“I had a life I liked before”

I am OK, but am worried about my best friend (she's in danger), and if anyone who prays could pray for K, that would be lovely.

I just pulled this out of the comments from last week:

"I feel
unmoored and defeated. I had a life I liked before I got pregnant. I
knew it would mean giving up at least my career to have a baby. And it
has. I don't mean to be melodramatic: I knew there was a cost, and I
went in with my eyes open. I just didn't know that the cost was going
to feel like it was… everything."

Have you ever been in the ocean, and a big wave comes and you close your eyes and take a breath and let the wave wash over you and it's scary but you know if you just stay still and keep kicking your legs you'll eventually break the surface once the wave passes?

Contrast that to seeing the wave coming and struggling to stay above it, kicking and clawing furiously and struggling struggling and feeling like it's sucking you under.

I think the first few weeks/months/years/decades of parenting are like being in the ocean and having wave after wave come. If you know it's coming, and it's going to be scary and not AT ALL like standing on dry land was, you can accept that and let yourself go under while it passes. And then your head is above water again. It's not like standing on dry land was. Ever. But floating and swimming and turning into a mermaid can be just as much if not more fun once you're used to it.

If you fight and berate yourself for not seeing the wave coming or for going out into the ocean in the first place or for not loving the wave or not floating on top of it, though, it can really suck you under.

I don't know if that analogy is useful or just strikes you as stupid, but it's how I've always seen the enormous cosmic hazing of the first few months of mothering. Like everything you thought you knew is taken away from you, and you have to build yourself back into place, piece by piece.

Did anyone else experience this? Did anything help you feel more connected to your baby and to your new role and your new life?

137 thoughts on ““I had a life I liked before””

  1. Beautifully said. Luckily I was able to let it wash over me and my life is different, harder but truly so much better now that I’ve broken the surface (for now), but it could have, so very easily, gone the other way.Sending good thoughts and support to those who are struggling. Hopefully you have someone to tread water with but if not, the moxie community is always here kicking and thrashing right along with you.

  2. I felt like this the first 18 months or so. The things that really helped me were 1) Going to the gym every day. That hour and a half of childcare was my savior. Not my ideal type of alone time, but I could read my book and be happy. Now I am into classes and have discovered a whole new social network.2) Doing the rounds of moms groups. It took three tries before I found a group I liked and made friends who I really enjoyed, but it was well worth the angst (I’m naturally shy). I figured out that in order to make friends in these groups I had to be friendly. I just pretended like I was outgoing and fun and for some reason people believed it. Life is so much better for having friends we can hang out with during the day.

  3. I’m not sure how old the poster’s child is but, in my experience, your life does come back in stages. I was quite miserable for the first year and resentful of giving up my exciting and rewarding career, which I had worked towards my whole life. My son is 2.5 now and I’m very happy to have made professional sacrifices to be available for him. Once he started daycare at 18 months I returned to exercise and ‘me time’ and now, a year later, I feel like I have my own life back with the added bonus of a magnificent toddler who brings me more joy than anything else. Which raises the question, and I willing to do it all over again for another baby? And, I truly don’t know the answer to that question as I am finally truly, deeply happy again after being rather miserable for the first 12-18 months of my son’s life.

  4. Such a timely post for me. I definitely felt that way for the first year, which I still see in my memory as grey. I think part of my problem was that I didn’t even see the wave coming, I had no idea how many sacrifices I’d have to make. It was getting better for awhile, then in the past month, the wave seems to be coming towards me again and things have become a struggle. In a lot of ways things are easier now that he’s 21 months, but I still sometimes feel trapped, especially since he’s not a great sleeper. Two years of sleep deprivation is pretty much just hell. At least he’s a happy, outgoing, charming little boy outside the hours of 8 pm to 5 am.

  5. Even enjoying my 3 year old quite a lot these days, I have moments of that suffocation: “What the hell have I tied myself down to???” But I also cannot fathom what my life would look like without this burden of joy.Here’s something I wrote about a year ago, just before Dd was 2…
    “Being a mother has been a really difficult and lonely journey for me. The first year was simply 12 months of survival mode; we were barely hanging in there for a while. After we got Sophia’s food sensitivities cleared up, there was a long period of inward-focused recovery time – our small shell-shocked family was finally getting the chance to get to know the real us.
    When you become a parent, you put aside your self. You put aside selfishness. There is simply no room to be self-centered – this new little being requires every ounce of time and energy you have.
    Right after Sophia was born, I realized that in some small way I was grieving the loss of my self as I’d known her – the loss of the girl who was Laura. My identity was stripped in the blink of an eye, from “Laura (woman, wife, friend, Warcraft-fanatic, cook, photographer, writer, book-lover, etc.)” to “Mommy.”
    The subsequent years have been trying to recapture an identity that encompasses the all-consuming role of Mommy, without allowing it to swallow me whole.
    It’s hard. But I’m through enough of the really rocky parts to know that it CAN be worth it.
    Now I’m starting all over again with a newborn in February, and all these doubts are starting to flood over me again! OMG – starting back at square one! AGH! 🙂

  6. I too had a difficult time when I became a mother. The hardest part for me was having someone need me & depend on me so totally and completely. I was used to being independent, then I had a baby and all of a sudden I was IT — no one else would do but me.What helped was understanding that it wouldn’t last forever. I went back to organized sports (my 1 night a week out of the house!) when my baby was 5 months old. For 3 hours that night, my husband dealt with the baby — it was a godsend.
    During the day (when it was just me & the kid(s)) what helped was having a routine that involves getting out of the house at least once a day. Sometimes it’s a playgroup, other days it’s running errands. Seeing the outside world & interacting with other adults saves/saved my sanity.
    My oldest is almost 3 now and my youngest is 7 months. I certainly wouldn’t say I have my pre-kids life back, but it’s slowly coming back in bits & pieces.

  7. I have a 10.5 mos old. I am working right now, but my contract is up in Feb. and I will be SAHM then. Part of me is looking forward to spending time with my little girl, but part of me is sad. I never in a million years pictured myself SAHM, and I don’t know how I feel about it when I apply that label to myself. I don’t think I will truly know until I’ve been there for awhile…Just wanted to share.

  8. I still struggle with this a lot. In the 7 months before my pregnancy I married, moved away from my family, struggled to find work and then found an amazing job which (when I was childless) was head-spinningly big and glorious.My pregnancy was physically wonderful and the darkest mental time of my life, my husband and I both knew that if pregnancy lasted a year instead of 40 weeks our marriage likely would not have survived. During the widowhood that preceded this marriage I was comfortable not seeking therapy or medication but considered both and tried one while I was pregnant.
    Anyhow.
    Now I have a toddler and we are making the effort to come out of survival mode (which for us lasted about the first year, it took some solid mobility and some sign language before it felt like there was a PERSON there to work with). I have lost my chance to finish my Masters in my 30s. It will be 3 years from my decision to run my first half-marathon to a chance to actually DO it. It has mauled my ability to get home to my family and twisted what happens when I get there (need to see great-grandma over my friends even though I only have 72 hours twice a year!!). I was just beginning to really develop as a cook in my own home and that has been thwarted by the need to feed an omnivore, a vegan, and a Shortstack who is trending vegetarian about 8 seconds after we all get home.
    Shortstack is a great kid, and I like being a mom but if I was honest about it I liked NOT being a mom maybe a little bit more. For as drastic as the fork in the road of my life was – I can still see/feel/imagine what the road left behind would be and it HURTS because that was the road I always planned to be on.
    As a data point, I kept working and still love my job but I was back “working” for about 8 months before my head really got back into it.
    It would be easier to delete this. To let others speak and let their stories of coming through the wave bring you hope. I can see from the first few that they didn’t clear the wave by the point that I am at … so maybe that clearing will come for me too. But just in case it helps to hear that I can adore Shortstack and still be sad and hurt about the changes … I’ll hit post.

  9. I hate those damn mommy cards (sorry to those who use them) that say, “so and so’s mommy”. Yeah, I’m a mommy, but I’m so much more than that and I too grieved/grieve loss of time to do things that I love so dearly. I really liked Moxie’s answer and lauracomacho’s answer, it is a wave and we just have to go with it. It took me caring for my newborn niece to realize that it is SO MUCH EASIER without all the guilt, the worry, the “is she teething, is she cold, I think something’s wrong” I’m trying my best to let go of all the worries and just be. Sleep deprivation just makes everything more intense, more nervous and hard to deal with. It took me a long time to come out of the fog and now I feel like I’m okay. My husband also had to grieve too, for loss of time with me, loss of my boobs, and loss of sleep for him too. It’s helped that he’s my best friend and we are honest and open about it, but we also have a dynamic, passionate, wonderful 2 year old who is in every way us.

  10. The first 6 months of my son’s life I thought I was losing my mind. I’d given up a career I loved, and worked so hard for. I’d been driven and success-motivated since school age. honour role! international fellowship! running a company at 30! and then suddenly my life was reduced to trying to get poop stains out of onesies. And failing at it.I struggled hard with the lack of “accomplishment” in a day. At work, you have a project, you work hard at it, you finish it, people commend you for your brilliance – it is so satisfying. As a SAHM, everything you do just needs to be redone at 2 hour intervals. And you can’t help feeling completely inadequate at this new job, and it’s an extra kick in the pants that you were so good at the old one.
    But as my son got older, I got more of my life back. Some time to myself once he started solids and could drink from a sippy cup. And the rewards of all that work started to appear to me through all the funk. I have this lovely toddler who makes me happier than I could ever imagine.
    It is an amazingly difficuly process to re-invent yourself to incorporate “Mother” into your life and still make room for the person you used to be. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the time to adjust. And try to make time for you – just you – a few times a week. Our next child will learn to drink from a bottle too at an early age. That’s my only regret.

  11. Getting out of the fog took a couple of things:(a)Taking care of some physical issues (I had to get a hip replacement)
    (b) Sleep training a la various methods, including supernanny
    (c) getting out of the house (with and without son) and
    (d) wonderful mommy mentor Sharon (www.mommymentor.net I think)

  12. My first year with my first was hard hard hard. That first year with the subsequent 2 kids were not as hard by far. I like the wave analogy. I think it would have helped. I was pregnant unexpectedly – just a few years earlier than I would have planned. I learned I had no such control, not a bad lesson for all of life, really.The thought that made the third so much easier, besides the fact that she sleeps like a dream, was that I knew this was a a phase. Diapers – 3 years and we’d be done. Preschool in 3 years. Full day school in 5. It isn’t endless. With my first, the waves crashing felt like I would never ever surface. Maybe I would have to learn to live underwater. Do I know how to swim? With the third, I could see the shore.

