We’re Pregnant! (And overwhelmed, and anxious, and so on)

Well. It happened.

After five months of trying, weeks before our official cut off date, we did it.

We got pregnant.

I can’t even describe what it felt like, seeing that “yes” pop up in the little window. It was overwhelming. And not necessarily in a good way. It was an immediate “oh, FUCK”.

I can vividly remember how it felt when we got the positive tests for G. and for L. How excited I was. How grateful. We had had a loss between them so that second test was just so amazing. I cried, I couldn’t wait to tell people, it was the most exciting time. This time felt different. I saw that positive, and all I could think was “Am I really going to go through with this?!” I knew I was starting to struggle a bit mentally, with winter coming. I could feel myself starting to withdraw, starting to feel my seasonal depression show its head. After Shane’s shift changed and no longer matched up with my cycle, we knew that this was it. This was our family. We got a dog. We were settled and happy. And then I ovulated two days early and now here we are. 8 weeks pregnant with a baby I’m still not 100% convinced I want.

That’s the first time I’ve admitted that anywhere other than in my head.

I’m so scared for this. I’m worried that my postpartum is going to come back. I worried that I’m going to be overwhelmed. That I’m not going to be able to care for each of them they way they need to be.

And then there’s petty things. I’m worried that I won’t be invited to places because of my three hooligans. That it’s going to make daily life harder. Even just getting out the door is going to be harder. And right now, I can’t focus on the good. On all the joy that my friends with three kids say it brings. The extra love, the relationships between the kids. I’m still lost in the mindspace of how much harder this is going to make my life. This isn’t a good headspace to be in during pregnancy. I should be glowing, right?! Not a ball of anxiety about what’s to come. I already barely sleep. G. is super excited, but her brother gets jealous when the dog snuggles me, so that’s going to be a challenge. And then the dog. I still can’t leave the house without him destroying at least one thing, so that’s going to drive me insane, and now that winter is coming, it’s too dark to walk him properly after work, especially with the kids. He still runs away off leash, I can’t haul the stroller through the snow and L. refuses to walk so what am I supposed to do?

Ugh. Life is a mess. A complicated, stressful mess. This is adulting right? This is how it’s supposed to be, right? That’s what I’m told, that there’s always going to be stressors and complications. I just need to learn how to cope again. I’ve stopped my yoga, I haven’t written in ages, I’ve been disassociating again. So today, I’m writing. I found a prenatal yoga program by my favourite yoga studio, I’m hoping to turn things around before I fall as deep as I did with my last pregnancy.

Cross my fingers.

Still A Good Mom

We’ve been home a lot the last few weeks. First L. got croup, so we were home for a week waiting for the worst of the symptoms to pass. Then it was a long weekend, and then after three days of work, both my and L.’s classrooms were closed due to a positive Covid case. Ever since, there have been more and more cases added on, and now that we’re close to L.’s return date…G.’s classroom found a positive case. Now I’m looking at even more time at home. We aren’t able to really go anywhere; the children aren’t symptomatic, but L. is a close contact so we’re being careful just in case. We’ve gone to the beach a few times, early in the morning before anyone else came. We go to empty parks. We go for drives for coffee and just to get out. But mostly, we’ve been playing at home. It hasn’t been awful. G. learned how to ride her bike. We have a sandbox and a climbing structure and a swing set. We have lots of things to do outside. The problem is, first it was 30+ degrees outside, and we could only handle being out for short periods of time, and then it started raining every day.

This is worst case scenario for my anxiety. Long blocks of uninterrupted play time with my children, with no buffer, no escape. (Isn’t that an awful thought, being alone with my children flares up my anxiety?! That’s a whole other thing to unpack, some other time). The mess. The noise. The chaos. I was dreading it.

In actuality, it hasn’t been awful. We’ve had moments, but that’s it. Just moments. Not days anymore. Just moments.

