can you snap out of it when you’re drowning?

can’t quite reach surface
it’s definitely there though
least, that’s what I hear

I often joke about being driven crazy. Right now, though, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s actually happened. The crying seems to be a hint that maybe something’s not OK. This constant, behind the eyes prickly feeling I have isn’t a good feeling. Only it’s not constant. Some days I’m great – a mama who’s taking over the world. But other days all it takes is one thing and I have to chew on the insides of my cheeks to keep from completely losing my shit. Today is a shit losing day.

It’s funny how, at about four months post partum, it seems like you’re getting the hang of things. You kind of have a routine, you recognize some of your baby’s cries, you know how to soothe her, you know ways to literally talk your older child off the window ledge (or the kitchen counter or the back of the sofa), you’re getting the hang of it. But other people see that you have the hang of it and they think you actually know what you’re doing. Offers of help don’t come as often as you still need them. Your spouse goes to work early and comes home late because he sees the house isn’t falling apart without him. But you don’t have the control over everything like people think you do.

It’s a precarious hold I have over my household and myself right now. Sure things are messy, but the kids are fed, clothed and happy. The bills are paid, the budget is kept, the sheets are washed, the floor is cleaned, the dog is alive, birthdays are remembered, Christmas presents are bought, books are edited, new books are written, the car has gas, the pantry has food, hair is washed, underwear is cleaned, batteries are replaced, plastic is recycled, frogs are fed, eye doctors are visited, well child appointments are scheduled, school is arrived at on time, as is dance class, old milk is thrown out, dishes are cleaned, clothes that are too small are replaced with clothes that are too big, prescriptions are filled, lullabies are sung, knees are kissed, tears are wiped away, snot is wiped away, wishes are made from tiny little eyelashes, and sometimes, every now and then, mama gets to take a nap.

Mama does a lot these days and she misses herself. I miss having dinner together as a family, too. I miss having a husband to wake up to in the mornings instead of a hurried kiss as he leaves the house at 4:30AM for work. I miss going places. I don’t go places very often, other than taking the wee one to school and dance and the occasional visit to the library. I could go places when he’s at school, but I don’t have the energy. I’ve been too busy being mama from 4:30 AM to 7 PM every day. Even if I COULD get out, it wouldn’t be safe for me to drive because I’m so tired.

And that is why I have the prickly feeling behind my eyes. I’m tired. I’m a little overwhelmed. I need my partner to be my partner and not a visitor the family gets to see for a hour and half everyday before we go to bed. I need a break, a vacation, a shoulder, a good cry. And I need to not feel guilty for needing that. Because I do feel guilty for needing it. I HAVE a partner. I HAVE great kids. I HAVE my writing. I do not live in Darfur. My husband is not in Iraq. I do not need the food bank for my holiday dinner.

I am lucky.

But I’m underwater right now.

10 thoughts on “can you snap out of it when you’re drowning?

  1. Yes, yes, yes.
    Wait. Your hair is washed? AND your underwear? Is it OK that 23 months postpartum mine aren’t? Damn, I don’t even know where my underwear IS.
    Expectations of yourself 4 months postpartum, w/2 kids, primarily alone: WAAAAAY high. Help level and recovery/adjustment time: WAAAAAAY low. Do the math, mama, and see if you can’t try to give yourself a break.
    Except keep doing that eyelash-wishing thing, that is damn cute.
    Love and rest!


  2. Hang in there Kari. Pity we’re so far apart geographically coz kids ages and states of mind are pretty close. But damn woman, your list of what you have done is astonishing. Way WAY more than is getting done over here. And you NAP??!! Let the mamas help out, just let us know what you need.


  3. When I feel like that, which is often, I self-medicate with chocolate. Today I planted our two year old in front of Sesame, grabbed the crying 8 month old, and hid from said two year old, around the corner, to eat a chocolate croissant. I got crumbs all over said 8 month old.


  4. Andi! I do the same thing – but with Little Debbie Fudge Rounds. There’s nothing like picking chunks of fudge round out of your nursling’s eyebrows…


  5. so I’m feeling better right now. I went out with a friend for dinner and laughed and cried and ate fajitas until I was thisclose to exploding. My hubby stayed home, cleaned the house and entertained the kids. What a frickin crazy day.


  6. I know how you feel and you are not alone – mine are 3 1/2 and 1 and I still feel that way at times. I still feel guilty for catching a nap when the baby sleeps while the older one is at school. I still feel exhausted and angry when my husband leaves for work early and has to work late – leaving me w/no relief for 14 hours straight. Sometimes it’s an outright drowing and others a small puddle, but it’s always there. You are not alone…


  7. I think, although we are all sympathizing with you, most of your readers who are also mothers are highly amazed by you. You are an amazing mother and you even have time to blog and write other books! You should give yourself a bit more credit, but I think I should say Thank You… for making me feel normal because even some of the best mothers in the world feel down and out at times… and guilt is neverending as a mother. But doesn’t that only mean that we love our children? Keep your head up!


  8. I wanted to let you know that I’ve been there. I only have the one kiddo, but dealing with mental health issues with kids is fucking hard.
    I don’t have answers, I wish I did. I’m still trying to figure this all out.
    My mom keeps telling me that getting out of bed is good enough some days. And, calling folks to come and hang out with the kiddo for a day or two is ok also. (actually, that helps a lot).
    I hope that this passes for you, that things become better and easier.
    In the mean time, you have a large community of folks who care about you deeply. Even if you don’t know many of them in person.


  9. I don’t know any of you, but I’m comforted to know we’re all playing on the same crazy-and-wonderful team. I broke down and sobbed on a friend’s shoulder with my husband standing right there in the middle of the driveway on Thanksgiving afternoon b/c I started my period after a day of cooking and worrying about my asthmatic child and my friend’s kid with an ear infection while we were 400 miles from home. The whole long line of the effort of it all stretching into the future just hit me like a ton of bricks. Working, cooking, cleaning, mommying…it drains you of every little bit of healthy self there is. And the slightest thing (read: period) can just send me over the edge. Collective hug, moms, and one day at a time.


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