Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Minor Things

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.


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.

Stupid therapy.

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.

                             Photo taken in Leura Health Foods


  1. I do not enjoy family dinners either, so liberating to walk away from the responsibilities.

  2. I love you, Eddie. I have so many thoughts, but as my English friend used to say, I couldn't possibly comment. I'll email you instead.


    PS What a wanker comment.

  3. i hear you - and nothing in your post is MINOR

  4. Hi, Eden,

    I have just discovered your blog and love it..You and I have quite a bit in common minus the kids. If you want to read about the dark side of motherhood, read Anne Lamott's "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year." She had only been sober a short time when she got pregnant with Sam, and it's a great mix of recovery and the shock of being a new mom. She's got a wonderfully bitter and ascerbic humor, like when she writes of wanting to swing Sam around over her head, like a bollo.

    Sending the good vibes your way.

    Laura--Charlotte, NC

  5. you are not alone...my understanding of parenting is so lost in my head sometimes....that I feel totally insane, psychotic, and generally destroyed, and then guilty and then over it, then on top of it and then at the pit of it..again and again. Then other times I feel I must be an awesome parent and thats why I keep on swimming....

  6. I love you you know -- and there are only a handful of people I can ever really confide my inner darkness to -- and of course, you are one of them.

    I think of you every day.



  7. I am a horrible mother sometimes. Sometimes I rock as a mother. You can't really take the sum total until much later on. The love is/was/will be there, and that's what really counts. I hope. :)

    Just to warn you, deciding to eat when the food is ready, regardless of who's available may not dampen the resentment. Been there, done that. I don't know why exactly people cannot report to the fucking table when I say "Dinner's ready." It's a pretty simple concept, I think. Anyway.

    Glad you've returned from away...and that therapy is back on the agenda.

    And I love that sign.

  8. Although I haven't exactly walked in your shoes, I hear you. Like, HEAR you. I think there are way more BLACK moments of motherhood that any mother will admit. Most mothers (at least in my town) want you to think it's their greatest joy in life to wipe shitty asses and clean up dirty underwear off the floor all day. Well, it's not mine. And I appreciate, so much, the honesty when people will just say, "Yeah, sometimes this sucks. A lot." Because we already KNOW that there are the sweet, redeeming parts of motherhood. We see this in our children every day (at the very least when they're sleeping peacefully in their beds). It's the mental drudgery of knowing when you wake up hearing demands for chocolate milk and "*I* do it", that this day is going to be just like yesterday and will be just like tomorrow. Add to that the neverending list of housework/chores/living that has to be done every day with little or no help. Some days it's just too much.

    But I think us "modern" women are lucky to have things like BLOGS, which help us feel more connected to each other on a deeper level than an artificial smile at the library story time.

    Thanks for your blog and for your honesty. It's so very refreshing.

  9. Therapy is stupid. But also really, really good. It is stupidly annoying like that.

    Tonight I left the dinner table and ate by myself in the kitchen. It was nicer there. Quieter.

    I say feed the kids and then eat later when you can actually enjoy the food!

    P.S. I'm glad you came back

  10. I love reading your blog. I never comment - but sometimes your posts just really hit home and man-o-man, do they make me think. Thank you, Eden.

  11. I believe there is a dark side to everything. Sometimes we have to stay in the darkness for awhile. Sometimes we come out to the light only briefly. Other times we live in the light. Meditate and give it up to the Universe. Your brain is not you. Don't let it trick you into thinking that you are nothing less that perfect. I see and hear your spirit singing in this blog. It should be celebrated, and by the number of people who love it here, I think it is. I know it is. I am glad you didn't end Eden. I am glad I didn't end Crow. You help me see that. Keep talking and writing... ~crow (the nice kind) ;-)

  12. I have Mothering guilt as well.
    I have been at the Therapists for PND.
    I spent a year lying on the couch, while my daughter climbed up and over me, watching Blues Clues the musical over and over and over, because I couldn't bring myself to get up and change it. Or answer the phone. I did feed and change her, though. Oh look, the guilt is showing through again.
    I think you are getting there and your therapist sounds awesome. :-D
    Everyday you survive is a success. Keep being a success. ;-)

    We have Family Dinner here, once a week. At 6:30 pm. Whomever wishes to show up for it can, including Uncle, and if they don't I serve and my daughter and I eat anyway. I think you are doing an awesome thing if it reduces stress on you.