  13. These days I feel as though I’ve given up everything, too. I thought that the life I had before could be “melded” with a baby, but as everyone here knows, it doesn’t work that way. My previous life was shattered. And I was super pissed about it. I felt like no one had told me the truth and that maybe I wouldn’t have given it all up if I had known. And as everyone said before, it took 12-18 months for me to absorb the shock of it and move on in any significant way. My little guy turns 2 this month and I’m still processing it all, still coming to terms with everything I’ve given up. But (not to sound cheesy) I’ve found things that fit into my new life and I try to focus on all the things I can do and all the ways my life has improved. It doesn’t look at all like it did, but if I’m totally honest with myself, I wasn’t 100% happy with everything BC. A lot of it was me doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. And now, because my “me time” is so precious, I don’t spend it doing anything but stuff that makes me happy. And as the little guy gets older, and the love we have in our little family just grows and grows, it feels worthwhile. (Most days…) And I’m enjoying this turn my life has taken. It’s just another sign that I can’t control everything. And how boring life would be if I could!

  14. I have a two year old. I’m still struggling with the mom part of the equation and haven’t been able to let the waves crash over me.Besides not being a good sleeper, she’s a joy. But I feel sometimes it’s more of a love/hate relationship of how I feel about actually being a mom and all that entails…i.e. loss of who I was before, always having company for going to the bathroom, different dynamic with my husband, lack of sleep on a whole new level my college days never competed with, etc.

  15. Oh my gosh I LOVE this analogy! I went from being a lawyer at a large firm to stay at home mom to a (now) 4-month old and like the original commenter said, I knew things were going to change. I just didn’t realize quite how overwhelmed I’d feel most of the time. Thank you for this, I really needed to hear it today.PS: can I just say that I love the commenters on this site? You all are so open and honest and nonjudgemental. I don’t comment a lot but you have all helped me a ton by sharing your experiences. So thank you all too. 🙂

  16. @Sarah 12:17 — Thank you thank you thank you! All of these posts are WONDERFUL to read but yours really hit me. I’m pregnant with my 2nd and scared to death. The mommy thing hit me hard with my first (she’s 16 months) and I still haven’t recovered. The wave analogy is good; maybe I’m fighting it. I long for the days when I did what I want, when I wanted and had a career and could travel. But in life, the past often seems better now than it was when it was the present. And I can’t imagine life without my daughter. I just can’t wait until I feel like myself again. So, Jessica, you’ve calmed my fears greatly as I think about #2 being here next year. I’m going to look for the shore this time around. Thanks to all who are posting.

  17. I think I chimed in last week on this subject. It took me months, probably a full year, to find my new normal and truly be happy with it. The new normal doesn’t have everything that the old normal had, but it incorporates the most important bits, albeit with some changes to accommodate the kids.For me, going back to work was a big part of the adjustment- for better or worse, my work is a large part of my identity, and I needed to see how to incorporate that into my post-baby identity. For me personally, I would have had a harder time adjusting if I’d been adjusting to being a SAHM in addition to adjusting to being a mom. Those of you who are doing that- go easy on yourselves! It is a major adjustment. I totally agree with the previous poster who said that it is a bit of a shock to go from having days with accomplishments the rest of the world acknowledges to having a goal of getting poop stains out of baby clothes… and not succeeding. One of the best things going back to work did for me was make me feel competent again. (BTW, someone turned me on to using bar soap like Ivory to get the poop stains out, and it works better than anything else I’ve tried.)
    My second daughter is just 2 months old, and I think one of the reasons I’ve had an easier time adjusting this time around is that I’ve already done the work of adding “mom” into my identity. I still occasionally look around and wonder “who are these little creatures who have strewn their toys around my living room, and when are they going home?” but for the most part, I feel like a mom and am just working on figuring out how to make things work with a second child to care for. Also, as someone up there said- it really helps to know that everything is just a phase. I’m less overwhelmed by the difficult things, because I know that they will pass.

  18. I agree with the comments I read so far. In my experience I felt overwhelmed the first year of motherhood but then thing started to come back into place. You will get your life back 🙂

  19. The first year was hard, yes. But it smoothed out surprisingly fast (we’re at 19 months now).And I think my son helped me think more broadly about my choices. I got a degree that goes with a particular kind of job. And there’s a huge amount of pressure to get that kind of job (check!) and then stay in it (check?).
    Once I reoriented my priorities to include my son’s life, it seemed a lot less obvious that I should accept the job because it was linked to my degree. Now, I’m considering a much wider variety of choices. So I think that being a mother has altered my thinking in ways that are good, not just “including professionally” but “especially professionally.”
    Also – and I don’t want to go negative but…ok let’s go negative! – be sure you distinguish between what’s gone in your *own* life and what’s gone because your friends can’t make the same changes. Some of my friends couldn’t cope with the adjustments that accompanied my pregnancy and my son. I don’t blame them, but I understand that some of the fun things I used to do are gone not because I’m not willing to play but because they aren’t.

  20. This is sort of a many-layered issue.When I was pregnant with my first, I couldn’t wait to get my body back to myself. I got a jogging stroller for that Christmas and an armband radio thingy. The physicalness and the touchiness of a new baby is big. I still get over-touched, and the kids are 7 and 2 this weekend. But then, on the other hand, it was so foreign to have the baby “so far away” in the bassinet at the foot of the bed. There’s no winning for losing, right?
    And there was kind of a fog where I didn’t realize that I wasn’t quite feeling like myself, but at about 8 months, all of a sudden, I was ready to pick up the things I did before.
    This being a mommy thing is weird. My daughter didn’t call me mommy first, she called me Cathy, like everyone else in the house. I did not call myself mommy to her and it sounded really strange to me when anyone else talked about me as mommy. When I realized that’s what she was saying, we worked on it. :^)
    And the last part is…the giving up of stuff. Dates without hassle, sleeping in on the weekends, sleeping through the night, etc. It took doing something with just my husband that we would normally have done with everyone (a trip to an amusement park), for me to realize that even for all of the percieved hassle, that is what I like better and want to do – go with them, be with them, take care of them, that I felt that feeling melt away.
    I think it’s fair to greive the change in your life – it’s a major transition. Just like you are going through a major transition in the first year of marriage or as you are deciding that you are not having any more kids. There were a few good books I read about it as I was getting married – let me find the titles.

  21. With the first, it really took a while to get out of the fog and start adjusting to the new normal. And to hit on something discussed in the Primal Scream post last week, it also took a while for me to really get interested in my work and career again, too. Definitely over a year, and even after 1.5 years I still didn’t feel like parts of my old self was back.After the second (almost 6 months ago), the fog has been clearing MUCH quicker and the adjustment from being a Mom to being a Mom of Two is going much smoother and quicker.
    So those considering having more than one, there is hope! Hang in there!
    Oh, and one last thing. I think even if people warn you and tell you all about it, even you understand the composition of the water and the size of the wave and know exactly what will happen… it STILL doesn’t prepare you for what it actually feels like when it hits and you have to sink or swim. You just don’t know until you’re in under the water. (Great analogy, Moxie!)

  22. I think the wave analogy is a good one. I’m just starting to figure out now, at 18 months for L, that the wave keeps coming, and keeps coming. Nice breaks in between. But you can be sure there will be another wave.For me, that back and forth, the two steps forward, one step back is probably the biggest adjustment for me. And I’m still not really comfortable with it / have a hard time accepting it.
    Challenges I can handle. It’s when the same issues (Hello not sleeping! Hello seperation anxiety! etc. etc.) keep coming back after we’ve worked through them and I’ve gotten better at managing them, but then they come back and it does feel like back to square one. I think it’s this feeling that I hate the most. (Though if I looked closely, I probably would find that I am slowly gaining knowledge and do manage better when the issues occur, but it’s still demoralising none the less).
    In pretty much all other areas of my life, I work hard to learn from mistakes and things that are not working, or things that are challenging and can be improved, so that I don’t have to keep re-visiting the same issue again and again. One thing I’ve learned about myself through a lot of introspection is that I have an insane ability to retain a great ‘mental muscle memory’, so that unconsciously I’m putting everything I’ve learned together and applying it to new situations. Which means, I’m realising as I write this, that I’m pretty much in control, even when I’m in a new or challenging situation.
    Ah ha! Well that’s the crux, isn’t it. Parenthood isn’t so much about control. Which is probably why I’m not comfortable with the round about loops in moving forward and having successes. When I’m in control, it’s more linear. From worst to bad to OK to better to best. Rarely does it go back to bad or worst for the same situation.
    In the low moments, I totally feel defeated, like the commenter from last week said. While I was pregnant, I knew my life would be different. And could imagine some of the ways. Quite frankly, it would annoy me when people would say ‘Oh, you’ll see, your life will change.’ And I would think, ‘Well,duh, I’m not thinking I’m going to keep my old life.’ What I don’t think I understood, and is really hard to understand until you live it, is all of the emotional work and challenges that are required of you as a parent. I like to think I’m pretty self-aware, and being a parent still throws me for a loop and brings up thoughts/feelings that I just did not anticipate.
    But, the good news (at least IME so far) is that it does get better overall. At 18 months I have much more of my ‘old’ life back. Or really it’s more of a new normal that encompasses more of what I had / did in the past.
    I just had a wave crest last night with feeling overwhelmed with work deadlines due before the holidays and loads of stuff to do for xmas, and feeling annoyed that yet again, this winter, we are not prepared enough in advance for the onslaught of foul weather (winter tires, closing down the deck, closing up the container gardens, etc.). I felt angry, useless, disorganized and discouraged. Yet, we managed to get the snow tires on this AM, the gardens & decks are done (at least well enough to survive the first snowfall until we can do a better job on the weekend) and oddly enough, all the snow has put me in a better mood – feels more like Christmas. Recovery time is getting better. And I have big hopes for next year. I’m scheduling all essential maintenance activities a full year in advance. Sometimes it’s still hard to remember that I can’t get as much done in as short of a period as I used to.
    My plan is essentially to continue to try to go with the flow, make small progresses, and enjoy the moments I can with my little guy.
    Anyhow, happy snowy day to those of you in the north east!

