Confessions: Drowning

Note: This is a very raw, honest post, written in reflection of how I felt at a very low point in this week. I feel good now, but also know more hard days will always be ahead. Please be kind in the comments.

He’s asleep in my arms, his sweet, bald baby head resting on my bare chest. He’s milk-drunk and sighing heavily in his sleep. There’s music on the radio and his big sisters dance, tiptoe, twirl, and giggle their way across the living room floor while I sit and watch, enjoying this quiet, perfect moment in time. To an outsider, some stranger standing on our porch and peering through the kitchen window, we must look straight out of some made-for-TV movie, happy and carefree and living everyone’s idyllic fantasy.

But what no one knows is that, this week, I have yelled at these children. All three of them. I have yelled, screamed, cried, sobbed, begged God, prayed, and swore silently and aloud to whoever would listen. Maybe because we were sick last week, or because it’s almost a full moon, or because of some other unknown force at work, we have been a disaster here for days now. Every last one of us. My five-year-old is doing everything in her power to make the rest of us miserable, snatching toys from her sister just because she can, running from the room as soon as she realizes I’m going to ask for her to grab me a burp rag, just generally being an impolite, insufferable little brat. My two-year-old, sweet, gentle angel that she is, has become a wailing, viscious she-devil who flings her bowl of applesauce across the room at breakfast and lunch because she doesn’t want me going to the bathroom while she eats. And the baby? Poor, defenseless, snot-nosed little thing whom I was just bragging about because he sleeps from 10pm to 10am every day? Well, he is proving to the world what a comedian he is as he now wakes at all hours of the night, screaming at the top of his lungs, and then refuses anything more than a thirty-minute nap during the day.

And I have lost my mind over it. I have said to the baby, “Well, you’re just going to have to cry because I’m not picking you up this time,” even though I didn’t mean it. I have wished away all the years ahead of me of hugs by chubby arms and toddler lips saying, “Me love MomMom” just so that they would grow up and all this madness could be over with. I have thrown more than one adult tantrum. The rage that I have felt has scared me. I could have hurt my children. I didn’t — thank God, I knew enough to stop myself before I reached that point — but I could have. I wanted to. And afterwards, as I rocked our sweet baby boy to sleep yet again, I said to my husband, “This is how it happens. This is how babies get shaken or thrown across a room. Parents just can’t take anymore.” I understood.

I hate myself for that. I hate that I understand. I hate that I can’t handle as much as I thought I could, and that I reached my breaking point so quickly. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? I wonder. And what about the fourth baby that I yearn for? The fourth, and maybe the fifth and sixth? (Because even at the lowest point, I’m still thinking ahead. Still wanting more.) How do moms do this? Is it just me? Am I the only one flailing in these choppy waters of parenthood?

There are days when I hate this mothering gig. I know I shouldn’t. My ovaries don’t work and we fought so damn hard to get here, to have three children call us “MomMom” and “Daaaaaad.” I should be thankful. I should soak it in. I should cherish every moment of it. And I do. Mostly. When it’s good, it’s good. The kids sleep and snuggle and laugh and say “Thank you” on cue. We go to the zoo and the park and read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” and eat unbaked cookie dough. I take photos (lots and lots of photos) and the kids smile and we put the photo in a frame and we remember the good times with warmth and a lot of love.

But the good times don’t make the bad times any easier. The kids scream or cry all at once. My girls won’t share. Someone is up all night, needing me. No one likes what I put on the dinner table. The baby requires constant bouncing, wiggling, tickling, and rocking all day long, day after day after day. And over and over again, I trip over a tornado of toys and swear I’m going to throw every last one of them in the trash because I just can’t stand the thought of picking up one more Disney princess figurine or itty-bitty lego. I’m tired and in over my head. At the worst of times, that’s the truth: I am in way over my head. I’m drowning. And there’s no going back. No, undoing this. No fixing it. Somehow, I just have to suck in a lungful of oxygen when I can and keep doggie-paddling and hope that’s enough.

But here’s what I fear: It’s not. Surviving isn’t thriving. It’s not enough. Not for my kids and not for me. I’m a failure. I’m defeated. I’m weak. My kids deserve better. All the ugly things I tell myself…the list is long. I’m a bad person. There’s something wrong with me. I should be punished. I am worthless. It gets worst and worst.

And yet, behind each one, there is another voice. The voice of reason. What I hope is the voice of truth. A whispered echo of hope and redemption that says:

Tomorrow is a new day.

Tomorrow, you can do better.

And I will. Or at least, I will try.

I will always try.

