bad mothers

It’s been almost four years since I originally published this. I’m posting it again for a couple of reasons: one, because Katherine Stone has been fundraising for this tremendously important cause and so it’s been top of mind, but the kind of top-of-mind that I keep trying to push down, because there are ghosts here, and I don’t really have the emotional bandwidth for coping with ghosts. Which is why, I suppose, (and this would be reason number two), I completely broke down reading this piece by Pam Belluck in the New York Times. Messy, ugly, lock-the-office-door-and-crouch-behind-your-desk-weeping broke down, the kind of breaking down that you can’t – or shouldn’t – ignore. So I searched for this post, to remind myself that those aren’t ghosts – they’re memories, of fighting real monsters. And to remind anyone who wants or needs reminding that the monster isn’t us. We’re the monster-slayers. 

sleep_of_reasonIt was just one night, and one night, measured against the course of a lifetime, doesn’t seem all that significant. But it was a dark night, and I have never been able to shed the weight of the memory of it. I have never been able to put it, as they say, in perspective. I never will.

Jasper was not quite six months old. I had not slept in weeks. I lay awake as he stirred and fussed, bracing myself for the moment when I would have to rouse myself fully to nurse him or change him or soothe him. The darkness that night seemed particularly black, the kind of black that has a density, a weight. To say that it felt like it was closing in would be to use a trope that gets overused when writers are trying to describe dark nights and oppressive fear, but in this case it was true. The darkness was closing in on me like a heavy fog, like an army of ghosts, like a slick of oil, like night made solid and sinister. I couldn’t breathe. Jasper continued to fuss. I fought the dark.

I fought the dark. I think that I won. Even at the time, I wasn’t sure. I’m still not sure. Keep reading…

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On Being A Good Mother, In Spite Of It All

November 9, 2010

Before Emilia was born, I had a very clear plan about what kind of mother I was going to be. I was going to carry her with me everywhere in designer slings, I was going to hand-blend my own organic baby food, I was going to shun pacifiers, I was going to teach her sign [...]

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Love Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry For Taking Lots And Lots Of Benadryl

April 22, 2010

I’ve been meaning to post a list of the ten things that I love about motherhood. Having posted about the things that I hate – albeit with a corny post-script about loving the love, in spite of it all – and having read all the wonderful comments about the silly and sublime things that other [...]

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10 Things I Hate About Motherhood (And One That I Love)

April 20, 2010

A writer at Newsweek wrote last week about how her son – and the general state of being that is motherhood – is torturing her. Then a writer at Jezebel responded to the story with something very close to exasperation: “I was left, as I often am by pieces on parenting, at sea. Nowadays, there [...]

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A Spanking A Day Keeps Failure Away?

January 5, 2010

I’ve spanked my daughter. I wrote about it earlier this year. It was just once, and under very specific circumstances – she was putting herself and her baby brother in danger and she needed to be stopped, quickly – circumstances that don’t excuse the spanking but do, I think, explain it. I didn’t spank out [...]

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Confessions Of A Bad Mother

November 24, 2009

Yesterday, I took part in a televised discussion about so-called ‘bad parenting,’ shame and confession. I wore a lot of eyeshadow. I never wear eyeshadow, so I was really kind of embarrassed by it. Later, when I asked my husband what he’d thought of the show, he said, ‘you had some really good things to [...]

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