older child endlessly. She’s essentially looking in from the outside and wondering how she doesn’t have what I do.
My big secret: I’m willing to bet she has exactly what I have. When I write for Pistols, it is many times to celebrate the moments I’ve experienced of joy, or of humor with my family. That is not to say that each moment of every day is full of joy and celebration. I tend to not detail the times I’ve gone into the kitchen and lost my mind in tears and sobs because I’m overwhelmed at all the things that I’m now on task to do. I tend not to write about the times I’ve snapped at Roan, bringing him to tears because his mom has lost her patience (again) and being only six, he doesn’t know how to act perfectly, all the time. I rarely indict myself and my crimes against my husband, where I desperately need someone to be mad at and his existence in my life is all the cause I need to list his faults.
I don’t write about these things because they are not the things I remember when I think of my life, but they do exist in full-blown living color, probably more often than I’d like to admit. And when I got this email from my fellow new mother, I felt like a big fat fraud. I do have an amazing life, one that I’ve built and constructed into something that I am so happy with. But I also fail at being the best person that I want to be, daily. Hourly. I have a hard time looking at my own faults and an even harder time showing them to the world, but I think it’s a disservice for me to pretend that everything is roses, all of the time. Being a new mom is hard. It is a big huge fat chunk of reality that sometimes seems much too much to take on. There are things we have to give up, things that are precious to us. There is a lot of sacrifice in being a mother, and sometimes we don’t feel like sacrificing anymore.
Yet, it’s all worth it. Which doesn’t take away the reality that there is a certain loss that comes with motherhood. And because you may be aware of that loss in no way takes away from your ability to be an amazing mother. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your child, and it doesn’t mean that anyone else on the planet is doing it “better” than you are. It just means that you’re honest enough with yourself to feel things that maybe a lot of people won’t admit to.
But I will admit it. To any of my readers (and specifically the one who took the time to write to me) who are new mothers or old mothers or thinking about becoming mothers, I am here to testify: I love my children with all my heart. But I do miss the things that not being a mother means. Time to myself, impromptu dates with my husband, friends who would call and say “Come out with us” and me saying “I’m on my way…”. Quiet time at home with no clock counting down the minutes until someone needs something from me. And I think that’s pretty ok to miss these things, because I would give them all up, plus one million other things, for the instances that you read about here. My stories that I write are not the sum of my whole life. But they are absolutely the things that matter the most to me. The way I get to laugh, enjoy, and love my family are easily worth the things that have left my life as the price.
And now, because the overwhelming majority of you are letting me know that you’re here for one thing only, a moment with the dudes: