It’s been almost two weeks since Matthew left for his internship but all I really want to do is talk about that first week. Actually, all I really want to do is sleep and eat a meal not made by me and sleep some more. But I guess writing will have to do.
The first day was rough. Matthew left early in the morning before either kid was awake but I carried Ella downstairs for him to say goodbye to her. I’m not so heartless and sleep-training obsessed that I would deprive him of that. I’m glad I did, too, because it was Ella who hugged me as I cried quietly (am I the only one who hates getting emotional in front of their kids???). It was Ella who said, “It’s okay Mama. I miss Dada too.”
Fortunately, that made me smile and not just cry harder. It could have gone either way.
That was a Thursday. And I was sad. By Monday, a mere four days later, I was resentful. Furious. Changing every diaper, running every bath, answering every single one of Ella’s Why, Mama’s— if my wits began when I was born, they lasted exactly 28 years, 7 months, 2 weeks, and 5 days.
That was the Monday.
Nothing calamitous happened. No explosions or nuclear meltdowns. But a bomb had gone off in my brain and love, reason, and forgiveness did not survive. Anger at the situation and blame directed squarely at my husband took over. So every diaper change, every bath, every single one of my Just Because Ella’s had these poisonous feelings laced through them. And I couldn’t do my job. And when you’re a mom, the job is your life so really, I couldn’t live. Everything I did was a pain because I was fighting against it. Fighting against the injustice and the unfairness.
I could not go on like this. Ten weeks with the kids would be hard enough; taking care of them while possessed by this demon would be impossible. I thought all morning, talked to my little sister and my mom, and it was clear. I had to do the one thing that would set me free.
Let it go.
In the best of circumstances, when you’re a mother, it’s easy to feel taken for granted and like the scales aren’t balanced. You start counting what your partner’s doing and what you’re doing and when the numbers aren’t equal, resentment and frustration are frequent visitors. Maybe even tenants in your brain. Though they’re really more like squatters because they aren’t paying. Only you are.
I had to kick the squatters out. Anger feels powerful but it’s actually the weakest, most natural impulse and it only hurts the soul it inhabits. And I’m responsible for the well being of two other souls and I can’t risk them.
Deciding to let go of this irrational blame has already been the best thing. Tuesday was a completely different day. Still hard but I had one fewer enemy to battle. I stopped fighting. I stopped counting. When you’re the primary caregiver, I don’t think the scales can ever be balanced. And wanting them to be could just be the libra in me (astrology is real, don’t @ me) but I have to access the adult in me and the resilience I’ve earned after years as a stay at home mom. This job has been my life since I was 24 and every experience since then has combined to strengthen me for this season. I am stronger than my weaknesses. My kids need me to be, true, but I need to know that it’s true for myself.
I think we all need to know how strong we are so that we can face our challenges with confidence and let them make us stronger. Because this is not as bad as things get, not even close. We all have our hard things. My situation may seem easy to a lot of you. Or it might seem impossible and infuriating. As for me, I’m going to go with Ella’s view.
It’s okay, Mama.