Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Can We Not?

I'm in a weird place. I should just tell you that right from the beginning here. There's so very much going on inside my head right now. As my daughter would say, you don't even want to know because it's scary in there.

I'm struggling with post partum depression but even more so with anxiety right now. I am at a point where I'm barely leaving the house and I'm completely okay with that...which is more concerning than anything else honestly.

I like it here in my cave.

I'm not writing much these days for a few reasons. The main reason is that I'm just too busy with everything involved with taking care of a newborn again. Since I know that he is my last one, I'm really sitting with it, all of it. Drinking it in, the good, the bad and the ugly, because I know that I'll never be here again. He wants me to just hold him while he cries sometimes, and I get that.

Sometimes I just want someone to hold me while I cry.

Here's this. For no reason other than it makes me happy.
I'm busy and distracted, sure, but it's more than that. I'm questioning why I'm writing these days, wondering what the point of this all is. It doesn't help that it's tax time, the time of year when I get the inevitable "how much did you make writing last year?" question that reminds me just how little this profession pays at times.

I need to work on my books.

But I have the attention span of a gnat right now. I can't focus on anything. Throw in all the uncertainty going on in my life right now, and it's a wonder that I get a shower on the days that I do.

The baby has taken to insisting that he hold my hand when he is nursing, which I am fine with. It's sweet and lovely and is firmly rooting our bond even more. It just makes it even less likely that I can ever be online because I used to scan Facebook and update my page when he was nursing.

In the few moments I've had to actually read anything online (because there's no way I have time to write most days), I've just wanted to throw things. So many of the stories and blog posts and articles I'm seeing make me angry. Some of them hurt in ways that I haven't even fully identified.

There's this epidemic of mommy wars posts again, some of which is being perpetuated by the measles outbreak currently happening. I'll save you my long diatribe on the subject, but suffice to say that my children (even the one who reacts to vaccines) are fully vaccinated, that herd immunity is actually a thing, that the fact that immunized people can still contract disease doesn't imply that the vaccines don't work, that measles can have some devastating side effects, that there are children out there who rely on herd immunity for protection because they cannot be immunized (like my youngest child who is too young, like cancer patients, like children with allergies to components, like kids with autoimmune disorders). I have a long background in patient advocacy and autonomy, but I've also studied public health and epidemiology. Sometimes your health isn't just about you or your children or your family. Period.

Anyway, the mommy wars are in full swing again. Normally, I can tune them out pretty well, but since I'm right in the thick of PPD, it's rattling my cage. I'm sick to death of these posts about what we should do and how we should feel and how we should parent. I'm sick to death of people chastising others for doing things differently. I'm sick of women declaring in one breath that they support all mothers, but in the next insulting some of them categorically. I'm sick to death of people believing that their opinions should rightfully be imposed on other people.

No, we aren't all going to be happy all the time.

No, we aren't all going to have this glorious maternal instinct thing kick in immediately.

No, we aren't all going to bond with our babies instantly.

No, we aren't all going to.

Stop acting like we're supposed to, like we've somehow failed if we don't.

There is a fundamental difference between sharing your story and your experiences and your anecdotes and what worked for your family and acting as though any of that should hold relevance for others. Just because something worked for you does not under any circumstances mean that it would be the right choice for someone else.

It's not about you.

I promise.

Stop telling me how I should or shouldn't feel about every single goddamn aspect of parenting.

Can we not insist that other mothers mother the way we do?

There was a post last week or the week before that kept floating by my newsfeed about the relationship that mothers have with their adult children. I saw it shared more than once, and I finally gave in and read it. It was one of those posts that you could just tell was complete and utter bullshit, but then I'd guess you'd only be able to see that if you'd lived through something similar.

Essentially, it was written by the mother of adult children who've distanced themselves from her. About how she tried, how she did her best, how she doesn't understand why they won't talk to her.


I have some ideas.

Those who haven't been through this shit seem to believe that the choice to cut someone out of your life, particularly your mother, is a decision that anyone can arrive at lightly and arbitrarily. That is most certainly not the case. I know because I lived it. I was put in the position, by my mother, of having to choose between my children and her. I wasn't there of my own volition, I didn't want to be there, I wish I'd never been there. I wish I had an uncomplicated and happy relationship with her rife with adequate boundaries and unconditional love and the things that parent/child duos are supposed to have.

I didn't get that.

A lot of us didn't.

Don't insist that I'm somehow damaged or flawed or at fault for the circumstances of that relationship. We're born into the families we are born into, we don't get to choose that, just like we don't get to choose the mental illnesses that run through our family trees, we don't get to choose whether someone is a narcissist or borderline. We don't.

How about this? How about instead of categorically agreeing with clearly slanted posts such as that one, the one written by the mother who just couldn't fathom why her kids had cut her out, how about we give them the benefit of the doubt for at least a moment? How about we recognize that we're only getting one side of a story?

Says the girl who has been disowned by half her family because of this exact kind of situation in which no benefit of the doubt was ever extended.

Life isn't simple. It's rarely ever black and white, but shades of gray make people uncomfortable. It's easier to vilify others. It's easier to say that what we know is true and right and what others do or think is wrong.

It's just unfair and inaccurate.

Can we not make assumptions about people based on one version of a tale?

Can you tell that I'm sick of feeling like I need to defend myself?

I am.

And maybe that's why I'm okay with not writing right now.

Speaking of which, I'm being paged. The baby needs me...and right now, I need that.


  1. I have a lot to say on this but I can't say any of it publicly. But you know what I want to say, you know why I want to say it, and you know where I'm coming from. <3

  2. Plus one Starr, plus one.. Thank you for writing this!

  3. It is what it is but it ain't fair. Thanks again for putting words to it. That isn't easy.

  4. Jennifer Fortune SteuerJanuary 29, 2015 at 2:44 PM

    I agree with you. Too many moms out there putting anyone who is not like them down. The newest mommy wars make me sad. I, too, am in my last round of being a mom. My babies are seven. I am a SAHM who is almost never home.
    The only person who can judge you is you. I have this on a post-it on my mirror. Someday I will believe it. Thank you for posting this. I hope other women out there will read and understand.

  5. Brava.

    It will be interesting to see how many of those Mommy Wars bitches are on speaking terms with their kids in 20 years, won't it.

    I'll be the one in the cheap folding chair, with a bowl of popcorn and a margarita. I'll save you a space. Xo


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