Thursday, May 12, 2016

On not doing very well

I'm letting E run through the yard right now. The sun is about 20 minutes from setting, it's very breezy, and considerably chilly. Especially when you're a two year old in a t-shirt and shorts with no shoes on.
But he doesn't care.
Inside the other three - undoubtedly including a screaming, constantly hungry three week old baby - are under the supervision of their father. I pity him, if only for his inability to lactate, because B (the newest child) always wants to eat and tends to be upset when he isn't being fed. Oddly my maternal instinct has briefly shut itself off in reaction to the knowledge that a tiny baby is in need of my unique presence.
I don't care.
I'm giving E the chance to run, to play outside like the cold resistant creature he is. He's got a clogged, dripping, raw nose that should be my hint to keep him indoors, but he'd rather be out here any day, communing with nature in his strange but effective toddler way. He wants to dig through the white gravel that lines our drive, wants to trowel through the mud under the lone tree in our yard. He wants to yell at squirrels, encounter one of the neighborhood's many stray cats, feel the grass between his toes. The pain of stepping on things, the discomfort of plodding around without shoes on sharp rocks, eludes him. I can't explain it. It's like he hasn't been taught that pain is to be avoided, so he continues. Maybe to a degree he has it right.
Maybe we've been taught to avoid pain for so long that we're afraid to do the things that bring us joy.
Regardless, I'm drawn back to my own unhappiness. I've been unhappy for so long that I've sort of accepted that this is who I am. It's easy to forget how life changing a baby is once you're past the constantly needy stage that seems to take over everything you know. You get to the point of having a young child capable of communication and understanding, a child who can have a conversation and give you an idea of why they hurt or are angry or what they want for lunch, and you forget the sleepless nights and myriad diaper blowouts. You forget that you often spent hours praying desperately to whatever deity that would listen that if you could understand just this one time why the baby is crying after you've done literally everything you can, that you'd convert to that particular religion immediately. You forget all the times you had to physically separate yourself from the baby and go into another room because you were so tired, so frustrated, so angry, so upset that nothing made sense anymore and you couldn't remember the last time you'd gotten to shower without a screaming voice in the background or enjoy a meal without trying to feed the baby at the same time.
You forget how hard it is to be social, to be a human, when you're busy being a food source and a life sized comfort object. You forget how to be a friend, because you feel like everybody else is out having a life and a good time but you.  After a while it breaks you bit by bit, until you aren't sure you could go back to "normal" - whatever normal was to begin with - if you tried. If you had the chance. It becomes easier to curl back up in your tiny corner of despair than try to reach out for what always feels like the billionth time in hopes of finding a kindred soul. You sink into self hatred, convinced nobody wants you anymore. You slip a little farther every day, and it gets easier and easier to lie when someone asks you how you're doing.
Fine, of course.
Because why would you be anything else? Isn't this supposed to be bliss, a beautiful and peaceful experience that leads you to some sort of higher existence? You feel unappreciative of the gift you've been given, pathetic that you can't handle it this time around if it isn't your first, angry at yourself for needing to try so damn hard to put on a smile when others do so effortlessly. You are convinced there's something wrong with you, that you're broken emotionally (and physically if your birth didn't go the way you had intended). The fact that you feel broken makes you feel worse, because surely the old adage that all that matters is that you and the baby lived gets thrown in your face. Others have been in your shoes, you're reminded. So why do you struggle so when they easily push on, content and whole no matter their lot?
Why do you hurt?
Over and over it goes.
Finally we go inside, prompted by the screams of a baby accompanied by a gentle request of its father. E comes willingly, frighteningly enough, after picking up all the toys he'd gotten out. He needs little prompting. He runs to the door, and to a bath, all further reminders of how far removed he is from babyhood. He can make choices, describe his actions, argue his wants. He may lack clarity and sentence structure, his grammar may at times be atrocious, but he is obviously no longer a baby, especially in comparison to the tiny creature that ends up gulping at my breast minutes later. He's only two but he demonstrates creativity, imagination, and passion for certain subjects.
Meanwhile there's B. Tiny, unable to communicate besides cries and screams. Completely reliant upon others for every need, but especially upon me for food. It's overwhelming and terrifying. It's upsetting sometimes.
But we continue on.