I had a really rough day today. My baby cried and cried. It was hot and she was uncomfortable and her gums were hurting. She didn’t want to be held, but she didn’t want to be put down. She was exhausted, but didn’t want to sleep. I couldn’t help her. I was feeling so low and overwhelmed. I put me last. I wanted a glass of water for an hour before I could get myself one. I wanted my mother. I wanted her so badly today.
I fantasized about her coming over and taking the baby from me without uttering one word. She’d know what to do. She’d give me the look that would tell me she’s got this. I would go have a cool shower. I would have time to brush my hair and moisturize. I would come out, refreshed, and there they would be – my mom cuddling my daughter in the big blue armchair, reading her a story in her warm and quiet voice. I would smile, grateful for the break to make me feel like a human being again.
Thinking about all this, I had a realization. I don’t have any female family members or know of any in my husband’s family, that have raised a baby with as little help as I have. My grandma had her mother as live-in help. In fact, it was more than help. She cooked and cleaned for the family and took care of my mom all day while my grandma finished her graduate studies.
Then there was my mom. She didn’t have live-in support, but she had a solid group of close female relatives that helped with caring for me. She had two devoted aunts, one recently-retired mother, and one strong, able, and wise grandmother. All doting on me and carefully taking care of my mom in her new role of motherhood.
And then, there’s me. I have my dad, but he works full-time and lives an hour away. Plus he’s a man. Sorry, it’s not the same. I have my brother, but he’s 16. Enough said. I have a mother in law who wants to help, but is very busy with her own 90-something year old mother. I have my wonderful husband. He works a lot, but when he’s home, he’s the best partner and support I could ever hope for.
Is it normal to feel so alone as a mother? Is it normal to have these moments when all you want to do is hand your baby over to a trusted pair of hands and just walk away for a minute or two or sixty?
You guys, I’m very much alone in this. I don’t feel alone, I am alone. It’s a fact. I haven’t known any other way of mothering. It’s what I am used to. I am used to falling asleep in front of the tv at 9 pm. I am used to rushing every shower during her morning nap because it’s the only chance I’ll get. I’m used to the exhaustion being so great that I am too tired to even talk to my husband before bed.
I wonder if this is my generation. Even girls with mothers – will they have the same “it takes a village” experience when they raise their babies?
I love my daughter in ways I can’t even begin to explain in words. She’s my soul, my heart, and my most perfect love. I could cry right now, just thinking of what a blessing she is to me. But man, I am tired. I keep busy. I see friends, often ones with babies. Sometimes I just miss being me. The old me. I miss thinking about my own needs. That’s the biggest shock of motherhood to me; All of sudden, no one, not even I, cares about my needs. They don’t come second, they come last, maybe even become invisible.
I wonder, is this normal? Is it healthy? Do I need to accept the fact that I don’t have a “village” of family raising my child? Should I just create support for myself artificially? Should I hire someone to help me once in a while? Is there any shame in that?
In my heart, I feel like there is. Mothers should do it all. They’re invincible after all. They wear invisible capes.