  23. Funnily enough, I’ve always used that exact analogy. (Well, if you can call the three years since my daughter was born “always). I tell people it’s like being dropped in the middle of the stormy sea, going under, fighting for breath, then resurfacing, slowly learning to swim – and eventually, slowly, you get the hang of it, and then you’re just playing in the surf, having fun!

  24. I have an amazing 3 1/2 year old daughter who is full of love, empathy and a joy to be around 85% of the time. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that I feel like I’m STILL treading water. Being the mother I wish to be is hard. I can see the shore, but it’s such a long ways away and I’m not sure my arms have the stamina to get me there. And these days it seems the closer I get to the shore the deeper I get caught in the undertow. Even though I’ve always been the go-with-the-flow type I too often feel as if I’m swimming against the tide. I try to just bob along and go where the current takes me but somedays the struggle to keep my head above water is too much.I never planned on a family and was on a different trajectory. I never wanted to give up who I was to become a mother. I do try to make sure that I get my needs taken care of but things are different now. Unfortunately I’m always the last on my list and there is never enough time for me. It wasn’t until my daughter was 2 before the fog began to lift for me. Once it did, things got better and I could see the shore line, but now I’m once again drifting out to sea and treading water. It could just be that this is a really tough age for my daughter and she won’t always be this demanding, stubborn and head strong. I’m holding out hope since many parents have told me that I’ll get a reasonable facsimile of my life back when she starts kindergarten.
    The wise woman in me knows that like all things, this too shall pass. I just get moored in the present sometimes and forget that everything with babies and children are phases and stages. I know when she is thirteen I will mourn this time of our lives just as I now mourn my life BC. Instead of wanting to spend every waking (and sleeping) moment with me I’ll be lucky if she even says hi to me. LOL!! And hopefully when she is an adult I will have taught/given her all the tools she requires to have all the strength she needs to tread the waters of life.
    I look forward to reaching the beach and basking in the sun with my amazing child beside me. May you all get there.
    Ps: Moxie, I hope your friend will be okay. And thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

  25. The first year was so hard– but things seemed to get exponentially easier when my son turned one. The honest truth is that I didn’t feel like myself physically until I stopped breastfeeding; of course, now I miss it, but still. Now my son is 2.5 and the rewards far outweigh the challenges–everything feels much easier.Here’s how I kept (regained?) my sanity:
    1) Finally letting go of the high stakes parenting mentality
    2) Full time day care starting at 6 months so that I could go back to school
    3) Frequent date nights with my husband– worth every baby-sitting penny
    4) Forging friendships with moms, keeping friendships with non-moms alive
    5) Exercise, but only the kind that actually makes me feel good, not the obsessive “I need to run X miles this week” kind
    6) When all else fails, when I’m not feeling up to it, popping in a dvd for E. and pouring a glass of wine for myself and taking a very deep breath helps a lot
    I also am lucky enough to have an amazing husband who is an equal co-parent in every sense. That might be more important than 1-6.
    I think we as individuals and as a society place too much emphasis on “snapping back to our old selves”. The celebrity Mom “she had a baby and 6 weeks later is wearing a tiny bikini” syndrome is just one symptom of a larger phenomenon. (Truly, is not the demand for immediate post-partum MILF-dom like some sort of 21st century corset? Whither spanx…) I know I certainly put a lot of pressure on myself to lose the baby weight, exclusively breastfeed, make my son’s baby food, obsess over his sleep schedule, keep the house tidy, excel in my studies, go out with my friends, get back to running, and, and , and…and I got sicker than I have ever been in my life (bowled over with fever & flu for 10 days) when my son was about 10 months old. Things can get pretty exhausting when you insist on being hard on yourself– in my case, my body decided to take over and put me on forced shutdown.
    I have a very, very wise graduate advisor (a man in his 60’s with kids) who kept pressing me to cut myself some slack. It finally sunk in. And you know what? When I did slow down and cut myself some slack and accept that I couldn’t do everything I used to at the same level, everything was still alright. Eventually I did lose the baby weight. And my son’s brain didn’t turn to mush from letting him watch cartoons for 10 minutes while I took a shower in the mornings. And while there are ways I’m not able to keep up with my younger grad student friends who have time to take on extra projects and more classes, in all the ways that matter (finishing requirements, progressing toward orals, etc.), I’m doing just fine. In fact, now that I’m slowly getting over not being perfect, I’m able to see that I’m doing pretty damn great.
    This, too, shall pass. Don’t feel bad for not loving motherhood in the first year– many, many, many women feel as you do. Repeat like a mantra: “it’s time to cut myself some slack”. The time that your kids are completely dependent on you is short– you’ll be back on the horse (or another horse, or maybe you’ll take up bicycling) soon enough.

  26. Wow! This topic really hits home with me. Thanks to everyone for sharing. My sons are 14 months and 28 months, and I feel like I’m just now coming out of the fog of survival mode. I’m learning to accept my life and enjoy what I can. The process is ongoing.

  27. I love the analogy, although I have to add that there are rare times when I’ve been able to harness the energy of the wave and surf it, the exhilaration and feeling of triumph is unlike any I’ve ever felt. (Examples: when I successfully reason with the toddler, or when he’s talkative, entertaining, helpful, engaged: all the things I could not have expected when he was younger.)I too have felt overwhelmed with day-to-day life with my 2 kids, but I try not to see my life as an endless grind of meaningless tasks (which it sometimes is: breastfeed, rinse, repeat in 2 hours X for the forseeable future. Same with laundry, picking up the living room, telling the toddler that spitting is gross, etc.), but just a lot of small tasks that will, hopefully, lead me to a place where I myself have CHOSEN to go. (I think women of my mother’s generation–or at least my mother–never felt these choices were hers and this feeling of choice makes a big difference.)
    Which is not to say I have my s%@# together about anything, including my career, my kids or my marriage. It’s all a work in progress, just like me–parenthood has stretched me in ways I wasn’t expecting (insert literal pun about my belly) and in some ways I was. I’m finding the journey more enjoyable now that I think I’m on the last baby. When times get bad, I think of something I read in the comments here (I’m sorry I can’t remember who or where!) that however bad life gets with a baby, it’s better than having no baby (which I always interpret as: if one had a miscarriage, esp one late in a pregnancy).

  28. I didn’t feel connected and start to relax with my child until the first year had passed…I was so stressed out about doing things wrong that I couldn’t enjoy it fully. I will always regret that, but I have a second child, very different from the first, and I’m trying to accept all the difficulties that comprise the first year and know that they will end and that I’ll enjoy it more and more each day.

  29. I like the wave metaphor a lot. It was certainly like that for me, and I didn’t discover Moxie until Mouse was 2 1/2! As a yoga person (do I still get to say that when I only get a few minutes a day? sigh) it helped me a lot to think of the repetitions in terms of practice. Not practice in terms of preparing for the real thing, but practice in terms of something that you do because you have decided to do it, that you do over and over again, that you will continue to do even after (if) you “get it right” because that is what you do.There are moments in any practice when you can’t stand it any more – I vividly remember saying to one of my teachers, only half laughing, “but I’ve done this! I’ve done it over and over! do I really have to do this again??!” and her answer was “did you wake up in earth time today? then yes, you have to do it again.” This continues to help me with things that come up over and over. For example,we decided not to spank before we even had a kid, and I assumed that was that. But I never realized how often I could get frustrated enough, and not know what to do enough, to feel the impulse to hit something…and that choice is before me again. Keeping faith with the practice of gentle discipline that we’ve chosen makes me OK with having to revisit the choice and make the right one again. Thinking of nursing as a practice helped a great deal too.
    There was a great article in Brain, Child a few years ago about looking openly at the actual costs of motherhood–financial, physical, emotional (here it is: http://www.brainchildmag.com/essays/spring2004_feature.htm ) and one of the conclusions it came to was that there is a big difference when your last child gets to kindergarten. For me, that seems to be true. It’s different having a schoolkid. Hectic, but different. I’m too busy but I’m more myself as a mother than I’ve ever been.
    (Was that remotely coherent? Sorry!)

  30. This was brought up in a previous post, but 1st baby was a breeze, #2 has me under-under-under. Wave after wave, have to time it just right to get a breath of air, my legs are tiring from swimming through the waves. I am just plain burnt out and sick of my mom job. I know this is what I want–staying home w/ the kids–more than going back to work, but right now we’re in some rough seas.We need to find a babysitter soon.
    Great analogy. Thanks to all posters, commiseration etc always helps.

  31. Yup, and I’m getting ready to hold my breath and go under again. I’ve got a 2.5yo who will be almost *exactly* 3yo when this baby is born. I’m only 11 weeks, and I’m struggling with the fatigue and nausea that I had with my first pgcy.I agree with other posters who have said that at least with the 2nd, you sort of know what’s coming, and the sense of self, the ‘who the heck was I before I was this breastfeeding pillow for this baby?’ feeling. This time I know it will pass, and even if it takes almost 2 years, this baby will eventually let me sleep through the night, will eventually wean and learn to talk.
    Although I did swear this time that if this pgcy was as hard as the first, all we’d do as a couple would be gestate and take care of kiddo #1. Instead, I’m baking like a madwoman for Xmas, wrapping and decorating (this is my break from finishing the mantle!), and we are still finishing the basement! because gestating or not, it just HAS to get done.
    I do wonder though how, when I feel like I’m already just treading water, I will manage with two kids. I think back to how much I slept (during the day) and nursed with baby #1 and just think of how on earth I’m going to handle feeding and taking #2 to the things that she does and stuff like that. All my friends with two have told me that you just adjust and what was hard becomes easy (like taking just ONE kid to the store isn’t such a big deal) and then there’s the new ‘hard.’
    Phew.

  32. I’m bookmarking this post… maybe printing it and all the comments out to carry around on bad days.To stick with Moxie’s analogy, I have days where I feel like a mermaid, and days where I feel like I’m drowning. What keeps me going is that the “mermaid” times are happening more often (my girl is now 20 months old) and the “drowning” feelings are happening less often, and most of the time even if I don’t feel completely like a mermaid, I can cope with those waves. During most of Year 1, though, it was a huge struggle to survive.