I have a very specific kind of guilt. When I get overwhelmed, I tend to disassociate. I want to disappear. Usually by mindlessly scrolling. Which means I leave my children to play independently for blocks of time, and then I feel guilty for leaving them unattended for blocks of time, for ignoring them. They usually start to whine for attention, I start to snap because I’m interrupted from my disassociating, and then everyone feels awful. So, I always feel the need to be playing with my kids, which overwhelms me and kickstarts the whole cycle all over again. Cue the guilt. Because we’re home and she had no kids to play with here, G. asks me to play quite a bit, and it all came to a head when she was constantly telling me I was doing it wrong, and changing everything I touched, and telling me what to say, what to do, how to play. I was annoyed, and told her, no. I’m not going to play if you’re constantly telling me what to do. It’s not fun for me to be bossed around. And ever since, she’s toned it down. She lets me join and actually play. It’s so much calmer, and much less tortuous than it had been. It feels wrong, to not like to play when my whole career is based on playing with children. It makes my skin itch, a little. Like sometimes is wrong. But that’s part of the issue. I don’t like to play the games that four year olds like to play.

This issue of independent play still bothered me. I still feel so much guilt for saying No, you can play alone for a while. In an intellectual, professional way, I know that long periods of uninterrupted, self-driven play is important for creativity and problem-solving and brain development, but it was so hard for me to leave them alone to do their work. As much as people knock on Instagram culture for creating unrealistic standards, it’s actually what’s really helped me. In an earlier post, I mentioned an account that I follow, and she had really settled a lot of the contradictions in my head. She laid out how she handles independent play in her house, and it made so much sense to me. She talks about setting time for connection – genuine connection – and then setting time for independence. That’s when she gets her own work done, and spends time on herself. And it makes sense to me. A lot of my children’s behaviours aren’t attention-seeking, they’re connection-seeking. By spending uninterrupted, focused time with each of the kids, they started looking at me to entertain them less and less. They still ask me to play, but they accept the boundaries a little easier when they know that it isn’t forever, that I will be available to them in a little while. And now they play. They play alone, they play with each other, but they play. The screen time detox that I set into place weeks ago has helped (and so has losing the tv remote) and they start their day off with quiet place, and I start my day off in a quiet place, instead of immediate stimulation. And they play, without constantly asking me to join or to help, or to direct. They just come in and out of play. When they need sometime from me – food, a drink, a few minutes of connection, they come, we hang out, and then they play again. It’s been liberating in a way, but there’s still residual guilt with it.

I’ve started telling myself, I can let my kids play alone. I’m not ignoring my kids and damaging my bond with my children by letting them play independently. We find new ways to do things that we both enjoy. My counsellor suggested it, to find ways to spend time together that feels comfortable for all of us. We go for walks. We colour. We snuggle and read books. We make TikToks together. But we don’t really play together. We connect in other ways. It doesn’t make me a bad mom if my kids play alone.

This is my new mantra.

Not playing with my kids does not make me a bad mom.

Not playing with my kids does not make me a bad mom.

Not playing with my kids does not make me a bad mom.

Little Fires Everywhere

We had a grass fire scare last night.

It was 8km away, on the other side of a river, but I almost panicked. I had bags packed. I had food packed in a cooler. I had all my important documents together, my external hard drive packed, chargers all together. It was all on the floor by the front door with a note taped to the door reminding me of all the things I needed to grab if I had to leave in a hurry. Then I sat and I refreshed the local question and answer page on Facebook, checking for updates, wondering how I would be told that I needed to leave and imagining what it was going to be like having to evacuate.

Of course, it was contained within a few hours and I felt like an idiot for being so freaked out.

But this is anxiety, isn’t it. Its prepping for the worst case scenario because you’re scared you won’t be able to hold it together if the worst case scenario happens. It’s being able to envision, in pain staking detail, all the ways things can go wrong. It’s remembering what happened to people you know who were caught in a forest fire, who had to leave everything behind, and being terrified that is what is about to happen to you. It’s ignoring the fact that there is 8km and a river between you and the fire, and only hearing the wind is blowing in your direction and that it hasn’t rained in weeks. It’s accepting this as your new reality and preparing yourself for it, because you are sure that you won’t be able to hold it together for your kids when the fire hits. It’s planning where you’re going to go, where you’re going to stay, how much gas is in the car.

