At first I didn’t even realize it was missing.
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” – Rajneesh
I had never had the experience of being a mother before, so I didn’t know exactly what it was supposed to be – I just had my own expectations.
“Being a mom is the most rewarding experience you can ever have…You get to birth them into the world. Raise them right, see them grow…The first time they wrap their little arms around you and give you a tight hug… it is just all so wonderful.” – post on Yahoo! Answers
The first month I thought it had been given to me – the amazing experience of being a mother. I sensed my motherhood in his tiny hands, wispy hair and beautiful baby cheeks. I thought we had it figured out.
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Early in the second month, things started to be different. It wasn’t the start of my battle – I now realize that started much earlier – but during this time the thieves came and, bit by bit, stole from me.
He was fussy. He took a bottle for a while (freedom!) and then refused outright for months (despair). He didn’t sleep. He screamed and then he screamed some more.
I cried when he cried. I lay awake at night totally unable to sleep. I yelled at my husband. I went to play dates and pretended everything was fine but felt like an imposter.
“Nothing else will ever make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own.” – Marguerite Kelly and Ella Parsons
Why was this happening to me? Where did it come from? This was not the experience of motherhood I wanted to have. I didn’t want to be angry, frustrated, and sad. And so resentful. Resenting my experience of motherhood consumed me for months.
I look back on those days with love for him – so much love – but not the joy I had expected. The joy of motherhood had been stolen from me. Postpartum depression took it away.
“No one can go back and make a brand new start, my friend, but anyone can start from here and make a brand new end.” – Dan Zadra
Eventually, I accepted that things weren’t just going to get better. I had to ask for – and accept – help and after I did things got better for a while. And then worse again. Over nearly three years I’ve battled a series of ups and downs – waves that crashed over me again and again and finally coughed me up on the beach, spent.
“And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – JK Rowling
I’ve seen rock bottom – a place in me I thought didn’t exist. Thoughts I believed were for others to think, not me. I stared in the face of the easy way out and chose not to take it.
I have a child. I am a mother. This is my experience – the good and the bad.
Because of something I didn’t see coming, something that is not my fault, the experience of motherhood I wanted was stolen from me. And now I’m taking it back. It’s time to rebuild.
This post is non-fiction and written in response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club.
Write a post – fiction or non-fiction. Word limit is 600.