  33. I think becoming a mother stretches you. And that’s painful. We use “muscles” we never knew we had, running a race we had no way to train for. Running is hard, hard, hard, then a little less hard, then easier, then joyful.I think expectations get in the way of joy. I, like most women of this generation, expected so much from my 1st chance at mothering. My expectations of myself were even higher. And my son knocked every one down. He didn’t do anything the same way a “typical” baby would. My maternity leave felt like sheer boredom and drudgery occasionally punctuated by happiness. I would linger picking him up at daycare because I dreaded going home and facing the night.
    But we progressed. He progressed. The joyful moments started outweighing the drudgery. Now he’s almost 4, and I would say it’s 90% joy.
    Having #2, I dialed my expectations down to zero, and I have enjoyed her babyhood so much more. Figuring out the details of having 2 still kicked my butt, but 8 months in, I feel good about it. And sad that she’s my last.
    I found some old emails of mine, pre-baby, in which I was whining to a friend about my life. My free and easy, pre-kid life in which I could do whatever I chose! We think that everything was so easy before, but was it, really?
    One thing I know for sure: motherhood has changed me. Yes, I could have had a happy life without kids, but I feel like now my highs are higher (and the lows are lower, too). It’s like the part in the Wizard of Oz when it turns from black and white to a color movie. There’s magic here.

  34. first time commenter here. just printed this and will carry it with me. baby #2 is due jan 22 and i remember feeling the above with baby #1 vividly. it’s challenging but #1 is almost 1 now (i know, crazy) but i’ve learned to embrace it.really. thanks.
    that was beautifully written.

  35. I am drowning. Will it get better? WILL IT? My son just turned a year old and I’m still drowning. Every day I feel like I’m totally lost. My marriage is a wreck, my son doesn’t sleep anymore unless he is attached to my boob andI feel so disconnected. This is not what I wanted, envisioned, dreamed of. How did this happen? Will it get better? How much longer do I have to hold on? I’m so tired of treading water and I feel myself giving up. I feel like a failure. How come I can’t do this?

  36. @ DrowningYES. It will get better. You can do it because you ARE doing it.
    The boob thing – I hear ya sista. We co-slept until JC was 15 months old. At about year he was all boob all the time at night and starting about 4a we started having this insane slapfight.
    He’d grab my shirt and tug.
    I’d be 80% asleep and stop him.
    Tug
    Stop
    Tug
    Stop
    FINE (he gets boob, dried out from the previous EIGHT F#*%&!ING HOURS of just hanging out there and I’d get those awful dried out spine tingles). He’d fall into a deeper sleep and drift off the boob.
    Tug
    Stop
    Tug
    Stop
    OMFG FINE!
    Lather rinse repeat.
    Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with 4 nights at home and without work on the horizon I suprised Mister and said – ok – here is what we’re gonna do (modified CIO).
    Handed JC a blanket and sparkle cat (2 items he didn’t give a flying fig about but DARNIT BOY YOU WILL HAVE A LOVEY NOW!!!).
    It took 45 minutes.
    The next night it took 15.
    The next night he grabbed sparkle cat and my hand and dragged me to his room.
    YMMV but it will get better.

  37. Last night, my almost 3 year old daughter went to bed at 6:45 because she was sick. My husband and I sat down to our first childless dinner in 3 years! What a treat. It reminded me how I spent my time differently pre-parenthood. And it also reminded me that ‘this too shall pass.’I love the wave analogy. As another commenter said, I’ve really tried to learn and absorb that each of these trying moments is a phase. I had to change a diaper today at preschool, something I’ll be doing soon as baby #2 is due in Feb. I had oh so quickly forgotten about it as my daughter is close to potty training. Another reminder of phases that come and go.
    What has helped me is not trying to pretend that I am the same person that I was before. I’m not, I’m a mother now. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t like the same things. Like marriages and love and family, being you takes work.. keeping up old friendships, getting out on dates, going back to work, and building a whole new parent community.
    I try to remind myself and friends that whatever age we are– 25, 30, 25, 40– we are still only a 1 year old mommy, or 3 year old. We haven’t been doing this forever.
    I hope that I can float and swim like a mermaid when the next one comes.

  38. @Drowning – It really does get better! Hang in there! I think it’s especially tough when you have a child who is not a good sleeper. But just keep on treading and you will see that slowly it really does get better. Not all at once, and it does backtrack, but overall better definitely.Whoever said the two steps forward, one step back was right on IME.
    But now, having been through tough times with my older child, I’m able to look forward to when both of my kids are older. I often talk to my husband about what I’m going to do when I get time for me back. I’ve already even joined a book club that meets about once every 6 weeks! And when the kids are a couple years older, I have such Plans for Things To Do! (They are actually really small things I would barely have given a second thought to doing pre-kids, but now seem so exciting and huge to plan for.)
    So my point is it really will get better. And at some point you will think about the things you will get to do for yourself and realize that you will be able to do them again. And things will seem brighter, even if you can’t actually do them yet, because you know you will be able to.

  39. I really thought I was prepared for motherhood. I had been a babysitter and nanny to infants and toddlers. I loved it; I loved them. I always wanted to be a mother, and was so happy and excited when I was pregnant. And yet – Moxie is totally right. Nothing prepared me for it. nothing could have prepared me for it. It was such a shock – losing my life so completely. I had seen friends seemingly balance motherhood and lives so easily, I thought it was easy, until it was me. Part of the complicating factor for me was having my child in a place with no support network. I think the shock would have been less brutal if I’d been surrounded by friends and family. I spent the first six months of DS’s life fighting him to sleep and getting spit up on. I mourned – and still mourn – my childless life, particularly my relationships with my husband. It’s not bad now, but we never used to fight or have problems, we spent so much time together! Now it’s like we’re strangers who live in the same house.I know it’s one of the cliches that everyone HATES, but my mom said to me when my son was 5 months old and not sleeping well, “It goes so fast, just enjoy it.” I don’t know why, but when she said that I took it in, and felt it, and let go of my need to control his sleep, and I stopped crying and started enjoying him so much more! And was able to figure out ways to get him to sleep better, to boot.
    But regaining myself comes in stages – for me in some ways it’s separate from how much I enjoy my son. Each stage has had its own joy, and each intensifies as it comes. At the same time, I still feel the shock and mourning, in different ways. At 12 months I started feeling like MYSELF, what a relief. But I really believe that coming to terms with parenthood is a process that can take years, as other posters have said. Now we’re expecting #2 and it’s starting all over again. I might have to give up my career this time. It’s hard.
    What I wanted to say mostly, I guess, is that the joy and the struggle can co-exist – one doesn’t necessarily drive out the other. We can acknowledge them both, and that might bring some relief to the ginormous expectations we all carry of what it means to be a mother.

  40. @ Drowning: I don’t know your particular situation, I just wanted to say that often we feel like we’re failing because our expectations are so outsized. We have this vision of what it means to be a mother – effortless, graceful, always gentle, wise, loving, patient, in control, organized, etc. And it’s not like that. It just isn’t. It’s *hard* and we scream at our children and resent them and want to be free and want something for *ourselves*. Be gentle with yourself. You aren’t failing.

  41. Am I the only one that feels the second year is so much harder than the first? I think my son was a relatively easy baby, or at least, I could always count on his needs being either to sleep, to eat, to cuddle, or to walk around looking at new things. Now? At 18 months? Half the time I have no idea what he’s trying to so hard to tell me and usually if I do figure it out, it’s something that he simply cannot do or have because it’s dangerous, and we both get so frustrated. Being a mom to a toddler has been so much harder than being a mom to a baby. And my son sleeps all night, so that isn’t the problem. I am trying to enjoy the now — he is quite funny and terribly cute, so that helps immensely, but I really miss the itty bitty baby stage.

  42. Moxie, I LOVE the analogy. Totally works for me. I have twins and that’s my excuse for feeling like it wasn’t really until they were past 2 that I came up for more than gasping breaths. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I was actually ENJOYING motherhood until they hit 3.It’s kind of sad when I look at that statement written as simply as that, but it’s true.
    @Drowning: It usually DOES get better. Sleep deprivation, like others have said, is the WORST. It is the most brutal form of torture (quite literally) and will wreck your emotional stability and suck the joy out of life. I hope you get some much-deserved sleep. In the meantime, you’ve reached out to this group, maybe you can take one more step and reach out for some professional help and/or help from friends and family. We ALL need it at some time. What your feeling is totally normal, but it CAN be better if you get some help. You aren’t failing (unless we ALL are…). I really hope it gets better soon for you.

  43. Therapy, and then when my baby started to sleep through the night.Then several years later I had my second child, and I realized that it was not just that I was adjusting to motherhood, but that I had a REALLY, REALLY, DIFFICULT BABY!
    Parenting my second child is so radically different from my first I sometime wonder if they are they same species.
    When I first came to this realization when my second was a newborn, I resented my first for a while. “You didn’t have to be difficult. I didn’t have to be that depressed” Parenting her as an infant felt a little like being in an abusive relationship.
    As they get older I found that working part time is what keeps me happy. I need a little adult time, and time to actually accomplish a task, to help me feel good. Admitting that took months of therapy. I really wanted to be a full time stay at home mom, but it just wasn’t working.

  44. This is well timed for me today. I actually have a 4 year old and I’m no longer mourning the “me time” so much – our family’s restructured okay and it’s a joy at home.It’s at work that I’m struggling. I used to be the most on top of everything, and now I’m not. I feel like I don’t entirely have the skill of how to keep working even when I’ve messed up, not once, but a few times. I really like the wave analogy; I will have to see if I ride it or if it’s just not going to work out.
    I do wonder if anyone has insight into why right now in history parenting seems to be such a tidal wave. Is it that we watched too much TV as kids and thought it would be easier?

  45. @drowning – I was still an absolute mess at one year. Baby didn’t sleep well, didn’t talk, barely walked and I was IT 90% of the time. It gets better. I am still IT but the demands are less draining for some reason. Maybe because he is mobil? Your son will sleep more. He will wean one day and your new normal will be something you can tolerate and may even enjoy. I am much happier with a toddler than I ever was with T as a baby. My baby cried all.the.time and never slept. My toddler is funny and smart and yes he tantrums and sometimes it is still HARD and I still don’t get enough sleep but it is ever so much more enjoyable!!!

  46. @Raia- I think it depends on what kind of baby you have. My first daughter was a very difficult baby- hard to settle, high energy, low sleep needs. My second daughter is the quintessential “easy baby”. I am sure she’ll still be a handful at 18 months- that is just a hard time! If my first had been like my second, I could see thinking that the second year was harder.I’m not sure if that made any sense. I hope it did!
    Anyway, I found 2 to be a WONDERFUL age. Until we hit 2.5, but let’s not talk about that.
    It might help you to go read Isabel’s post about the 18-21 month developmental leap, over at Child of Mind: http://www.isabelagranic.com/bed-timing/2009/04/1821-months-the-mother-of-all-developmental-transitions.html
    It is not you. It is the age.