It’s always looking for the escape route.

Anxiety is doing this with every. fucking. thing.

My new therapist talked to me about the link between anxiety and creativity. That creative people are more prone to anxiety because they are able to create entire worlds in their heads that feel as real as the world around them. They are able to imagine, in excruciating detail, exactly how everything can go wrong. When you live your life like this, how can it NOT affect you? I’m a writer. It’s what I’ve always done, it’s how I’ve processed, how I communicate with myself and with other people. I’m not so great with the talking but I can write. So it’s not surprising that I can tell myself stories all about how things will fall apart. This is the narrative that runs through my head. And I can be convincing. I had myself running around my house at 10pm taking pictures of everything I owned for insurance purposes over a grass fire that was only vaguely in my area. Who does that to themselves?!

I don’t know how to function like this anymore. I hadn’t really even thought about all the ways my anxiety manifests in my life until I started to see a new therapist. This one is a real therapist, not just a counsellor, and she’s tough. I cried a lot. She made me have an anxiety attack – on purpose – so that I could just sit with it and experience it and realize I will be okay. It was not the most positive experience. But, I’m hopeful. Still. Three therapists later, I’m still hopeful. I think. I just want a way to live like a normal person. I don’t want to fight fires any more.

Weight

She sat alone in the dark, rocking her child back and forth.
The child was heavy in her arms.
The weight felt foreign, an extension of herself that didn’t quite fit.
It had demands that she never quite felt she could meet.
Before had been easier.
The physical connection had been a reassurance, an innate confidence in his moods, his needs. Every kick had emotion, every roll an intention.
Now, the physical touch drove home the separation.
His needs were no longer hers but a mystery.
A puzzle she had to piece together.
This tiny creature loomed larger than life in the dark.
In daylight, her face and her scent were all he would accept. 
By nightfall he both desired and detested her comfort.
And she was exhausted. 

As she rocked, she thought about the child beyond the door.
The one who seemed so mature compared to the child in her arms.
The one who desperately wanted to be the child in her arms.
The one who wanted to be both grown and little, yet didn’t manage to be either.
This child had also been an extension of herself.
Their bond had had time to be nurtured, there was confidence in glances, in sounds and gestures. She was familiar and comfortable and comforting.
Until she wasn’t.
Suddenly this child had become a new entity.
One with feelings that couldn’t be processed and thoughts that couldn’t be expressed and needs that desperately needed to be met. 

And she failed her. 

Again and again she failed her. 

As the new weight pressed her down, she could feel it pushing on the child.
Sometimes the weight was too much and she pushed the child to carry it. 
Such a large burden for a child who wanted to be small. 
No matter how she tried, no matter how much of the weight she shouldered, she could not lift it completely off the child. 
So there was guilt.
So much guilt it was suffocating. 
The weight sat right on her chest.
Constricting.
Some days it was all she could do to breathe.

As she rocked, she breathed. 
Back and forth. In and out. 
She felt the weight in her arms finally relax. 
She heard laughter beyond the door. 
Tonight, she wanted to join the laughter, to find out what was hiding under all that weighed her down.
But the door was so very far away and she was so very tired.
So instead, she rocked back and forth, matching the motion to the inhales and exhales.
Looking at the light that leaked around the door.
A door that seemed like so much more than a door.
There was life behind that door, one who’s pressures she resented and who’s memory she clung to.
A life that used to be hers.
One that she may never fully find again.

The weight of that loss settled in amongst the others as she sat alone in the dark, rocking her child back and forth.
The weight of her new life.
One she was not certain she could carry.