    I am loving that poster and I know several Friends who need that in their kitchen. :-)

  13. I think that most of motherhood is filled black moments. It is the rare "bright spots" that make it (somewhat) worthwhile .

  14. I hate therapy but just signed up with a new Therapist, let's hope she's wicked good at smacking me when I need it.

    Family dinner is important in our house but if Hubby's not ready when it is he misses out. The kids are young so they and I sit.
    I can't wait dinner with 99 loads of bloody laundry staring at me....I have to go to another room to ignore it.

  15. We are all crapola one one stage or another. And anyone that denis that to themselves or to others is a liar.

    And the wondering if you can handle living the rest of life unmedicated? If you can imagine it, if you can dream it, if you can feel it in YOUR future, you can make that happen. Just get to the place you can believe. I reckon you are on the precipice of that right now.

    (Says she. It took me 27 years to believe that. But when I did, 'twas easy. No shit.)


  16. Oh my, on the days when the kid was crying and mewling too much, on the days it rains, and I'm tired cause my sleep was interrupted for the umpteenth time and hubby comments yet again about keeping the cutting board clean or asks about dinner, when I look in the mirror and I haven't had my hair done in MONTHS, and I see grey pubic hairs and I'm vacuuming dog hair over and over again and I'm so bored, I could explode... I will think of you and know that I am not alone. Nam myo ho renge kyo.

  17. I have to admit I don't understand any of this because I've never suffered from depression and I did really enjoy being a housewife/mum. Some of us are just built that way.
    I AM glad however, that you're getting therapy and I'm glad you have a great therapist who throws you a curve ball that makes you cry and rethink. She's doing good work.

  18. You are so honest when you write it makes me cry. I think that book your searching for on the dark side of motherhood, I think that you could write it. I would read it and I do not even have kids, but what you write makes me stop and think every time...take care of yourself x

  19. Mate, I had a similar dinner moment last nite, sat down after slaving over spinach and ricotta canelloni for over an hour and BB goes "mum i dont like that bit so am not gunna eat it" so I go "well i dont care if you like it or not and i'm not gunna eat dinner with you" and went and ate in the kitchen by myself...................liberating but SO full of fucked up catholic/mother/etc guilt - ooops!

  20. Great post, I don' have kids, can't relate there, but have two therapists, was "away" twice last year, and stopped waiting for when my husband rolled in from work at any hour to eat dinner.

  21. I thought it was just me. Some days there is nothing but blackness. Sometimes it tries to swallow me. I nearly let it a few times.

    What worries me is that if I don't do the slave thing, the nurturing thing, my house will end up on "How clean is hour house?" and my children with their father.

    I hear you, Eden. Take care of yourself. Some things don't matter. Some things do. It's important to know which is which.

  22. sometimes i think my choices are wrong and i haven't got what it takes to parent. Days like today

  23. “Being a mother and wife and the family-nurturer steals my freedom.” HOW TRUE THIS IS!!….at least for me. (I guess some women find all the joy in the world at being the family slave, but I just find it depressing.)

    I am dealing with all the same crap as you are Eden. In fact, just last night I tried to pull off the family dinner as well and of course it failed miserably. Husband was late, three year old had to go potty, and then it was a drink. My dinner gets cold while I wait on others. So draining. I vowed to never again feel guilty if we don’t have the traditional family dinner. It’s a myth if you ask me.

    AND I am so worn out by the demanding preschoolers who can’t bear give me 10 seconds of peace, the greedy ungrateful teenagers who just take, take, take and the husband who has to have it all his way and I must adapt. Once in a while I need to do something just for ME!

    P.S. My husband would have never even come to check on me if I had fled to the bedroom. And if I point that out to him, he would say “well, you were upset so I didn’t want to bother you” Thanks for your care and consideration….NOT!