  47. Oh, and @Drowning- yes, it will get better. Even the most difficult child eventually sleeps.My first was a difficult sleeper, and was up literally 5x a night for awhile. Finally, at about 10 months, we tried nightweaning. We actually just managed to get her down to one wake up per night, but that was enough to save my sanity.
    If you’re interested in trying it, you can search Moxie’s archives for ideas- that is where I found the method we used. I also posted about it at the time:
    http://wandsci.blogspot.com/2008/01/nightweaning.html
    FWIW- she dropped the last feeding about a year later. That involved bringing her into our bed with us, which lasted for maybe 4-6 months. She started sleeping through the night in her own bed sometime not long after her second birthday.
    If you’re not up for nightweaning, maybe you can brainstorm some ideas with your partner for how to get you some sleep? As Bella said above, sleep deprivation is literally torture and will make everything else seem worse. You aren’t a “bad mother” or “weak” because you need to find a way to get more sleep.

  48. See, I was going to attempt to say so many of the things you all have already said here oh so much more eloquently than I could have. I think that must mean what you’re reading here is the true reality of how it usually is with motherhood. (Though I believe there are some people who don’t experience any volatility at all when they become moms. I’m surprised they haven’t commented yet about feeling left out of this thread.) Anyway, it is good to not feel so alone, no? I wish more mamas IRL would feel like they can be vulnerable & keep it real about how hard this is.@Drowning – You most definitely are not alone.
    @the milliner – “I felt angry, useless, disorganized and discouraged.” Me, too. I actually get really sad inside when I come across decor blogs showing all of these lovely, organized living spaces because I know transforming our home into such a place right now with 2 under 3 is a total pipe dream. Oh, and I get super duper double sad/mad? when the person living there has kids the same age as mine. Odd, but that is what I fixate on sometimes.
    @anotherredhead – “The wise woman in me knows that like all things, this too shall pass. I just get moored in the present sometimes and forget that everything with babies and children are phases and stages.” Totally. You know that expression ‘Youth is wasted on The Young’? Sometimes I think there must be a corollary, ‘Babies are wasted on the New Parents.’
    @Jessica – “Truly, is not the demand for immediate post-partum MILF-dom like some sort of 21st century corset? Whither spanx…” YES!!!!!!!! Funny, but true. Though I confess to owning a pair of Spanx (they do work wonders), and to having those awful mommy cards as someone else mentioned. And if I were on FB, I’m sure my photo would be one of my kids instead of me! These cringe-worthy things are all symptomatic for me of my post-kids identity crisis.
    @Anon – “All my friends with two have told me that you just adjust and what was hard becomes easy (like taking just ONE kid to the store isn’t such a big deal) and then there’s the new ‘hard.'” YES! I’m 2 months in to the “New Hard” (I like how you put that). It’s like someone suddenly took away the little orange floaties I was wearing on my arms to learn how to swim. But at the same time I kind of expected they would.

  49. @hush- you know that those people with kids and organized living spaces just cleaned up before the TV crews came, right? I mean, my living space has the potential to be organized, but on a day to day basis- its chaos.

  50. @hush – I *might* be one of those people who didn’t experience too much volatility at the inception of parenthood … but I think that had a LOT to do with my pre-baby life. I do not identify with the post title “I Had A Life I Liked Before.” I was NOT satisfied doing the career thing and definitely felt a void that I wanted to fill with children. Once my first arrived, it became crystal clear to me that I was born to be a mother — I am satisfied and fulfilled by parenthood like I never was by my previous life. In addition, my DH blossomed into a magnificent father, so that improved our relationship too. I feel 100% like I’m fulfilling my calling by being a SAHM, so I’ve never longed for that previous identity.That’s not to say I don’t miss sleeping in and eating in restaurants, etc. But I VASTLY prefer motherhood to that lifestyle, even though I think living alone and doing the single-girl-career thing for many years was essential to my complete self-actualization.
    And that’s also not to say I don’t find motherhood difficult. But like I said — on its most difficult day, it’s preferable to my life “before.” I was happy to leave that life in the dust. I am so much more fully “myself” now. MaggieDammit said it perfectly, “I gave birth to my children, but THEY delivered ME.”

  51. When my husband and I went to Hawaii (pre-baby), I experienced this very thing! On the beach, my husband met the wave head-on and swam through them to emerge calmly on the other side. I, on the other hand, fought every wave that came my way. I got knocked down time and time again, losing 2 pairs of sunglasses in the process. My husband kept telling me to relax, to just go with how the wave was carrying me, but I just didn’t really get it. I fought, but the waves won every time!Fast forward a year and this is exactly how we reacted with our baby. My husband totally rolled with the punches and just met challenges head on. I, on the other hand, dug in my heels and fought, fought, fought to maintain my own life. I demanded to feel like I was still on dry land. I fought, but the baby won every time! It was a very very hard year for me.
    Now baby is 3 (I guess not a baby anymore? Sad.) and things a much much better. I can say now that I am actually enjoy my new life and I’m learning to become a mermaid. To all those who have new babies – hang in there, it does get so much better!
    Question for everyone – how much of this struggle do you discuss with people who are thinking of having kids or are pregnant? I was very very honest with a few close friends in the past and I just got horrified looks and disbelief. I mean, isn’t having kids supposed to be pure bliss??? And then I just felt like a total party pooper.

  52. I cried as I read these comments today. Just another crying session to top my day off, but it felt cleansing and comforting to know that there are so many of us struggling with this gift we’ve been given, motherhood.To @Drowning-I feel your pain and your need for connection. With a 3 year old and a 6 month old my struggles seem to be reciprocal and I feel desperate and out of control sometimes. The yelling gets to be to much, I get impatient and I crave sleep. But these moments are small and fleeting as I remind myself of the big picture and that is the unequivocal love I feel for these boys, the privilege of raising them, learning from them, being their mom is the best thing on earth. Snapping out of it sometimes is only a yoga pose, a bounce on my knee, or a nice big glass of red wine away….
    You are not alone sister…..

  53. I am in the waves right now. A 1 year old and 2 year old consumes our lives. I miss “us” and I miss “me”. Struggling to find an identity as “family of four”.

  54. I just read a truly incredible book called “Stunned: The New Generation of Women Having Babies, Getting Angry, and Starting a Mother’s Movement.” http://www.amazon.com/Stunned-Generation-Getting-Creating-Movement/dp/0757307833/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259483138&sr=8-1It talks about the inequities so many women face when becoming mothers. We think we’ve got our careers and our feminism all figured out, and this motherhood stuff changes everything in ways we never saw possible, mostly because the establishment isn’t set up fairly for us. We don’t realize until we become mothers that GETTING to do it all might mean HAVING to do it all.
    And short answer – yes, I’ve been there. Not sure if I’ve ever met a mother who hasn’t been there. The best way to survive is to find other mothers experiencing the same self-doubt and despair, and wrap their support around you like a shelter from the storm.
    I’m told this will pass. With 2 boys under 4, I have yet to see it, but I keep hoping.

  55. To MrsHaley: Thank you for your comments! It’s like you took the words right out of my mouth. You summed it up perfectly: “And that’s also not to say I don’t find motherhood difficult. But like I said — on its most difficult day, it’s preferable to my life “before.” I was happy to leave that life in the dust. I am so much more fully “myself” now..”

  56. Possum was as unplanned as a baby can be. I was 19, still living with my Mum, still at uni with years to go on my degree. He was not an easy baby, or an easy toddler, and he’s not an east pre-schooler. We recently found out Possum is Autistic so he wont be easy, ever.Bug was planned, he is easy, he is charming and lovely and so far no signs of Autism.
    I love them both, so much. Even though it has been hard, and is hard, and will be hard, I don’t want my old life, and I don’t want to be my old self. If it weren’t for my children there are things I never would have faced or done or learned.
    Of course, I would like more freedom sometimes, and more sleep, and always more time (one day I’d like to travel overseas); but on good days like today I’m happy to wait. On bad days like yesterday I cry, eat chocolate and read AskMoxie comments all day. Sometimes I fight with my husband, or throw my phone against the wall, but on good days like today I visit a friend and have a cuddle with my beautiful boys.
    It helps for me to have such a supportive Mum and MIL. Especially my MIL. She was only 18 when she had DH, but now she is happy, has finished uni, is working and enjoying her life.
    It helps having a place like AskMoxie, where even though everyone here is on the other side of the world we are all working through the same problems and issues, and in some small way we are working through together.

  57. Jsut wanted to add:Moxie, I’m so sorry to hear your friend’s going through a difficult (dangerous!) situation right now. Will definitely keep her in my prayers.

  58. As a total introvert and someone who needs alone time/down time/ME time – motherhood for the first three years has been an incredibly difficult state of being. I have experienced the entire spectrum of normal first-time mom emotions, from bliss and contentment to resentment and anger. Bad PPD and PTSD have both magnified all of these feelings to nearly unbearable levels. Add to that the guilt of sometimes resenting my hard-fought, hard-won IVF baby and it has been hard.But – as previous women have stated – I can’t imagine life without this little person in it. She is a true soulmate and a constant source of love. She’s also a source of hilarious entertainment that only a 3 year old can provide.
    Yes, sometimes I fantasize about running away. The fantasy almost always involves the tropics, and I am absolutely, completely and always *alone* in the fantasy. But fantasy can never match reality, which is far more engaging and wonderful.
    Your friend is normal. She does need prayers and positive thoughts – but so do we all.