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20 thoughts on “Confessions: Drowning

  1. Omg you should so submit this to Scary Mommy! It’s so well written! And real and raw. I love younfor sharimg this. And I applaud your strength! 3 young kids is haaaard. I mean, 1 is! I am playing single mom right now because of husband work obligations and it’s so exhausting with just 1! Right now the kitchen is a mess, the laundry isn’t done… I just can’t physically do it all. The only thing not keeping me up at night with worry (funny though I am up at 4 because pregnancy) is that the au pair is coming in less than a month. I am SO looking forward to having an extra set of hands. A helper. Is there someone who can help you? For even just a few hours every other day? You deserve it. Seriously. This shit aint easy.

    • Thank you for all the kind words! And for the Scary Mommy encouragement. I just may do that. You inspire me! And a nanny is going to rock your world in the best kind of way. That extra pair of hands will be priceless.

      • I think so too. I seriously don’t know how you are not bat shit crazy right now with all you have on your plate! My whole world revolves around Daphne, can’t imagine divinding that attention between two, let alone 3. Amazing sure, but also so stressful!

      • I definitely have my bat shit crazy moments…hence, this post! 🙂 1, 2, or 3 kids (or more)…it’s all hard no matter what. Worth it of course (though I had trouble remembering that this week)…but really hard. That’s why I’m so thankful for the support of awesome mommy friends like yourself. We need each other!

  2. I have been there. I understand how you feel. You aren’t alone. Try to take some time for yourself. Get out of the house. Breathe. Any mom who is always trying to be better is a good mom, and my dear, you are a great mom. Praying for you. Thank you for being honest-so many people never see this side of mommy hood.

    • Thank you. It felt scary to put it into words, but a relief too. And as soon as i did, I realized I needed to do exactly as you suggested — get OUT. Alone. It had been so long since I’d taken time away except to grocery shop. So last night, I went to a coffee shop, sipped a coffee, and read a book. It felt so good!

  3. I think every single thing you experience and describe is normal and that every mom at some point has these days. It doesn’t make them less hated or guilt-inducing. It doesn’t even make them okay. It just means they happen. But you know what makes you a really really good mommy? You recognize the bad days and hope for better tomorrow. You realize that you don’t really want them to be 18 years and moving out forever… You just want them to be nice, quiet, well behaved, whatever. I’ve had that thought, both for only a second before I’ve regretted it, and for a week at a time and thought for sure I meant it. And I have a job to escape to, you my strong mommy friend, don’t. I cant imagine. You are strong and amazing and this too shall pass, come back, and pass again. All perfectly normal. Acceptable. And okay. Hugs!

    • Thank you for these words. It’s awesome to feel validated. To know I’m not alone. It’s crazy how lonely it can feel in the moment and then, in the light of day when the storm has passed, you see that every mom is just going through the same thing. Thank you for reminding me of that!

  4. I only have two, but I’ve felt very similarly to you. It got to the point where I hated everything so much, I wanted to run away with one of my children when we were on holiday. I’ve been doing a PND therapy course using new ways of thinking and it’s been super helpful. The biggest thing I took, before the process of trying to change my thoughts, was that I still exist. I am still a person and I’ve been working really hard since then on finding time to do things for myself. I think far more mums think/feel/act like you’ve described but they think it’s wrong and don’t share, they then surround themselves in guilt. Honest blogs are only going to help.

    We took three years and fertility treatment to conceive our first and immediately after he was born, I was insufficient and a failure. Someone even told me that I couldn’t complain as I’d wanted to be a parent. I took that to heart. Until I started reading others’ blogs. You can hate any part of anything and still love it dearly. You can complain about anything and wish it were different, because one day it will be different. Take care, P x

  5. I have felt this way so many times! This mommy gig wasn’t meant to be done alone, but because of circumstances or modern life or whatever, that’s exactly what so many of us try to do, and there are times when we just have to have a break or help. I hope you have someone who can give you that. Hugs, friend.

    • Thank you! I wish we had family closer who could lend a hand…I know you know how that feels. Thankfully, I do have a wonderful husband who comes home from work, 100% ready to jump in, entertain the kids, and let me breathe. And he always happily lets me have a night out if that’s what I need…I had just been forgetting to ask for it until recently. Hope you are well, friend!!

  6. I can relate to these feelings so much. I’ve felt overwhelmed and enraged at times and I have only one. Hormones, sickness, and lack of sleep are almost always to blame. It’s a tough job and coming from IF makes you feel like you aren’t entitled to have any negative feelings.

    I can assure you though that you are still an awesome mother! Cut yourself some slack because you are your worst critic. Hugs to you!

  7. I only have 1 kid and I definitely have felt this way. Especially more recently now that I am pregnant and exhausted. My husband was just gone for essentially two weeks for work and sh*t got real at home. You are definitely NOT a failure and sound like you are doing a great job during a very stressful time!

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