Q&A: why can’t I love this? (Edited)

(Hey, I just realized that I forgot to add the word "all" in my sentence about not being able to do it all without anti-depressants. Ha! I meant to write that no one can do it all without anti-depressants. Certainly you can do some of it without anti-depressants. If you can cut yourself some slack. But again, another sign of depression is not being to cut yourself some slack. Just be gentle with yourself, OK? If you need to go anti-depressants, please do so. If you don’t need them, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that all mom are on them–that would be as much of a fallacy as the idea that all moms are happy all the time. I’d like to banish any statements starting with "all moms are" anyway.

Now I’m going to go read the comments. I hope no one got alarmed or had her feelings hurt by my leaving out the word "all.")

Sorry about that. All the rain did something to the cable connection to our building,and I couldn’t get on the internet to post anything. (I’m about to post my comment on Monday’s work question at the end of that post. I agreed with all of you, of course.)

Here’s one I’ll also need your support  with. Lucy writes:

"This a pretty vague question: but how can I relax and enjoy motherhood more? I had a great pregnancy but a difficult birth with my daughter who is now 8 months. Tough recovery and breastfeeding problems followed and now, though she sleeps and eats well, I’m always worrying about something or beating myself up. I know that I need to let go of expectations and be more zen, but keep finding that so difficult as an erstwhile professional who is used to having everything under control. I don’t want to look back and realise I’ve missed out on the good times. I think part of the problem is that I forgot I was going to have a baby and was looking forward to being mum to an independent 3 year old!"

I think basically all mothers are victims of propaganda. We’re allowed to think that pregnancy is all positive, wonderful rainbows and sunshine, but a huge percentage of us have hormone-related depression that makes us feel horrible and sold out. Let’s not even talk about the delivery and birth, which have so much baggage attached to them even before we get to the tough painful part. (Let’s think about it–labor and delivery hurts like hell coming or going already. Isn’t that enough? Why add all this strange mythology to it, too to give all of us a nice case of pre-post traumatic stress disorder?) And if you adiopt, well, we don’t even know how to think about that, et alone talk about it. Then we get to the actual motherhood, and it’s really hard and there’s no real reward for weeks and weeks, and then the reward is just a smile.

And yet everyone, at every stage of the game, keeps saying, "But it’s sooooo worth it."

Well, duh. Yes, it’s worth it. Your children are the joys of your life. But. It still sucks at all stages of the game, either a little or a lot.

People give sympathy for the first few months, because they’re like being captured by aliens. But by the time your baby is 8 or 9 months old you’re supposed to ahve a handle on it. The baby is plumped up and sweet-looking, like a magazine baby. Everyone in your mother’s group is lying and saying their baby is "sleeping through the night " (5 measly hours! Is it even a worthy goal?).

But it’s still really hard emotionally. I kind of think that that’s about the age when it starts to sink in that this IS the New Normal. Whether you’re at home or at work all day, the baby exhausts you. And then there’s the whole nighttime routine, and middle-of-the-night stuff. And thinking about the food all the time. But you’re also supposed to have lost all of the baby weight, and having an amazing sex life with your husband, and  be up on current events, and either totally present at your job or gleefully happy about being at home.

Honestly, it’s just too freaking much. No one can do it [all] without the help of anti-depressants.

So, Lucy, my advice to you is to cut yourself some slack. All those moms who look so zen (and people tell me I’m one of them–apparently I look calm all the time) are really just fantasizing about having a night alone in a hotel with nice sheets and no one else there wanting something from them. It’s not like everyone else is totally in the moment and you’re not. Everyone’s dropping the ball in one way or another. It’s just that some of us are forcing ourselves to be OK with dropping those balls.

It does not pay to be perfect. Even if it was possible, it’s a crappy way to live. 8 months is hard. You’ll like 3 years better. If you can accept that now isn’t your favorite time and see your daughter as equally captive to her normal developmental stages, it might be easier on you emotionally.

Anyone else? Did you have any big "I don’t have to be perfect" moments you’d like to share? Any "I hated this stage but ended up loving the next one" times? Freestyle bitching about feeling sold out by our culture is also welcome.

Hey–once again I’m late for work! No time to spellcheck.

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