  59. @raia – Yes, I totally found that year two was harder — 18 months to 2.5 kicked. my. ass. Completely. It didn’t help that my boy was not a sleeper, so I didn’t have the energy to stay calm in the face of my tiny, melting-down, ball of obsessive compulsivenes. But I think it would have kicked my ass anyway — aside from the sleep, my boy was a pretty contented baby (yes, I did feel I lost myself, but because he was so happy to just hang out in the sling and be wherever I was, I could still *do* stuff, if you know what I mean, even if it wasn’t always the stuff I did before). At 18 months, well he got an opinion about things, and he’s been pretty solidly sure of his opinions ever since. Seeing as the apple did not fall far from the tree (opinionated, moi?) we have had many a head-butting moment this last year, of which I am not proud. However, two things have helped: I’ve recently gone back and re-read my “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen…” (and Alfie Kohn and Haim Ginott and P.E.T. and all the rest) and (when I remember, and when I have the energy, and when I can stop myself melting down too) I am trying to listen and tune in to him — he does really respond well when he knows that you are listening and you care that he is sad or angry (*and* you don’t actually have to un-break the cookie to make it all better, which I was trying to do for a long time — just the listening and making sure he knows that I do actually understand that he’s pissed off about something seems to help). And the other thing: he just turned three, and I dunno — he just seems so much more contented again. And yes, at 18 months three seems like, oh, 700 years away, but it comes. I still don’t have my old life back yet (bits of it, but not all, and not even some of the bits that I would really, really like back), but the new life has a person in it that I’m discovering I would choose to hang out with. On purpose! So, hang in there, it will get better!Oh, and @caramama: His third birthday was Tuesday, and last night HE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT. I read your post from before and didn’t want to hold out any hope that he might actually sleep, but he did! Of course I didn’t. And of course now that I’ve told the internets about it, he won’t sleep through again until I send him off to university…

  60. @Charise- I love what you said about the daily practice of parenting, particularly in relation to the gentle discipline thing. I have that conversation with myself about three times every single day.My son has just turned three and I finally feel like I’m coming up for air. Age 2 to 3 overwhelmed me. Why didn’t I drown? I thought I was going to! It was nothing I did. It just passed I think.
    He’s three now and he sometimes sleeps through the night. And lo and behold my memory is working again and I can read entire books and hold conversations with people. And my partner and I are gradually beginning to like each other again.
    I don’t know if it’s my old life again. How can it ever be? But I’m starting to recognise myself again. It feels good.

  61. @Kyma, re: how much of this struggle do you discuss with people who are thinking of having kids or are pregnant?In the last year I’ve been quite honest with anyone who bothered asking. I’ve gotten a few stay-the-hell-away-from-this-unhinged-woman looks. I don’t care. I wish someone had told me!

  62. I hated being a mom. I wrote “I hate being a mom” in Google one night, then wrote it to a forum and was showered with hate back. I hated my husband for making me a mom. Before we got married I said, “don’t ever ask me to have kids”. My resentment nearly ruined our very, very good marriage.I would literally test myself regularly saying,” would I miss her if she was gone forever, today?” For months the crushing answer was no.
    Its called an adjustment disorder. What you have to grasp is that it will NEVER go back to what it was. For this I am taking medication, and I got some therapy; but the true benefit came from medication and exercise. I didn’t bond for 10 months. I faked it. Faking it helped make it real. I reminded myself to kiss her every time I picked her up. I forced myself to narrate my nearly every move to her. When she woke up from her nap, I picked her up saying “I’M your mommy”. We paid a next door neighbor to watch her just so we could go for a 45 minute walk together in the evening.
    I am so much better. She’s almost 4. My marriage is still difficult in that I don’t trust my husband to have sex with my stress fattened body. we don’t have sex. But we are best friends again, tho the anger bubbles up.
    Your baby needs you and daddy, but you don’t have to be perfect.
    your job is to keep you BOTH alive.

  63. Can I identify with both the struggling moms and the ones who felt like they were born to be moms? I’m not the ambitious sort professionally, and I knew that I wanted to be a SAHM. No regrets there. But the first six months in particular was SO HARD. And I did feel like, WHY had no one TOLD me it would be like this??I realized later that my first daughter was a difficult baby. She had reflux, and she did not sleep through the night until after one year…was up three times a night for a long time. And she has an intense, extroverted personality, from birth on (I’m an introvert). So MANY tantrums, and they are ALL so loud.
    What helped: a nap and bedtime schedule that was rigorously adhered to from about 6 mo. or so. We’re still a bit draconian about bedtime for my now-7-yr-old, because she does NOT function well with too little sleep, and the child does not sleep past 7 am (most mornings it’s 6:15-30), no matter how late she’s been up the night before. Also? I NEED alone time and quiet time. Nap (for baby) and a decent bed time (for both kiddos) give me that.
    The difference between my first and second daughters as babies was incredible. My second would lie in a bassinet or her car seat in the kitchen (awake) and actually be content for 20 minutes or so during dinner! My MIL (whose own stories of colicky babies were so comforting with my first) and I just stood there and stared at this happy baby. “Never saw THAT before,” she said.
    Sometimes I think about clueing in expectant mothers, but my first seemed so different than other babies that I wasn’t sure my experience was normative. The most I’ve said is that those first few months are like parenting boot camp. I say it to indicate that it will be hard, but also that it will get better. SO MUCH better.

  64. Moxie- i prayed for K.thanks for this post.
    i have read about 1/2 the comments-
    and the one that sticks with me is the one mentioning the *illusion of control* we thought we had prior to children.
    much of my journey has been about letting go of control.
    seems like most of us hit this wall earlier than later in our parenting journeys.
    keep up the great work.
    Mommy’s change the world.

  65. Sometimes I can let the wave pass over me, and I try to remember to not fight it, but I’m a fighter by nature and I keep assuming that things will get easier and.they’re.not. My 3yr old is my joy – he’s a frustrating-at-times joy, but I’m deeply bonded with him. My 5yr old I don’t think I’ve ever bonded with and things are so hard with/for him (birth complications, ADHD). It’s so hard to love him. I do, but most of the time it hurts. I hate that. I’m fighting it – trying to figure him out and our relationship and how to make us both/all happier. I feel like I’m drowning, and always have, where he’s concerned. I can come up for air just barely enough to survive, but… As much as I tell myself that I’ll get through this, I ask myself how much more I can take.

  66. I (we, husband included) experienced the complete shock as well. We have a daughter who had major sleep problems, due to something with digestion/constipation. She would scream a lot during the day and we just dreaded night. I won’t even start in on the night time. Then one day it finally got better around 16 months. But she still slept poorly compared to most (and still does)! I think it was the severe sleep deprivation that really got to us. My husband and I went from a great couple to talking divorce. My husband went from the kindest most patient person I’ve ever known to a grouchy man who would get so upset, he’d punch his fist through closet doors. I also changed. It was so hard. Somehow, we stayed patient and kind with our daughter, realizing that she couldn’t help it. I’m happy to say that now we’re recovering and our daughter is absolutely amazing to us. She is 3.5 and I’d have to say we’ve felt this way about her for a good year and a half now! Of course I’ve always loved her, but I now feel that amazing mom love that everyone always talks about. I truly can’t imagine life without her now, when early on I JUST WANTED MY LIFE BACK! I still can’t imagine going for #2–it was always our plan, but after this first experience I think our family is set! I wish my husband and I could get our mojo back, it’s just not the same.

  67. Things changed for me definitely. But as an earlier commenter said, This too shall pass. And then you are still there. It is important to remember that you are still you. And there are ways to achieve that. Your relationship with your partner is still crucial, as is your relationship with yourself. I confess that I returned to work after each of my kids were born – my career is not the same it would have been but it’s still there in a different form. Take time to look at what is still important to you, whether it’s reading the NYT or painting or whatever and do that. Not everything has to be about the baby.

  68. @Erika – “Yes, sometimes I fantasize about running away. The fantasy almost always involves the tropics, and I am absolutely, completely and always *alone* in the fantasy. But fantasy can never match reality, which is far more engaging and wonderful.” EXACTLY!@kyma – I am generally very honest about my struggles and enjoyment of parenthood with parent-to-bes. I do preface it with the fact that my daughter was not an easy baby or good sleeper, so they probably won’t have my issues. But I am very honest that I found it difficult, but I really try hard to balance it with how wonderful my child is and being a parent is. Also, I laugh about it while saying it’s freaking hard. I think it helps others hear you joke about it and lighten it somehow, while still being honest.
    @TheFeministBreeder – “We think we’ve got our careers and our feminism all figured out, and this motherhood stuff changes everything in ways we never saw possible, mostly because the establishment isn’t set up fairly for us.” AMEN!
    @Cassieblanca – Yeah for at least one night of him sleeping through! I hope that you haven’t jinxed it and that you get at least a few more before he goes off to university. hehe.
    @Lisa – I’m so sorry for your struggles. I’m glad you are getting help. And thanks for putting your story out there so others will know that sometimes it’s something more than just missing your old life.

  69. I absolutely get the analogy. I actually used the wave analogy to get through my contractions during labor – and then was amazed how many times the imagery helped me the first year of motherhood.Now I have a 19 month old, and it is getting a bit better. The awesome moments are happening with more frequency.
    We’ve touched on what to say to people looking at having their first. My question to all of you with more than one – what do you tell those of us that know what it’s really like and are wondering whether to have another?
    We’re in discussions for trying for #2 in a few months. We’re older and our window will close in the next year or two. Logically I tell myself that I can suck it up for another couple of years and that investment will pay off big down the road. But another part of me is so happy to finally feel good about the new normal – to feel like I actually exist again. Knowing what I know now, can I willingly do it again?
    When I let myself think about #2, I want to know who this new person is – I want to see my son loving him or her and see them growing up together.
    But I finally just got within sight line of shore. I’m not sure I can do it again.

  70. @meggiemoo: “I think expectations get in the way of joy.” The simplicity and pure truth of this sentence is rocking my world today. Thank you.@drowning: I was you when my first was a year, and beyond. The sleep deprivation was the single hardest thing I’ve ever been through.The only thing that got me was letting her cry it out. I was against it. My LLL mindset said, “Sleep with her, nurse her, nurture her…” but I was tired and depressed began resent her and everyone around me. I remember looking at people’s homes while driving home from a weekend away when she was about 8 weeks old and wondering, “I wonder if they sleep at night…” It consumed me, and yet, I made it through and did it all over again 4 years later, without such striking difficulties. Be kind to yourself and don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about medication if you think you may be depressed.

  71. @hush – are we living parallel lives? I have constant fantasies about all the changes I can make around house, how I can re-decorate to make it kid and adult pleasing.And never mind my fantasies of what I can make for L to play with, to wear, to decorate his room. It’s a disease. My mind just goes and imagines these amazing things, and then I’m confronted with the harsh reality that I can barely get the laundry done, or the bills paid, let alone start a new project. Which is to say, it’s kind of depressing!
    And I just have one. We’re two adults to one kid (well and a dog and a cat to be fair), and we can’t even find the time between us to keep up. I’ve already pared down my Xmas project ideas to be more in line with reality.
    I dream of the day that L & I can be working together on a project or side by side on our own projects. Together time but me time at the same time. This is the only way I can imagine how this can function. Which means, will probably only hit this stride sometime after age 3 (which, I’ve heard is the magic age when you apparently get your life back).
    Managing my own expectations. That’s a hard one for me.
    @cloud – You make a good point. But what I want to know is how the hell they found time to do stuff in the first place?! I guess the reality is that you don’t see everything. There could be nannies involved or very involved grandparents etc. behind the scenes. I must admit that I’ve been known in the last 18 months to throw a small dinner party just so the house would actually get cleaned.