2 week wait

Today is day 10 out of my first two week wait. I could take a pregnancy test if I wanted to.

So why don’t I want to?

Every other time we tried to get pregnant, I took so many pregnancy tests. I wasted so much money, so much time, so much anxiety on pregnancy tests. It was all I could think of, even though I know that worrying wasn’t going to change anything, and testing too early won’t help the anxiety. I knew these things, and I still took so many tests. And now this time, I don’t want to test at all. I’m too scared of the answer, no matter what it is.

When we talked about having a third child, I was all for it. I wanted another so bad. I have so many friends that are pregnant and I was so jealous, I wanted that so badly.

Now that the time is here and there’s the possibility that I could actually be pregnant… I have so many regrets. Not regrets, that’s not the word. More like, misgivings. I have misgivings.

I found a notebook I had been journaling in when I was newly postpartum with L. He was around 3 months old, and I could feel this fog of blackness just settling around me. I was numb. I read through all the words I had written and I could feel those feelings again, and all I could think was why? Why am I trying to put myself through this again? Why would I open myself back up to the possibility of that? It was so cold and so lonely, and I had so many regrets about upsetting the status quo. It took so much to find a new normal that I don’t know if I really want to fuck with that again.

Then another part of me wonders, if getting pregnant broke my brain, maybe getting pregnant will fix it. Maybe the flux of hormones will reset whatever is out of whack in there. Who knows?

So I’m just waiting. Waiting to see if my period come or not. If it doesn’t come by next weekend then I’ll suck it up and I’ll test and I’ll know for sure one way or the other. And we’ll deal with whatever the answer is. I think maybe I know what I want to happen. I don’t think I want it to happen yet. I don’t know if I want it at all. I may have made a mistake. If I have this many misgivings, it must mean that I think I’m making a mistake, right?

I don’t know if I can admit that to my husband.

WAP for Preschoolers

I had an interesting conversation with my husband a few weeks ago about societal views on female sexuality, morality and children.
In other words, we discussed WAP and whether or not it was appropriate listening material for our 4 year old.

Me, I’m all for it. I have never once censored her music. She listens to rap, she listens to heavy metal, she listens to pop and classical. She loves Five Finger Death Punch, and Blue by Eiffel 65. She does ballet to the Nutcracker Suite and twerks to Britney Spears. She’s got the most well-rounded music taste of any 4 year old I’ve ever met. I’ve always been a big music lover and that’s one thing I really wanted to instil in my kids. And not once have I any issue with G. using inappropriate language.


For real though. She’s been learning that there are things that are appropriate and okay to say at home, and things that are not okay to say at school, and I think that’s a good thing. She’s learning context. She’s learning to read her audience. It’s my job as a parent to teach her these things. It’s not their job as an artist to censor themselves for my children. If I wasn’t prepared to teach her these things, and think that she was capable of learning these things, then I would make different choices. If you parent otherwise, that’s what works for you, and all the power to you. Your family, your choice.


So back to WAP. My hubby decided that it was not appropriate for G. to listen to. I hit him with the “Missy Elliot is okay but this isn’t? So she can listen to Work It, but not this?” “Yeah, but this song is just gross.”
Turns out, the word pussy is gross. What about it makes it gross? The fact that women are owning what they want, what they like, and what they need? It’s okay for countless men to sing about all the things they want us to do to them, what they want to do to us, but we can’t take ownership of that and say what we would like? I can hear “Slob on my knob” but not “pussy’s wet, come take a dive”?

Bitch Please. For someone who makes fun of “snowflakes”, you’re getting awfully offended.

