Sweet bleeding Jesus, girl, you have had a rough stretch, haven’t you? I am so sorry. Life always has its hard times, but when they start to stack up the way they have, it can feel like the sturdy walls of your sanity are made of Jenga blocks and at any moment, your with-it-ness is going to come crashing down around your ears.
Well, I am standing here on the other side of those hard times and I want you to know that, as with all hard times, these too shall pass. You’re going to get through it. You are going to feel better, and soon. Just breathe.
Right now, you are standing in the shower weeping because your beautiful boy has chewed your patience down to the quick. He won’t stop making that sound, that grating, rattly, monotone whiiiiiiine that sets your teeth on edge and ignites a rage in your heart that scares you. He screams his way through every diaper change making you fear that his stomach is in turmoil again, that his ears must bother him when he’s lying down, that the wipes must irritate his bum all of a sudden, that something must be wrong. He only seems to want the things he can’t have (like your phone and the dog’s face and electricity) which makes you feel like all you ever do is bark “No!” at him. Even though you know he is going through a developmental leap and that his mood and behavior, while hellacious, are normal, you can’t stop thinking about running away.
Guess what. You won’t. And very, very soon, you’ll stop thinking that you have to. In fact, your boy is about to come through this exceedingly taxing leap and once he does, he’s going to be the sweetest, funniest, most interesting, most engaged and engaging, fun-to-be-around kid that he has ever been! He’s about to enter what will be your favorite phase of his little life so far! He will put blocks in a little saucepan and will stir them around with his fingers and it will be the funniest thing he’s ever seen. He will make toot sounds on the vinyl ottoman or your shoulder (what your family calls a sproggle and what the Cosbys called a zerbbit) and he will think it is the funniest thing since the blocks in the saucepan and the sound of his pealing laughter will ignite a joy in your heart that will soothe you. This fantastic little boy is on his way to you. Just hang in there. And breathe.
Right now, you are reeling from a crippling lack of confidence. Yet another parent has just posted something on Facebook trumpeting his parenting practice as the only way to raise a healthy kid and you don’t practice what he practices, so you must be doing irreparable damage to yours. Right now, you are feeling so inadequate that you are forgetting that just because someone declares something dogma doesn’t make it so. It’s just something that happened to work for someone else’s baby. You are too buried under emotional exhaustion to remember that there are only two experts on raising your boy and that friend on Facebook is not one of them. Right now, you don’t believe in yourself, so every move you make feels like a mistake, and every pair of eyes in the world look savagely red with with condemnation. Right now, you can’t remember why you wanted to be a mother. Right now, you don’t want to be one anymore.
Guess what. The intensity of those feelings will begin to fade soon. You’re going to have a nice exchange with that friend on Facebook and you are going to remember that pronouncements and conversations are very different things and that every single thing on Facebook needs to be taken with a grain of salt. You are going to start turning down the volume on Little Voice, that wretched bitchy internal monologue, and start listening to your kinder, gentler self. You are going to remember that you are doing the best you can and that your best is pretty damn stellar. You are going to remember that some days are total shit, and you have to just wash your hands of them and start fresh in the morning. You are going to remember that kids are resilient and that even though there is no escaping fucking him up, Boyo is a good baby and will be a good kid and a good man because you are a good woman and a good mother. Most importantly, you will remember that the very fact that you are tormented by these demons of doubt means that you care about doing things right and that care alone makes you, at the very least, a good enough mother. And some days, most days even, good enough is plenty. You may not believe me now, but you will. Breathe.
Right now, you feel victimized by your emotions. You would describe it as though you are being held hostage by your feelings. You have feelings about your feelings and thoughts about your feelings and feelings about your thoughts, ad nauseum, ad infinitum. You feel immobilized by emotion, as though its intensity has become flesh and is pinning you down with its hulking weight. Your paralysis terrifies you.
Guess what. Very soon, your best friend in the whole world is going to tell you that he’s never heard you sound so low and it scares him. You are going to sit on a bench in the middle of an outdoor shopping center on a beautiful day and you are going to call him and you are going to cry your face off and you are going to hear yourself put your feelings into words and you are going to realize that this is more than sadness, more than just feeling blue. You are going to realize that you need help. And you know what? You are going to get it. Right then and there, you are going to crack a joke about the appropriateness of having an mid-thirties existential crisis in front of a Talbots and you are going to get up, go home, and find out what kind of mental health benefits are covered by your insurance. You are going to pick a therapist because she has the same name as a character on Seinfeld because reading user reviews of therapists is ridiculous and you are going to call her and leave her an embarrassingly weepy, rambling message. And she is going to call you back and when you apologize for sounding like a crazy person she is going to say, “You just sound like someone who is hurting asking for help.” And you will believe her, because she’s right.
And after the very first session, you are going to feel better.
You are going to feel better.
Very soon, you are going to feel better.