  24. I had a Bad Shouty Mummy Day today.
    I'm tired. I have a headache.
    and I lost my shit over spilt milk.
    and I cancelled the Easter Bunny.
    (Bad Shouty Mummy.)
    I'm so tired of it being just me.
    only me.
    on call, 24/7.

    I AM Good Mummy for most of the time.
    ...and since their Dad is dead, Mostly Good Mummy is all they are ever going to get.
    ...and I have to tell myself that Mostly Good Mummy will be enough...

  25. Ah the darkness, that I can understand as I have been there. Family dinners . . . suck. The preschooler always needs to go pooh, the toddler screams because there is nothing that he wants to eat and by the end I am done. Each time I swear that I am done cooking because no one eats it. The next night I try again.

    I think that is the definition of insane isn't? Trying the same thing over and over again and expecting/hoping for a different outcome.

    I am glad that you decided to stick around and stick it out. We all have days where we are so worn out that we want to quit, to give up. It takes strength to admit that and the cuddles of the wee ones to give us the strength to carry on.

    That being said, I would love it if my kidlets didn't want to cuddle ALL night, EVERY night. I cannot sleep with someone touching me.

    Thinking of you!

  26. Thankyou Eden for giving voice to the darkness can that overshadow things, with no-one sharing that they've been there before, letting us know it not all sweet smelling roses but that there are thorns..

  27. New follower here!

    You know what? I love that you're REAL. I'm going through a trying time myself these days trying to juggle all of the different things I'm supposed to be for other people.

    I respect you so much for writing what a lot of us are feeling.

  28. What society crams down our throats as "normal."

    I measured myself and my nonnormal family against this stick my entire life.

    I didn't recognize it for the marketing farce it was.

    Now, my 9 yr old is smarter than most adults. He looked at a commercial of a family playing a game on "family game night..buy yours now!" and said, "that's not true. Families don't do that."

    My heart skipped a beat, "what, honey, what do you mean? are you saying we don't spend time with you??"

    "No, mom, people don't get all dressed up perfect like they're going to church to play a game. They just get down on the floor and just play with you."

    He sees the farce crap that I never saw.

    I love my therapist, too.

    Therapy, along with my blogs, and the antidepressants...and I'm making it day by day.

  29. Glad you are back. Sorry you are feeling like such crap. Been there, done that. Now on my fourth anti-dep med (prozac) and am quite content. I have tried the mind set of "I dont need meds, I am better" but in reality, its just a matter of time before I need or want to go back on it. Its so hard. I also HATE it when I make dinner (because that is what all of us moms do, make dinner every night while everyone else hangs out) and then no one reacts when I say the "dinner is ready" announcement. PISSES ME OFF. But sounds like there are many of us that should just eat when its hot and ignore all others. I also have a therapist, she is very good and makes me think differently than I ever have. She must need lots of therapy, that therapist of mine. :) I question my motherhood skills every day, normal too. But we do torture ourselves. But really, our children are being raised the best we can. And much better than lots of others. If we could just get that DOUBT out of our busy heads, we would all feel better. Normal? I dont know what normal is, but I do know what "better" is. And I am getting better, you will too. PS- LOVE THAT SIGN. very true!! Lisa

  30. Eden, I had no idea just how deeply your tongue was pushed into your cheek. I am so proud of you that words cannot convey how much you mean to me! You will be considerably dimmer if you medicate - and I love your light!

    The struggle to maintain through the tough times sucks, but the clarity of vision (especially in hindsight) makes up for some of the pain. I know that you will do what's right for you. You have the fortitude, power and strength to do just that!

    You are a beacon that shines brighter than Nobel Prize winners, resident geniuses and most of those who have gone before us. Thank you for allowing me to bask in truth without shame, guilt or restraint. You are incredibly important to not just me, but thousands of readers. Thank you!

    And, as my kids are now grown, self-sufficient and magnificent -- I will tell you that they say the thing that made it possible was that I shared my true self.

