Last night, I snapped.
Yesterday was my first day totally on my own – husband gone from early ’til late, me alone with a boob-chomping infant and, for the latter part of the day, after daycare, a spirited toddler – and I just couldn’t do it. I made it until dinnertime and then – nips and nethers aching badly, infant squalling endlessly for more booby more booby more booby, toddler chucking her pizza to the floor, stripping off her clothes and embarking upon her own, unsuccessful, toilet-training regimen (a story that might be funny in another lifetime but cannot even be recounted here in barest outline because I will start crying again) – I snapped. Snapped.
Which means, only, that I ended up immobilized in the corner with infant fastened like a vise to my ravaged boobies, sobbing helplessly and uncontrollably while my beautiful and entirely naked daughter laid waste to our living and dining rooms. I stayed there and sobbed until HBF walked in the door and took charge. Then I went to bed – infant still clinging to tit with his gummy iron grip – and wept until I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t fling myself under a bus, I didn’t have quote-unquote intrusive thoughts – I just collapsed under the weight of the feeling, however misguided, that I cannot do this, not on my own. That however much a blessing is the birth of this most-beloved boy – and it is, truly, the greatest blessing – it is overwhelming. That however capable and sane I think I am, that capability and that sanity crumble under the weight of pain and stress and the awful, terrible feeling of maternal helplessness.
I know that these are extreme circumstances – I’m recovering from a physically traumatic childbirth, I’m struggling with breastfeeding, my husband is away from home for long hours, and I have a history of PPD – and that I’m doing the best that I can. I know that this is different from the first time, when I just got anxious and sad and huddled in the dark feeling lost and alone. I know that I’m not lost, that I’m not alone. But the painful difference, this time, is precisely this: I am not alone. As I huddle in the corner, infant clutched to breast, sobbing uncontrollably, I have a companion, and a witness: my daughter. Who understands that tears mean pain and fear and sadness. Who worries for her Mommy. Who, last night, in the fray, shushed her brother loudly, saying don’t hurt Mommy. Who asked, do I hurt you Mommy?
Oh, sweetie, it’s not you, you haven’t hurt Mommy; Jasper hasn’t hurt Mommy; neither of you hurt Mommy, not ever. It’s just… a special kind of Mommy-hurt… but it’s okay. Mommy’s okay.
Truth, and lies.