Sculpture in lobby of the Hilton Hotel, NYC. Is she welcoming them in a loving embrace, or trying to dust them off?
Last Thursday I sat with my therapist for the first time in a month. She broke her foot and hasn't been at work. I was relieved I didn't have to see her for a whole month because ... who likes therapy? Not me.
She put her foot up on the table and asked me a few questions and I start talking and things came spilling out. I had this terrible sense that, if I stop talking .. she was going to add to the conversation in some way. Maybe even tell me things I hadn't thought of yet.
MAYBE EVEN THERAPISE ME.
She did. When I stopped blabbering, she said a few words that ran across the floor and gave me some swift, sharp uppercuts. I sat there, digging, reaming my fingernail into my leg so that I wouldn't cry. It didn't work. She watched my face change, reached over and handed me the box of tissues.
I've had the biggest, untreated case of post-natal depression you ever did see. As Rocco himself would say ... GUCK. I also find myself talking a lot to my therapist about the role of women in the family. Themes include unpaid work, low self-esteem, and the ensuing resentment that occurs if you take care of every person except yourself.
I go from tangent to tangent - about everything, and my therapist nods knowingly and always lets me know a way I hadn't thought of before. It's groundbreaking for me, to think that my brain does not contain all the answers. I told her that I don't know if I can handle living the rest of my life unmedicated. She asked me how was I handling it? I told her that when I'm walking down the street, freaking out that something Terrible is going to happen, something imminent and horrific, then I just think well, there's nothing I can do about the Terrible and imminent thing. I continue walking down the street anyway. So far it seems to be working.
She gave me a CD of Buddhist zen meditation to listen to for homework, because she's completely awesome and I wished she lived with me forever.
Rocco. My guy. He's asleep right next to me, right now. Giving little snorey snores.
I have not had a decent night sleep in almost three years, so fierce is his desire to snuggle. To come running into our bedroom at night, every night, and work his way in between us.
After some spectacular mummy meltdowns, he's too scared to poo on the floor, ever again.
The guilt I feel over my parenting of this child is so big, and so guck, that no amount of leg-gouging can stop.
Rocco is the reason I started blogging to begin with. This boy, this much-wanted baby. I wrote about him before he even existed. I wrote about him when he was my biggest yearning, back before I even started any treatments for IVF. I saw him on screen before the embryo transfer when he was just four cells. I saw him get transferred to my uterus like a shooting star, and life has not been the same since.
Yet, when he came to me, when I was able to see him and feel him, finally hold this much-desired for bebe .... it was not as I thought it would be. (Is it ever?) Instead of rejoicing and the oohs and ahhs, we had to draft up daddy's Last Will and Testament. Daddy is very sick, tiny baby. Shush! SHUSH.
He did not shush. He grew louder at every turn. The more I became distracted and paralysed by Dave's cancer .. the more this little guys needs became magnified. He had huge needs that I did not meet. I have been a shocker of a mother ... before you tell me otherwise, let us sit with the Truth for a while.
I have been. A shocker. Of a mother. End sentence. New paragraph.
Is there an actual real book out there on the dark side of motherhood? Surely, somebody has gone before me? And written of how awful and black it can actually be.
I have a two-year old who fights me at every turn (NO JUMPER! I POO IN POTTY NOT TOILET! YOU GO WAY MUM! I WAAAANT BUZZZZZ. NO! GIMME! WAHHHH! NO!!!)
I have a 9-year old pre-teen who has been constantly pushing boundaries, especially in the unrestricted internet access department.
And I have had a really angry, sullen stepson who comes and goes at all hours of the day and night. Giving me nothing but dark energy and a mental F*CK YOU.
No son .... f*ck YOU.
When I vaguely mentioned that "I was Away" back in February, it meant Away Away. Like, cuckoo. Deciding when to come back, kind of Away. Deciding whether I even WOULD come back, or, you know. Stay alive. Minor things such as these.
The other night, Dave got home from work at 7pm. I had waited so we could all eat together. Isn't that what all good families do goddamit? Isn't it where the thread of society gets woven? Can't we just pretend to be bloody normal? I served everyone, dimmed the lights, sat down. Daves mobile phone rang and he answered it, sitting there picking at the dinner with his hands, yammering away.
Yammering. Obviously, if he didn't answer that phonecall right then, somebody would die.
I mouthed to him to hurry up. He scowls, walks over to the pantry. Rocco starts crying for a drink before he's even had a bite of food. I sit there and a light bulb goes off. I don't care about stupid family dinner.
I walked off, to my bedroom. Shut the door, put on my headphones, rocked out. Dave came in later, sheepishly. I was a grinning fool. "It's cool hon - I'm fine! I don't give a crap. Just so you know - I don't care about family dinners anymore!"
And I don't. Maybe I will again one day, but from now on, we eat when the food is ready. Regardless of which ungrateful person is around at the time. So liberating.
I rejoiced in my freedom. Being a mother and wife and the family-nurturer steals my freedom. I have to steal it back, just like U2 stole Helter Skelter back from Charles Manson after he stole it from the Beatles.