My dearest Artemis,
Everyday, you save me from a thousand silent deaths. Thank you for giving me the courage to breathe deeply and slowly. You are my greatest and most profound gift.
Mami loves you, always and always.
I never really felt loved as a child. Perhaps, this is the sentiment of many middle children – the older kid gets the attention, and when it’s your turn, another kid is born.
As excited as I was to be a big sister when my baby brother was born, I felt cheated by the lack of attention my mother was able to afford me.
Naturally, then, when my daughter was born, I, often, feared that she would feel as unloved as I did growing up.
I felt like I had to spend every waking moment of my day by her side, and needing a break or leaving her with someone else was selfish. After all, I birthed her. She was MY responsibility, right? And, I wanted her to feel loved!
Regardless of how far feminism has come, women are still the primary parents, in my experience, during the early stages of child development. I’ve discussed many times why I believe this to be the case.
Some reasons are:
1. Many men have not been socialized to be caregivers.
2. Many men feel incompetent taking care of young children.
3. Some men just feel like it’s the mother’s responsibility.
4. Some men aren’t present.
5. Even when the dad is present and wants to help, the baby wants mommy, anyways.
All of the reading and mommy blogs do not prepare you for the transition from living as an individual to having a small human being be 100% reliant on you for everything at ALL times of the day.
What does this really mean?
Being a mom is HARD, and it’s a lot of work.
The days of peeing and/or pooping in peace are long gone. Much of your spontaneity is lost, and your sense of adventure is limited by your need to always be prepared to meet the needs/demands of your baby.
Naturally, after 16 months of nonstop, around the clock baby time, I began to feel worn out.
Well, let me back up a little bit. It was not being a mom that made me feel worn out. It was juggling starting my own business (Organic Melinda), writing and editing L.I.V².E., marketing, applying to PhD programs, and learning that I had spinal injuries ON TOP of being a mom that overwhelmed me.
So, a few days ago, after not sleeping for a few weeks to get the book together, I had a little break down. I had to work around the clock and through the baby’s naps and sleep time to complete the project. I mean, seriously, I am blogging now at 5:30 a.m. while my daughter plays with my hair to soothe herself back to sleep.
I called my sister crying because I, actually, (God Forbid) doubted my decision to be a mother for a moment.
I had a particularly rough day.
My daughter’s father was out the entire day, and I was trying to listen in on a workshop about how to better build an internet company. At the same time, I was communicating with people about how we could market L.I.V².E., and my daughter was having one of her “mommy hold me all day, every day” moments.
So, there I was, sitting on a computer chair, listening to a talk, emailing, and I had my daughter in my arms.
On top of all of that, I discovered that I have nerve damage in my left arm a couple of weeks ago, which sucks doubly, because I am left-handed. I had received physical therapy in my arm to start healing the nerve damage.
And, of course, my daughter in all of her toddler glory decided that she did not want to lean against my chest. NOPE. She was going to put all of her body weight on my left arm, which was causing me excruciating pain.
So, once again – I was sitting at my computer desk, listening to a chat on web marketing, sending emails, and holding my daughter who was causing me a ton of pain.
I tried to reposition her like 20 times, before I just got pissed off, and I put her on the floor.
She was letting out her banshee, toddler, how dare you not hold me screams. Just non-stop, and the exhausted human side of me just wanted to scream, SHUT THE EFF UP!
But, I didn’t.
Instead, I took out my frustration on the lecture by turning it off and cried with her. Begging her to please just stop crying.
Mommy is trying to hold you, babeh, but you’re causing mommy a lot of pain. Just calm down, my love. Please. I beg you. You are hurting momma, and that’s not nice.
I mean, there I was trying to rationalize with a 17 month old begging her to please relax while I, myself, was crying.
That’s what predated the call to my sister.
Please, take this kid. I cannot take it any more. Right now, I wish I had an….
What a shitty thing to say about the one person who I love most in the entire world.
I cannot even type it out, because I know that I do not feel that way. I know that while I advise women to please take their “me” time and not try to be a super hero, I was still trying to be one myself.
I cracked, and I felt and still feel like shit about the horrible thing that I said.
And, so, here I am blogging about it, because I know I am not the only woman who has said some shitty, shitty comment in a moment of utter and complete stress.
I knew my sister probably judged me, and thought I was a total bitch for my comment.
But, let’s be honest – being a working mom is really fugging hard.
I, literally, forwent showers last week, just because I couldn’t get to certain tasks and I would just pass out on the couch.
Following the terrible statement and the deep feeling of shame and guilt that I could ever utter such a thing about my daughter, who I love more than life, I realized that I really just needed to relax.
I took too much on too fast, due to the urgency of our financial situation and the fact that we are on the verge of homelessness.
I have to build Organic Melinda. I have to find a way to make the money that I need for my security deposit and to make sure we have a decent apartment to live in.
So, the solution – stop trying to do everything myself ALL at once. It’s not going to happen. I am just going to be frustrated, and my beautiful daughter is going to pick up on my energy and be antsy, too, which is probably why she wanted me to hold her nonstop all week.
Now, I am making sure to implement some rules for myself to ensure that I never utter a phrase like that, again.
1. Stop trying to do it all AT THE SAME TIME.
2. Ask for help.
3. It’s okay to cry.
4. Ask for help.
5. Put the work away and spend real quality time with my baby.
6. Ask for more help.
7. Create a work day for myself – no more around the clock tweeting, instagraming, etc.
8. Have faith.
9. Ask for help, again.
10. It’s okay to choose sleep when the only options are sleep or shower.
11. Talk to friends and family when frustrated.
12. It’s okay to need a break from your baby – I actually need one to regroup.
13. Remember that I am building Organic Melinda to secure our financial future.
14. Put the damn phone/computer down for a few hours a day.
15. I will not accomplish EVERYTHING, today.
I have to forgive myself for my flaws, and stop putting so much pressure on myself. I’ve begun by asking my mother to baby sit my daughter so that I can have some “me” time, which is a super big step for me.
I am setting up 1 item I want to accomplish for my business each day and working exclusively on that item.
Today, I put away the cell phone and computer and spent quality time with my daughter. Just the two of us – no interruptions. It resulted in us passing out on the couch together.
I asked my mom to baby sit for a couple of hours and I went to the gym.
The bottom line is that if you are exhausted and overwhelmed, you’re probably not going to be in the right state of mind to provide for your child’s needs.
I am giving myself permission to take a break from my mommy duties when I need it.
I am forgiving myself for that horrible moment and that horrible feeling and that horrible statement.
I am taking it one day at a time, one task at a time, one moment at a time.
My daughter will be a healthy, happy human being IF I am a healthy and happy mother.
So, say fuck it to the mommy guilt.
Go for a walk, and BREATHE.