We’ve been having lots of these conversations lately, especially because we are raising both a boy and girl. The expectations are different, but the outcome is the same. My daughter will learn to protect herself and my son will learn to protect others. My children have and will learn consent at a very early age. G. is allowed to say No, I don’t want hugs right now. Or I don’t feel like having cuddles. I was very firm on that. She has always had the right to say no, and I have always respected that right. I’ve modelled it for them. If I don’t want them climbing on me, or if I’ve had enough of the game we are playing, I say stop. I tell them this isn’t comfortable for me anymore and I end whatever is happening. Doesn’t matter. Stop always means stop. If G. has had enough of L. climbing on her, she has the right to say stop and we will stop him. If L. isn’t laughing anymore when G. is pulling him around or messing around on the couch with him, we tell her “Look at his face, he isn’t having fun anymore. Time to find something new to do.” They are learning to respect the word no, and to use it. I am determined that they will never be scared to use the word no.

The flip side of this is that I do not want them to be scared of hearing the word no. No does not mean that I don’t like you anymore, or that you’re somehow less than because someone said no to you. They are saying no to the situation, it is not a rejection or reflection of who you are as a person – how you react to the word no is. What comes next is the true measure of your character. Are you going to lash out? Will you name call? Claim that she’s playing hard to get and double down on your advances? Or are you just going to say okay and find something else to do that you both enjoy? Will you take the rejection personally or see it for what is it, a boundary that they have asked you not to cross?

I don’t like everyone I meet. I don’t want to fuck everyone I see. How can you ever assume that every other person wants to fuck you? How does that even make sense that you are allowed to have preference but others cannot, especially if that preference excludes you? Not all feelings will be reciprocated, but that doesn’t make you less. And it’s my job as a mom to make sure that my children understand that. Their worth is not tied up into how much other people want to fuck them. You are more than your body or your ability to score chicks. You are more than a notch on someone’s bedpost. You are more than someone else’s judgement on you, and others are more than your judgement on them.

So my kids hear the words stop. They hear I don’t like this anymore. They hear I don’t want to do this anymore. And they listen. They know that no means no, and that they have the right and the privilege of using it anytime they need to. L. will learn as he grows that he will be intimidating just by the fact of his existence and that even if he knows he’s a good guy, others can’t know for sure just by looking at him. He will learn to be patient. He will learn to be understanding. He will learn to respect boundaries. His sister will learn to set them. She will learn that not every person she meets has good intentions, and she has full permission to leave any situation that makes her feel uncomfortable. But she will also learn basic self-defence, because not everyone will respect her boundaries and that thought makes me sad. It makes me worried for what she can and will likely experience because of the reality of being female-presenting in today’s society.

Let’s circle back to WAP one more time. When females take control of something that’s “a man’s game”. How does that make you feel? Is it the word itself? Does that make you uncomfortable? Or are you just uncomfortable with the notion of giving up a modicum of power? You big sexy man beast, make the girls weak in the knees, panty dropper, you. Don’t like the idea of us dropping our own panties? Deal with it. Don’t like the idea that we don’t want to drop our panties for you? Maybe it’s time to do some self-reflecting. There are conversations to be had around songs like this. About power dynamics, consent, the power of word choice, and why this song is triggering. So until you can tell me why my child can listen to men sing “face down, booty up, that’s the way we like to fuck” but not women sing “give me everything you got for this wet ass pussy”, you can keep your opinions to yourself, because they’re likely not welcome here. I’mma raise a girl that takes as much as she gives, and a boy that gives as much as he takes. Welcome to the 21st century – your women have rights now ✌🏻

Easter Magic

Motherhood is hard. We can all agree on that. However. Some days it’s hard in different ways. Sometimes it’s not just hard in a “I need to get away, I can’t handle the pressure anymore, if anyone else cries or screams, or stop listening, I’m going to lose my cool”. Sometimes it’s hard in a “I just want to sit on the couch and eat nachos and watch tv, but instead I have to create some fuckin’ Easter Magic up in here.”

But you always do it. You always create that fucking magic. You get your ass off the couch and you write that note from the bunny and you bite that carrot so it looks like the bunny ate it, and if you’re really brave you make powder footprints around your house (spoiler alert: I’m not that brave. Or that masochistic. Who do you think is gonna clean that mess?! The bunny’s not gonna clean shit.) And then you deal with sugar loaded toddlers who are so overstimulated and then you deal with the inevitable sugar crash, and you smile and you play and wonder at the magic of it all.

