Monday, January 28, 2008

Thar be Dragons There

Inside of me, there is a deep and dark fear that I will lose my children. To sickness or accident or to my own carelessness or to someone else’s. I guess maybe for most moms that fear is not quite so deep. But for me I’ve held it deep and far away because I cannot handle the idea of it actually happening. The thought of it makes me want to curl up in a ball and disappear. I’ve always said that whatever the situation, I would figure out how to get through it and go on living life to the best of my ability. But I am not at all confident that I could just move on and get through losing a child. That’s why I’ve so vigilantly kept it buried deep where it couldn’t get at me.

But it surged to the surface this past Friday. My daughter got a quarter stuck in her esophagus. And a pediatric surgeon had to remove it via a surgical procedure. During which I was not allowed to stay in there with my screaming, choking baby girl. During which one of the nurses started screaming “Oh shit! Oh shit, she’s not breathing!” During which I alternately felt like I wanted to sit down in the hall outside the procedure room and give up and feeling like I could claw my way through the heavy wood door to get to her, to save her where this incompetent and insolent surgeon could not.

About 3 minutes after that declaration, they opened the door and handed her to me. Completely traumatized, covered in tears and snot and terror and I held her so tightly I was sure I would damage. While said arrogant surgeon made jokes about saving the quarter for our baby book to my husband. I wanted to thank him for saving our girl and then I wanted to punch him right in the nose so that he could remember for just a minute that he was actually human too.

I took her back to her room and nursed her immediately and she fell asleep almost as quickly. I just stared at her for about an hour until they discharged us. That night it took me forever to fall asleep because all I could hear when I closed my eyes was the “She’s not breathing!” part. So I retreated into a weepy chick flick and a fantasy book with the hope that I could just forget it since she was fine and healthy once again, sleeping soundly in her crib.

But I can’t quite get rid of it. Even now, 4 days later. It’s still with me and part of me is glad for it, because I don’t want to forget how fragile we all are and how vigilant I have to be as a mother. But part of me wants to bury that fear down deep again. Because it has a crippling effect, this fear. And I can’t live my life crippled in this way.

At the same time, this experience has really shown me how utterly and completely burnt out I am. I am just so very tired of everything. I’m tired of being a mom. I’m tired of working. I’m tired of taking care of the house. I’m tired of giving my all everyday and giving so much of myself to everyone I love and care about. I’m just tired. But I wouldn’t choose to live my life any other way. I just need a break. Some time to re-group and re-energize. And I don’t know how to do that. And it’s becoming clear that the hour here at the gym or the two hours there with friends for dinner is only serving to stave off the madness. That is what it feels like just under my surface. Utter and complete madness. Like I am going to scream at any time. Without warning and then it will be clear just how utterly crazy I’ve gone.

I’m taking all the action I can possibly muster in my life right now. I’m making changes to several integral parts of my life so that they become supportive and nurturing instead of energy sucking. I’m committing to regaining my physical healthy and feeling comfortable in my own skin again. I’m focusing on each task as it comes; when I am working, I am really working. When I am with my kids, I am really with my kids. But the madness is still there and getting louder all the time.

This brush with fear caused me to stop and take myself out of all my good intentions and changes for a day or two. And I’m realizing that the changes and the effort I’m making to lessen the madness have only served to bring my attention to how deeply the madness goes. How much work I have to do.

Maybe this kind of madness in endemic to being a mother. Perhaps the fear and the madness are tied to each other somehow. That motherhood ties them together as a coping mechanism of sorts. They keep each other in check so that we can actually have some semblance of functionality on a day to day basis. But if one rises then the other follows suit and we’re done for. That’s what I feel like right now. Done for. Like there is no end to the madness and there never will be and I better set to just sucking it up and getting over it.

Because the other option is to deal with it. And that is uncharted territory. Thar be dragons there. And I’m not feeling equipped to deal with dragons presently. Perhaps I’ll just stick to making it through the day first.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I just went to go see the movie Juno with a couple of girlfriends and now I’m feeling all wistful and weepy and weird. First of all, it’s ohmygod good and you should totally believe all the hype and go see it right now. Drop everything and go see it right now. I’m not kidding.

Second, it’s got me all flip floppy inside. Part of it could be my overall mental state these days which is going back and forth between totally determined and totally defeated. Part of it could be a serious lack of exposure to any kind of culture as of late and thus tonight’s exposure has caused some dust to be blown off of my intellect thus confusing the everyday, run haggard by life part of me. Part of it could be that I’m pretty flip floppy most days and I’m just really paying attention to it right now.

There’s one line when she says, “I don’t know what kind of girl I am.” And she’s 16, so of course she doesn’t really know who she is. But I’m 31 and still trying to figure out what kind of girl I am. I mean I started off in Catholic school with uniforms that so severely androgonized the entire student body you couldn’t always tell where the boys stopped and the girls began. Then moved into middle school when the big bangs were so in and discovered punk. Then high school brought me the epiphany of goth and granola and college encouraged me to find a mix of everything to suit any given day. But nowhere in any of that did I really figure out how to be a girl.

I mean I know how to flaunt my assets with the best of them. I know how to obsess about looks and weight. I know how to worship chocolate and dream about cute boys. But what kind of girl am I? I bought my first real tube of lipstick just about 10 days ago. I started caring what my brows looked like about 6 months ago. I started looking at the women who I’ve surrounded myself with and wondering how they do that. How do they always have pretty hair and makeup? How do they look put together when they are chasing a half naked screaming toddler through the park? Do they know what kind of girl they are? Or are they figuring it out as they go just like me?

I think the real problem is that I don’t even really know what kind of girl I want to be. I know what kind of model I want to show my children. I know what I want to teach my son – absolute respect under all circumstances. I know what I want my daughter to see as the most important feminine traits – absolute strength through nurturing. But what does that mean for my everyday life?

I think I’ve learned to focus on the tangible aspects of being a girl because those are the easiest things to see and change. Waxing your brows, dying your hair, getting a new pair of shoes are all things that I can wrap my head around. Defining my own femininity is just something that escapes me for some reason. Always has. I’ve never known how to just be a girl. I know it must sound strange. But I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s another element of my rebellion. Like there’s a subconscious part of me that sees being a girl as being strapped in by rules and expectations. So by not embracing being a girl, I’m somehow rebelling against those rules and expectations. But like a lot of my rebellion, it hasn’t gotten me anywhere profound. It’s just got me all flip floppy.

I know, I know. Modern women make up their own rules and be who they want to be. But I’m not at all sure I want to be a modern woman. I just want my children to be proud of me, my husband to adore me and my friends to respect me. Well, and being a smoking hot MILF wouldn’t hurt either.