  72. At this point I don’t remember what my old normal even was. Eh. I do remember being totally blown away by the parent thing. I remember discovering myself and ep again through our date nights, discovering that I did actually care about politics and school choice and so many things, because it mattered to my child’s future. Total rearrangement of those priorities. But perhaps because I never had a strong framework of self (busted by being abused as a child, recreated/restructured by hand over many years), maybe it was easier for me to say ‘okay, tear it down and start again’.I’m 12 years down the road, so the perspective is also different. Life changes utterly about every 10 years for most people (that’s an old rule of thumb), and for me, part of the initial change was realizing that I am not a static being. I am genuinely different and evolving every blessed day. So what feels like ‘the me’ is really just a snapshot of a collection of things I think are stable. Looking back over old journals, I am often shocked at how differently I viewed that ‘me’, what a different picture it was. There’s very little that is really truly core to me. They are:
    Finding pleasure in having an impact/being effective
    Finding pleasure in feeling successful
    Finding pleasure in being at specific moments (but not necessarily all the time)
    Enjoying information and analysis, especially where it requires a synthesis of different information types/sources
    Finding satisfaction through application of the analysis I’ve done
    That’s about it. Successful day with my kids, satisfying. Successful day with ep, satisfying. Successful day at work, satisfying.
    And life starts to really open up and breathe for me when the youngest child is about 3 years old. Saw that with the first (4 years between him and his brother), saw it again (eventually) after the girls hit 3 1/4. That was a long haul (three years between them and their elder brother, so… juuuust about to get some space and BAM, start over!). But here I am, the girls are five (!!) and this is fabulous. My biggest problem is slowing down on the work that I love so much, so that I’m engaging with my family enough.
    It’s like a whole new life starting, brand new and shiny. And maybe because there is SO MUCH distance between my old life and the new one, it is easier for me to forget exactly what was so precious about that old one anyway… just one or two kids, and you can still see it over the bridge from here, which may make it harder to let go of the yearning. But also may make it easier to get back to the shape of it when you do get that breathing room.
    As for what helped? Time. Lots of talking out the concepts with ep and with my friends (who were fortunately as honest as the commenters here). I know one mom who didn’t really get to where she liked being a mom until her kids were teens (didn’t really bond with her kids until then, wished it had happened sooner – one of the kids forgave the time it took and ran with it, the other last time we talked had not forgiven her for not being ‘that kind of mom’, and spent all his energy on dad instead… she was sad, but couldn’t fault him for it, either). Anyway, just saying there’s a WIDE range of normal.
    I really loved that my best friend was able to say ‘you feel overwhelmed with one, and then you have two and get so much more organized, so that with two, you have the same level of chaos as you did with one.’ AHHH! But, at the same time, yes. And she was/is an orderly, house in shape, runs-a-home-daycare mom, yet had the same frazzled FEELING with that as I did with my chaos (which was much messier than hers, but she also said she wished sometimes she could let it go and ease up on herself more). She was always neater/tidier than me, so she never expected me to be a neat-and-tidy mom, and that came through – I was me, as mom, much like I was me, before momhood. That acceptance and sometimes wry/sometimes just painfully honest truth-telling was fabulous for my transition to motherhood.
    And yet I still vaguely recall it SUCKING as a transition, feeling like I’d careened face first into a brick wall at 90 miles an hour, and was still picking up the bits of me that were scattered everywhere, not even sure where all these parts even belonged. So even with good expectations (that is, I expected it to be a head-whack, life-rearranging, self-restructuring UNKNOWN), and with honest and forthright friends, it still was rough…
    I do like the analogy of the wave, myself. I can’t count the number of times that I had to say ‘I just have to roll with it’ but the image was of being tumbled, the way a wave would roll you if you were underneath, and the sense of needing to relax into the movement and let it carry me along so I could get a sense of which way was up again, rather than fighting for ‘up’.

  73. @Elaine – Having #2 was in many ways a healing experience for me. Taking care of a newborn without the steep learning curve helped me regain my confidence. Although I know it’s a different experience for everyone, and my second was a much easier baby. (And that helped a lot!)I tell anyone who will listen that the transition from one child to two was exponentially easier than the transition from no kids to one. Also the dramatically decreased expectations mentioned by a previous commenter make life much easier.
    My second pregnancy was unplanned. My first son was only five months old when I got pregnant again. It was the luckiest “mistake” of my life. I might not have even wanted a second baby at all if I had the chance to think about it. Now I cannot imagine life without him. Hope that helps.

  74. @Drowning- Just within the last couple weeks, I posted here about what a failure I felt like; that my son just yelled at me all day, that my house was a disaster and my life out of my control. But then something changed… I don’t even know what changed it but my 18 mo old son is sleeping well, he’s happy, I’m happy. It’s like a light switch has been turned on. Point is, it DOES get better. (And then it might slide back for a bit, then get better again). It just seems never-ending and bleak and horrible at the time. Take care of yourself and ask for help if you possibly can .

  75. @fiona – yes on the changes in who can do what, but I also found that the women who were now also parents ALSO couldn’t come out to play, because schedules differed, time was too short, etc.@Drowning, I’ll ditto ditto ditto. It will not always be like that. But there are some techniques my mom taught me that may help you deal while you get there. She had seven kids (ouch), mostly about 2 years apart. She said that she dialed it down to ‘one single moment she could look back on and smile each day’ JUST ONE. Even if she had to fabricate it by staying up late playing mousetrap or something, she would do it to get that single moment. And many days she didn’t get that one, either. But she had one a few days back, maybe. She build a strand of those that was enough to carry her through, built a bridge to the point where she could cope. I’ve quoted her on this many times, but I’ll do it again for you – Throughout her life, she was asked over and over, two questions: Are you sorry you had so many kids, and if you could do it over by choice, would you? When we were little, she said she wasn’t sorry, but she would probably not do it again if she could control it (hyperfertile, she had an IUD in with me, she tried everything available… sigh). When we were mainly teens/preteens, she said HECK Yes, I’m SO SORRY I DID THIS, and no way in hell would I do it again. And then as the last of us crossed into adulthood, she said the answer changed again – to “No, I am not sorry I did this, and I would do every blessed miserable moment, right down to holding my eldest child as he died in my arms on the way to the hospital, again.” It is more than worth it, and the payoff is not in the childhood years, it is in the adult-to-adult relationship later. Even for those relationships that are challenging or tricky or distant. My mom has now 8 kids (one adopted in as a teen, effectively, and counting my eldest brother), and of those, probably half are good solid relationships, and only two are not fraught with tension and issues regularly. But it is still worth it.
    @Raia, my second was an easy, gentle baby who slept 5 hours at 5 weeks, 6 at six week, 7 at 7 weeks… ahhh. And HELL ON EARTH between 2 and 3 1/2. Turned out to have a dietary issue that interfered with his function (from 14 months on), could not tolerate much fructose (Fructose Malabsorption), the ‘toddler diarrhea’ wasn’t just toddler diarrhea, it was massive fermentation causing him to be unable to absorb tryptophan which meant he couldn’t make enough serotonin to keep his brain functioning normally. Diet change = different child. That might not be your situation, but since 1 in 3 toddlers have Fructose Malabsorption, consider the possibility at least. (About 1 in 6 adults have it, only half have digestive symptoms at all, and those who do have GI symptoms can have either diarrhea or constipation, and it may be quite mild.) Anyway, consider that. I missed it for YEARS (it wasn’t until it was so bad that he stopped growing that I finally realized this wasn’t normal, but that something was actually wrong).
    More later as I keep reading comments…

  76. @Elaine- My second baby is 2 months old now. I posted earlier in this thread that I found 1->2 much easier than 0->1. I won’t repeat, but maybe it would help if I was a bit more specific. Here is what I find easier:- I’m more willing to go out w/the baby. This is partly because #2 is an easier baby, but partly because I have more confidence now. I’m less likely to feel judged and less likely to care if I am being judged.
    – I am already comfortable in my identity as mom + a bunch of other things as opposed to mom instead of everything else, which I struggled with the first time around.
    – Breastfeeding has gotten off to an easier start and I know that the intense “tethered to my baby” phase is just that- a phase.
    – In fact, I know that everything is just a phase. That is my #1 learning from the first 2.5 years of motherhood.
    And here’s what is harder:
    – Figuring out how to recharge my mommy energy. With two to get into bed, etc., it just isn’t possible to get time to myself until about 10 p.m., by which time I need to go to bed. I know that this will get better when I go back to work.
    – Finding time to connect with Hubby. For the same reasons. We’re trying to find ways to handle the administrivia via email or something, so that when we do get time to talk it isn’t just “we need diapers. Did you pay the bills?”

  77. @hedra: as always you rock my world with your comments and perspective. Thanks for sharing your mom’s quote. It really helps put things in the context.

  78. Ditto all the above BUT here’s my question…what if you didn’t really love the life before, but you’re stuck in a kind of “no-man’s land”. You’re knee deep in the baby/toddler years with very little time/space/mental capacity to evolve and test other paths. I feel like I am stuck in the middle of a vat of gello. I know I am going to have a different kind of life when the youngest hits 3 or so but what is it? Right now I am so UNmotivated to find out….do you all suddenly wake up one day with renewed energy and zest and go on to figure out not only how to get your life back but what that life looks like…..does it just happen. I guess I am afraid of always being in the gello and wasting away in the goo……
    does this make any sense??!
    To those wondering about transition from 1 to 2. The first 2-3 months are very hard on everyone esp. the eldest child but then soon routines start to emerge and acceptance starts to happen. It goes in phases but at about 18 months with the youngest and we’re a family unit again. The shock wears off. It IS hard, but impossible to quantify due to individual factors of age gap, help from others, personality of children etc. My 2nd is very easy so that has helped tremendously. I do have a large age gap on purpose and am very thankful for it. I suggest if you’re having a hard time with a toddler do your best to wait till they are old enough for preschool/prek before having #2. I could not have coped with 2 in diapers…..but that’s just me, esp. as #1 was high needs, colicky, non-sleeper.

