Tomorrow morning, Carter and I are leaving on an improvised vacation to stay with my sister-in-law and her family in their cabin. This is a much needed 24-hour holiday.
There is something wrong with me. It is a creeping sensation that has embedded itself in the hangnails of my ill-manicured hands and the mascaraed goop in the corners of my eyes. It lies in the piles (and piles and piles) of shed hair lying in my sink each morning and night I brush my post-pregnancy hair, and it cuddles in the tension of my shoulders. Something is missing.
I have learned to go, and go, and go, and I am good at going. I don’t even need to know the end destination; I am sensational at following commands. I forget often that I’m better skilled at giving them. Or I used to be.
I’m unhappy with my work product — why weren’t those scores higher? I’m unhappy with my body — why can’t it be stronger? Why does it need so much sleep? I’m guilt-ridden over not being able to stay at home with my son. I’m muddled, repentant, stuttering; I will never amount to the stay at home mom that I had. I can’t.
And I know that I’m too hard on myself. And it doesn’t matter. I am a Lange. It is never enough. It is never cured, never full, never right.
I count my blessings every day:
Great family. Good health. Ideal husband. Healthy, beautiful, perfect son. Cute terrier. Employment. Intelligence. Compassion. Incredible friends.
And I am so, so thankful for these gifts — both those that I own through kismet and those obtained by hard work. But I am a sick, diseased person. I am. Though the whole world is sunshine and cupcakes, I am not enough.
If you’ve come this far in this middle-class American girl’s pathetic lamentation, and you are feeling genuine concern — don’t. Oh, I can handle my own “Sarah Plain and Tall” (my mother’s favorite comparison) ways. I was born with this curse and know well how to shake it. What I’m braving to publicly announce here is that pregnancy and being made a mother has made my er, disorder, so. much. worse.
There is such pressure now that even I had not imagined. I want to be perfect at all of the things a “mom” should be, and it is so, so unfair that it is not possible. I cannot stay at home and fulfill my dream of teaching. I cannot change my body’s inability to breastfeed. I can’t cook from scratch every night and maintain a spotless home. I can’t be as economical and environmentally friendly as I want. I can’t run and lift and carve my body to perfection. I can’t pamper my husband the way I want to. And whereas there might be a glass half-empty shadow on a few/all of these items, even with a cloudless head I know that all of these things together are just not ever going to happen.
And yet I will it so. Carter deserves it all. He deserves a mom that can inspire him to be a professional and an athlete and sustainable and intelligent and crafty and polished and and and and.
So, here’s the plan. Trees, cabin, baby, breathing. Sounds like a cure for a nasty case of unrealistic, stressed-out, manic mommy.
I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found was really going in.
– John Muir