    You do that everyday SO I offer you proof that all you need to do is be your true self. The good mommy, bad mommy, shouty mommy and all are part of life and prepare the monsters for the real world and life without protection.

  31. Eden -- you ROCK -- red boots and all!

    I have fodder for thought for weeks now -- thanks.

  32. Do not fall into the 'guilt' trap. We all make mistakes as mothers. We do the best we can with the skills we learned from OUR mothers.(do not know your mum so please do not take offense). But I know mine. And my parenting skills OH SO CAME FROM HER. But therapy is what saved me from that 'dark' side of myself. If you said you liked therapy, then I would certainly be worried about you! Do not be so harsh on yourself. Family dinners are so over rated. There are many other ways to connect with the family. You are awesome...forget about it!!!!!!!

  33. Family dinners? We eat in front of the tv! I'm not so good at implementing family dinners on the table.

  34. Eden you are the shiny star in a sky of black,your no bullshit honesty is excatly what all of us mothers need to read & if we are honest we all have those "this gig totally sucks arse & i quit moments" but we don't quit we keep on doing what we do because...well because...shit i don't know,we just do! thank you for making my same,same everyday shit a little easier to manage...p.s i too had the mummy meltdown about poo & surprise it never happened ever again!

  35. I still have to catch up on most of your... is "back story" the correct word to use? But I want to, and I will.

    For now, I just want to thank you for sharing. This is raw. And real. And beautiful. Don't stop.

    Also? That sign in Leura rocks!

  36. Hi Eden,

    You have an amazing talent as a writer. I don't normally link to posts in comments but I read this one today and think it is really relevant to some of the feelings you talk about. Here is a quote from it:

    In the late twentieth century, motherhood and career have been presented as two separate and distinct paths. Women have been socialised into wanting more than full time stay-at-home mothering, but they are “obliged to subordinate their personal objectives by an ideology that insists that unless they do, they will damage their children for life” (Thurer, 1994, p. xxiv).


    The post doesn't say one is right or better than the other, but looks at all the issues associated with both.

    Hope you are doing ok.


  37. Oh my god. Who are you all? Where are you? You're fucking amazing. Thirty-seven of you ... it's like I sent out a pigeon carrier to the world and my pigeon was mangy and brown with fleas. And your responses all arrived involving some sort of calligraphy and red velvet.

    I am equally blessed and mortified .. to have such beautiful Souls read my blog. Can not say thank you enough. It's taken me almost two days to sit down and read these comments .. I was scared and embarrassed. And needn't have been, obviously.

    I need to upgrade my commenting system badly, so I can reply to you. Please know that your words really bloody helped me a lot. And I hope you read each others. It never fails to shock, when I realise I am not alone.

  38. Seems like you're just about speaking for all of us. At least some days.

    I keep trying with the family dinner. And I keep failing. And failing. Nice to know it's not just me/us. One day my spirit will be crushed enough and my expectations lowered enough that it will happen just as I plan it.

  39. My therapist convinced me the shiny, pretty knife in my kitchen wouldn't solve my problems, and I chose to believe her. We yell, scream, shout, and throw things, but we love with that same vigor. Last night we had ice cream for dinner. Not before. Instead of. Just screw a buncha cooking, cause we're having sundaes!!


  40. Last year was the year where I picked up the phone and made the call to begin therapy. I still believe it was the hardest and bravest thing I ever did. I don't like going AT ALL. But it had helped me figure out so much stuff and make sense of the inner jumble that is my brain. I had a crisis a couple of months back and I knew I had to make that call and go in to see him. Because not doing it would have seen me spiral back to "days of yore." And I am determined not to revisit them.
    Eden your words make so much sense to me. Thank you. More than you'll ever know. x

  41. You know Eden, most of the time when I read your blog I keep thinking about 'Stuck in a Moment".

    "I'm just trying to find
    A decent melody
    A song that I can sing
    In my own company."

    So I'll channel Bono and say 'You are such a fool, to worry like you do. Oh I know its tough and you can never get enough of what you don't really need now. My oh My." :-)


Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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