Oh I do. I really do. I really, really do.
Maybe, to some folks, it might sound as though I'm a whiner because when I'm having a hard time I put it out there, and because I'm kinda critical of the mothering machine. And I talk about the hard stuff. Okay - I talk about the hard stuff a lot. Possibly ad nauseum. Maybe I'm even a one trick pony. Anyhoo...
From time to time, someone actually finds the kahunas to ask me if I'm aware of how lucky I am to have these beautiful, amazing tots of mine. Not too often mind you, and generally in a sideways sort of manner, but the jist of the question remains. But more often than this (thankfully), I hear folks make insinuations and judgements that all kinds of other folks must just not appreciate how blessed they are to have children. (Do they even like children? They just complain so much, etc. etc.)
These questions and insinuations are 1. unfair, and 2. meant to silence. They are a part of a larger cultural atmosphere that makes it unacceptable for parents, and I'm talking mothers in particular here, to talk about the ambivalence, the anger, the dark and twisty bits (yes, I stole that directly from Grey's Anatomy) of parenthood. Because we are supposed to at all times present a script which proclaims 'I am so blessed to have procreated so marvelously and fabulously and am so darned fulfilled by it all.' (Or else keep our mouths shut). And should we deviate even for a moment from said script, a prompt (and often gooey) verbal atonement re-proclaiming our commitment to that script is required.
Now - as you may or may not already know - I'm fairly lousy at the business of shutting up. I'm mouthy. As Gaga would say (and Lord I hate that song) - I was born this a-way. And I'm apparently not so good at maintaining 'the good mother script' either. But, all things being equal, neither am I immune to the considerable and sometimes unrelenting pressure to atone for one's mothering transgressions and deviations from the script.
So here's the thing:
I am hugely aware of how lucky I am to have these little beings in my life.
Being a mother is the only thing I have ever been certain of wanting. And way back about another lifetime ago, when L. and I got together, (at the age of 23 years old - was I ever that young?), I let her know in no uncertain terms that children were a deal breaker for me. No babies, no me. Fortunately for both of us, she hopped on board. (I'm told I can be pretty persuasive :)
It took us a long, long, agonizingly long time to get pregnant with Boy-o. Two years of rollercoaster. Two years of hope. Two years of agony. Two years of living life in two week intervals, vascillating between hope and increasing desperation, sometimes despair. Two years of wanting to be happy for friends who started trying after and got pregnant before me, but not really being able to. Two years of fertility clinics and doctors poking at me and in me and fertility drugs and stupid acupuncturists who poked me with needles and gave me strange shit to drink and said things like: "Why plant the seed if the garden is barren?" (Oh yes. Yes, she did say that. And yes, yes I did cry all the way home.) Two years of listening to songs like this, that turned me into a mess of tears every time and yet totally unable to stop myself. Two years of waiting and hoping and imagining and making all kinds of bargains with the universe. Girlio's conception was half of that time, and more bearable, perhaps because we knew we'd been able to struggle through it once. But our desire for her, our wanting and hoping for her no less intense.
So yes. Yup. Uh-huh. I am acutely aware of how blessed I am. It is the awareness of how lucky I am, of how amazing the gifts are that my children bring to this world, and to me, that make me so hard on myself, so fearful of failing them, so reluctant to put myself first, so ashamed to admit that I need more.
And it is the combination of my awareness of how lucky I am, and of how damaging the script of 'good mothering is,' that make the aforementioned questions and insinuations so insanely frustrating. The 'script', and the cultural insistance on maternal perfection, is damaging. Like really, actually damaging. And when we hold ourselves up to the ideal mother, who does not exist; and correspondingly, when we hold others up to the ideal mother, we participate in the very thing that negates our real experiences and the complications and intricacies of our lives. We hold ourselves to ever increasingly impossible ideals and when we fail them (when, not if, because they are not, in fact, possible), our frustrations mount, our anxiety grows, we lose our shit a bit, and our parenting actually gets worse because of it. Enter vicious cycle.
So - I'm a bad mama. Possibly also a bad-ass mama. I'm a whiner and a complainer and besides all that - this shit continues to be hard. The most difficult, most challenging, most emotionally charged thing I've ever, ever done. Probably the most difficult, most emotionally charged thing I will ever do. Maybe it's this hard because I'm not cut out for it. Maybe it's this hard because it's actually just this hard. Doesn't matter. I'm gonna keep talking about that. And while I'm sharing with the world (read: my fab 48 followers ;) just how much of a stir-crazy, frazzled, emotionally-wonky, train-wreck this mama is sometimes - I'll stand firm in my belief that none of that will ever negate the fact that I am so fucking lucky to have these little people in my world.