Except sometimes it doesn’t feel like magic. It feels overwhelming and overstimulating and you know you have to keep your cool because you want them to feel that magic, you don’t want them to remember holidays with a tarnish on it. So you hide in the back and you take timeouts in the bathroom to breathe because if you have to wipe one more chocolate handprint off your couch or calm one more crying toddler who’s been told he’s had enough chocolate or if you hear Mom come play with me! Mom, can you get this? Mom, do that! Mom! Mom! Mom! you are going to lose your ever-loving shit and then no one is happy and that makes you feel even worse. So you smile. And you drink coffee. You put on Easter cartoons and you ignore the chocolate handprints (might as well just clean the fucking couch once instead of over and over). You think back to your own childhood and wonder if your mother ever felt like this. And then you make plans to discuss all of this in therapy in two days 🤣

Holidays are when I miss myself the most. When I feel the loss the hardest. I know others who are grieving their loved ones, and I’m sympathetic. I’m grieving myself. I’m not sure which one is harder. The one where you know you won’t even see them again, or the one where you are scared of that exact outcome. These are the days that I force myself to confront my deepest fear – what if this is it? what if this is how I am now? What if I never go back to being patient, or having fun, or able to play? How am I going to be the parent that I want to be if this is all there is? What do I do then?

Seriously. What do I do then?

That bunny owes me some chocolate.

Different Actions, Same Intentions

My challenge from therapy this week was to put myself out there more. Challenge my negative thoughts more. Be more open to possibilities. Here’s how it went:

  1. Try to initiate more sex with hubby – or at least be more vocal and up front about when you want it and encourage the actions you want to have more of.
    Result? My period started the morning after he came home. It’s the first one since I got preggo with L., so it’s not really an area I want any contact with at the moment. Nothing is going there that isn’t absorbent. Nuh uh. Nope. Not unless you want to get shredded by the cheese grater currently attacking my uterus.
  2. When you get negative thoughts about your body image, counteract them with something positive. So, I asked a friend to come to a yoga class with me. It was a low-intensity class, as per Covid regulations, and I figured it would be a good way to ease back into yoga in a group setting where other people could see me. It was my closest girlfriend, so there’s no worry there about judgement, but I also invited a new friend, one who does spin class and has no babies and has that tight little body that I have never, EVER had so I was intimidated. What is she going to think about my flabby arms and my gut that hangs over my tights when I bend.
    Result: the class was actually…easy. I took the harder option every pose, and I could get pretty deep into the stretches. I was so proud of myself. I could feel that muscle memory from all the nights of yoga I’ve been doing. So yeah. I might not be losing any weight, but my flexibility has grown, and my muscles are slowly getting stronger. That’s my mantra. The weight will come with time. I just have to be patient, like I said I would be back in January but am struggling to keep now.
  3. Get more into the zones of regulation with G. and start to find strategies that help her (and I) get back to regulated
    Result: We ended up watching Inside Out, as per the recommendation of my counsellor. And we talked a little bit about how Anger is the red zone, when you feel like you’re going to blow your top any minute. Fear is yellow, when you’re twitchy and worried and you can’t seem to calm yourself. Joy is green, when it’s all happy and bubbly. And Sadness is blue. She seemed to kind of get it, but also to not care that much. But the idea is there. We also talked about how all the emotions are good, but we can’t let one dominate over the other. We have to feel all of our feelings but not let them take over. We’ll see how that plays out once Daddy goes to camp and Mama’s home alone with the kids for four days straight.

It’s been a good week, all in all. Shane is helping more around the house because our dishwasher broke and my eczema is too bad on my hands to do dishes. G. has been playing more with Daddy because she lost tv time due to some misbehaviour at bed time. L. is miserable because he’s teething but what else is new, it just means he wants to snuggle more. I’ve been coasting, it almost feels like. I feel like I’ve stepped back and just let Shane take over most of the parenting duties, sort of. Or not parenting duties, but house duties. He’s been doing the majority of the cleaning, he plays with the kids. I do bedtime, I do the morning routine, I pick up the kids from school and take them to all of their appointments and cook their meals, remember who needs a bath and who needs their hair washed and what we need from the grocery story. It’s getting more and more even, which makes it feel like I’m slacking because I’ve been doing all of everything for so long. It’s hard to let go, or at least to let myself let it go. Mama is the only identity I’ve been holding on to for so long that I’m finding it hard to step back and trust that it’s okay to let my husband do some of the cleaning and some of the parenting. I can’t do it all. It’s okay to take time away in my office and write, or go to the basement and go for a run on the treadmill, or go out for a drink after a yoga class with girlfriends. I’m not a bad mom or neglecting them. I’m not dumping them on my husband to get away. It’s okay to take that time, because for so long I haven’t allowed myself. I’ve always been too scared of what would happen when he leaves again, and I have to start taking it all on again. I want to say that I”m storing up some me time for when I don’t have any, but there’s that little inner voice that says I’m doing it for the wrong reasons, that I’m just finding a different way to escape them. Rather than hide behind my phone, I’m hiding in my office. Different actions, same intentions.

So how true is it? Am I finding a way to give up some control, take back a bit of myself again, or am I just disengaging in new ways? Something to bring up at tomorrow’s session, I guess.

Til then, cheers bitches.

The End of An Era

I signed my baby up for kindergarten today. How wild is that? I know everyone says it, but it’s true. It literally feels like she was this little two year old with the sweetest voice and the biggest laugh, and now she’s four and a half and I’m trying to decide between Francophone school or French Immersion. How did that happen? It feels like I missed a step somewhere in there or something. Some transition from my little tornado to this big kid whose emotions I can’t always understand and whose needs are way more complex than snuggles and sunshine and cartoons and Kraft Dinner. Someone that I always seem to say the wrong thing to, or do the wrong thing, or react the wrong way to. She’s not my little partner in crime any more, and I think we are both missing that. It doesn’t help that her brother is the age I remember her best, and its tough to watch him and not see the changes in her, to see how she’s grown and changed. It’s not always a bad thing, she’s funny as hell, and so helpful, and very sweet. There’s just some things that are… less pleasant. The fibbing. The attitude. Constantly repeating herself until she gets what she wants. Things that make me want to tear my hair out and things that make me lose my temper and my cool and yell, which makes her withdraw and then my heart breaks because I never used to yell at her ever. Even when she pushed my patience, I never yelled. And now she’s big enough for kindergarten and I already see her growing more distant with me almost.

I don’t want that.

I want my partner in crime back. I want my little bestie back. This means some changes for me. Making time with her more of a priority, and less time zoning out. I need to draw a line and make more time to focus on her, to be more present, to take advantage of what little time I have left before she goes to school and the world claims her as its own. She needs to know she’s still mine even when she isn’t anymore. I don’t want her to have the relationship I had with my mother, where I was scared to ask for anything, where I couldn’t openly talk to her about anything. It’s only recently that we’ve been communicating better, and even still I don’t share a lot of what’s going on in my personal life with. There’s been way too much judgement in the past. I can’t be fully open about my life and my struggles. It just doesn’t feel like she’s fully there for me in a way that I need her to be. That’s my fear for G. I don’t want that for us. I want us to be open about stuff. I want her to talk to me, to spend time with me. I don’t want her to be scared to communicate with me, or withdraw from me. That would be the ultimate heart break. Then I wonder if my own mother has these feelings. If she felt the same building disconnect, if she was heart broken too, or if she was just so busy with all of us kids that she was just trying to survive the day, and didn’t have time to worry about our relationships.

I talk about these kinds of things with my therapist. I talk motherhood, I talk about feeling like I’m failing at meeting some unknown standard of motherhood. I watch a friend share posts that paint her as the perfect stay at home mom – Don’t be scared of the mess! Even if you yelled you’re still a good mom! Look at all these activities your children should be doing! Look how my 3 year old is writing! – and even though I know better, it still feels like “I have the same, if not more education that you. I have much much much more experience on the floor than you. I have the same amount of kids as you, our husbands are gone the same amount of time (except not anymore, since her husband now works from home so she isn’t flying solo anymore) why are you able to pull this together and I’m not?”
Then I remember. I have postpartum depression and anxiety issues, and you do not. You will never know what it feels like to have the world go dark because you’re just so angry that your three year old won’t sleep. You will never yell at your child because you just want 5 minutes to look at your phone and zone out but in reality it’s been over an hour and your children have just been watching cartoons while being completely ignored. You’ve never had to hide your car keys because you were scared that you would just walk out one night and drive away. So there are added barriers to what I can and cannot reasonably accomplish in my day. Every day that I don’t yell is a good day.

And therein lies my sadness. That this is how G. grew up. This is the mother that she remembers. She doesn’t remember the happy mama, the one that splashed in puddles with her and played in the snow and built lego and played dolls. She just knows the mama that’s unpredictable. The one that loses her temper and snaps and doesn’t want to play much anymore. And that shit stings. So now I’m registering my baby for kindergarten and all I can think is do we have enough time left? Is there enough time to fix the damage I’ve done to us? Will I be able to love you enough before you’re off and in the wide world?

I Did It

I finally made the call.

I officially start the intake process tomorrow to start seeing a new therapist, and I am fucking terrified.

The last time I went to therapy, it wasn’t great. I cried a lot, she taught me some breathing techniques, and that was about it. Then covid hit, and we went to phone appointments, and that was such a waste of my time that I faked getting better and stopped making appointments. It wasn’t a full fake, I really was making progress. G. and I were starting to bond again, I was making a point to focus fully on her and make her feel important, not like she was an afterthought behind her brother. The sun was shining again, and I was starting to feel more myself, in a way. I wasn’t raging like I had been, I was better able to calm myself. I was able to find some fun again. I actually laughed for real. My sex drive was coming back. However, I still wasn’t sleeping, I still was overeating. The further we went into the fall, I could feel myself crumbling under the weight of a challenging new classroom, the lack of sleep from insomnia and working full time with two kids, neither of whom would sleep through the night, and just general weariness. I could feel myself shutting down again, avoiding life again. I stopped contacting people – one girl at work told me she thought I really didn’t like her because I had such a hard time responding to her trying to start conversations. I just couldn’t fake it long enough to make it through basic niceties.

I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be the one that no one wants to talk to because they can’t hold a conversation, or they have nothing to add. I don’t want to bring everyone down with me.

So, after talking to my husband, and after we decided to start trying for another baby, I just felt like I needed support. I don’t want to be like this any more. I’ve been noticing G. starting to act out, starting to show anxiety when she would get into trouble at school, lying about petty things, and not wanting to play, just to watch tv. All day long. This was my biggest fear come true. My depression and anxiety were starting to wreak havoc on her and that was my biggest trigger. That how I’m broken was breaking her, and that was the last thing I EVER wanted to happen. She wasn’t my happy, playful, silly little girl anymore. She was sullen, she was withdrawn, she either was over the top crazy or completely shut down. I don’t want that. I can’t have that. I miss my girl. I’m so scared that a new pregnancy – if we’re lucky enough to get another – will drag me right back into the mire. I need help keeping my head on straight so that I don’t mess up both my kids in the process.

So. Tomorrow I start therapy again. I’ve been warned by a friend that this new group of doctors I’m trying is intense, it’ll be hard work. I’m okay with that. I need hard work. I need something to show that I’m progressing. Teaching me how to breathe is great, but I need more. I want more. I’m scared of intensity but in a good way. It’ll be good for me.

Right?