  79. @Elaine – I, too, found 1 to 2 MUCH easier than none to one. You’re already a mom. My analogy is to driving – with the first you gotta learn the rules of the road, remember to look in your rear-view and learn how to maneuver the actual vehicle. With #2, you just gotta learn how to maneuver a different kind of vehicle – my #1 is a sports car, a FAST! one, where #2 is a calm, quiet baby…maybe a sedan? But now merging onto a highway is no longer the panic-inducing threat it used to be. And honestly, even if baby #2 was half as difficult as #1 had been as an infant (so difficult!) I would have done it again so that #1 would have a sibling. My sibs are two of the most important people in the world to me and I didn’t want to deny my son that gift.@Hedra – can you recommend a good starting point for FM research? I’m finally taking E to a GI specialist but couldn’t get in for over a month. I want to go in knowing as much as I can and reading your words triggered a “what if it’s…?” moment in me, so I’ll take anything you’ve got.

  80. Beck is 2 years, 4 months now. I can report that the first six months were that struggle and that I now look back and wonder what the eff my problem was. I was FLIPPING OUT over how hard it was. After years of infertility. I felt so disappointed in myself for my reaction. And then… I remember telling a newly pregnant friend that it was all really great once you surrendered to completely losing your life and that she looked horrified. And then… it just got better. And keeps getting better. But seriously – I wish I could have convinced myself to embrace those early days when all I did all day was watch Sex and the City reruns and nurse and nurse and nurse. Sleep deprivation makes everything seem impossible, though, so I know there would be no getting through to my earlier tired self. PS – I would still probably be losing my mind if I had not gone back to work when he was 1.

  81. I just want to apologize first off b/c I so rarely post and never anything much helpful or encouraging. Right now I’m so mired down that I hate to say I don’t feel like I have much to give. I feel ashamed even posting now, but I’m desperate and have no one to tell and nowhere to turn.I am a mean mom. I don’t hit, but I can be loud and hurtful and intimidating. My DS is 2 1/2 and DD is 5 mo. Every day I feel sick and terrible, and I yell most days. DS has picked up my angriness and tantrums can be ridiculous with his out and out purple-faced screaming. What can I say? Telling him not to do this is the same as spanking then telling your kids not to hit. (I do tell him not to, and I apologize when I yell, but even so, how empty is an apology if you just keep doing it?)
    I don’t know if I hate my husband b/c things are bad or if things are bad b/c that relationship sets the tenor for our home. The usual complaints–won’t listen, Debbie Downer, boring in bed, not mean but not kind (emotionally checked out), passive aggressive etc. So I feel like a jerk for this, too.
    My useless ‘rents just bailed again, too–heading out of the country, traveling around getting ready w/o any schedule and insulted that I told them they just can’t come and go all odd times from my home. I just can’t take it. They’ve never been there for me, and I’m really feeling mental.
    Daily I feel desperate and like a failure. I want to be home with these kids, but I feel so not good at it. Of course, the rest of the time I’m a great get-on-the-floor-and-play, doing arts and crafts, singing and dancing, no-TV, go outside in the mud and rain, homemade food, whole-wheat, organic only, gardening, cloth-diapering, wood-toying kind of mom. But I cannot imagine it makes up for the yelling and my general sadness, and the hateful words and fights with my hubby in front of them. I think I do all those other things in a pathetic attempt to make up for what is really a hell-hole.
    Anyway, sorry again for being a downer, just hoping someone ‘listens’ so I can feel less miserable and hopeless and alone. Oh yes, also–can’t seem to make friends, cuz how do you do that when you feel like this? And due to a very torn up childhood, not so good at making friends so I didn’t manage when preg or newborn (always feel shy, don’t know what to say, have trouble in the emotional investment, don’t know how to take casual friendship any further, etc).
    OK, done with the pity party. Just keep on keeping on, right? The tide will turn, I assume.
    Thanks to everyone who listened.

  82. @ sigh: “I want to be home with these kids, but I feel so not good at it. Of course, the rest of the time I’m a great get-on-the-floor-and-play, doing arts and crafts, singing and dancing, no-TV, go outside in the mud and rain, homemade food, whole-wheat, organic only, gardening, cloth-diapering, wood-toying kind of mom. But I cannot imagine it makes up for the yelling and my general sadness, and the hateful words and fights with my hubby in front of them.”MOXIE CAN WE DO A POST ON THIS COMMENT? I feel like I strive and succeed when it comes to all organic, quality, food, travel, beautiful clothes and home, but I don’t know how to have fun and love every day with my son. Sometimes it is just so BORING and I do rage and yell at him — like I learned abuse from my mother and now I have someone upon whom to release the rage. I want to be better and be the best mom ever, because he is an awesome son and child, can we talk about the dark days?

  83. There is so much I could say, I will only say this. To those of you who are feeling desperate, get help. Get help. Get help. It can get better if you get help.

  84. Raising and waves hand! Did anyone experience this? Yes! Me! It was complicated by the fact that I got laid off unexpectedly and lost my job when I was 8 months pregnant. I started mourning the loss of my old life before the baby was even in my arms, since I knew I couldn’t even try to interview for new jobs that far along like the other designers who were laid off with me. I sailed through the lay-off smoothly, thanks a lot to a firm trust in God to take care of us and shape our path and being gifted with sense of perseverance and determination. But when the baby came I was fully unprepared for how demanding a newborn would be, and how much postpartum recovery (without a complicated delivery even, it is still a recovery!) and sleep deprivation would take a toll. Who really is, right? It was really, really hard for the first few months. It was like living in a fog most of the time, and I barely left the house and rarely got out of pajamas. For awhile I did really feel like I was suffocating or struggling underwater. I did worry the career I spent 5 years in college for was now over in just 5 years. I even wondered if I would ever have time to do things I loved like running or training for any other marathons. At that point, I still was also dealing with all the new mom things (like learning about sleep regressions and developmental leaps… aka, why is it every time I thought I figured something out it all changes!). I really missed the stability my old life had, and felt I was at the mercy of everything for awhile.I now can speak as someone on the other side of the wave, who finally took a deep breath in the sunshine again, with the ground beneath my feet a year later. Slowly, so so slowly I found the confidence to pursue what I really wanted to do and have been pursuing my dream of being a freelance graphic designer who would be able to work a lot from home. My first client only kept me busy a short time, but after several months of waiting and applying everywhere I just got a verbal offer yesterday from a place that should offer steady work, let me work at home most of the time, and overall is exactly what I was waiting for. I’m so excited about it, I’m actually nervous that I’m going to wake up and find I was just dreaming. In retrospect, I was glad I didn’t have to rush back into work so quickly, like I had planned to go back part-time (just for some stability) when he was around 3 months old. I really wasn’t ready even then! Despite being very financially tight the last year, I wouldn’t have traded being at home with our little Boober his entire first year of life for anything now (certainly not my old job). My DH has also had the chance to be home a lot with us, as he was finishing up his degree. Though our situation sounds ideal when I think about it (both parents home most of the time for their child’s first year of life, feeling poor but getting by), quite honestly I doubt we would have chosen this route if we had been giving the choice in advance because we would have been too afraid.
    For me personally, I also learned ways to achieve things again. I began finding satisfaction from tackling things around the house, much like I used to have regular satisfaction from completing projects when I was working full time. I got back into my hobby of cooking again and found a running buddy to go out with occasionally. Nothing is as good as the feeling from the supermom days where I go to bed feeling like I met his needs, had a little time for myself, and got through my to-do list. Motherhood is definitely more rewarding than college or career ever was. It even felt much easier to decorate for Christmas this year.
    The time can vary from person to person, before you are loving your new life and self. It took me close to a year to feel like I was back on my feet and finally had control over my life. But there is no right or wrong way or time line. I hope every new mom still feeling underwater will one day hit the point she can look back in retrospect at all she went through, and celebrate the good thing and find strength and encouragement in the way the challenges further built her character.

  85. By the way, it took me an hour to read all the comments but it was worth it! Wow! I will definitely point other new moms I know toward this.And, I forgot to post this above but after a year one of the biggest shifts that occurred and helped me immensely was finally accepting reasonable expectations are with my son, instead of what is good for other people’s kids or what I read in some book. It is actually freeing to discover what you can control and what you cannot.

  86. @sigh- I think you can stop feeling like your anger/yelling is responsible for your son’s tantrums. I think all 2.5 year olds tantrum- even the ones with saintly mothers who never yell (if there are any of those around). Seriously, we’re pretty gentle parents, not too much yelling (but we’re human, so there’s some), and oh my god can my 2.5 year old daughter throw a doozy of a tantrum.I’m not saying that you shouldn’t want to get your anger under control and yell less- I think we all strive for that. But I don’t think you should blame yourself for your son’s tantrums.
    Do you think you’d have more energy to be the sort of mom you want to be if you allowed yourself some more slack on the organic food/wood toys/gardening/no TV stuff? You know, just let your son watch a little TV to give yourself a 30 minute breather now and then. I think there is a real tendency in our culture to judge mothers, and it seems like now we’re judging on how organic and local our food is and whether our kids spend all their time playing with educational toys lovingly handcrafted in some fair trade center in a developing country or play with mass-produced plastic toys and watch TV. It is insane, and no mortal mother can live up to these expectations.
    I guess what I’m saying is- figure out what’s really important to you as a mother and fudge a little on all the rest.
    And yeah, the day to day care of young children can be boring and utterly draining, and it is easy to feel like you’re no good at it, because you don’t get to see results immediately, or even get a yearly performance review. And every time your child acts up, it feels like you failed. But you haven’t- a lot of the acting up is developmentally normal stuff, and even necessary. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said to my husband “I suck at this mothering stuff.” I’m lucky- he always at least tries to talk me around, and point out the evidence that we’re actually doing OK by our kids.
    So hang in there. It sounds like you are doing a very hard job without any support. I hope things get better for you soon.

  87. @hedra – never mind. I remember reading about it on your blog so I went back and checked to see if you had any links. You do. So that’s where I’ll start. Thanks!

  88. I also want to add that a big part of the problem is that society as a whole does not truly value the work mothers do. This leads us to feel as if we’ve “accomplished nothing” at the end of the day, when in fact, we have directly facilitated the development of another human being- fed, cleaned, nurtured, educated. What we do on a daily basis is the foundation for another human being’s whole life. It is that important. At the same time, the tasks are repetitive, so if every single task is not always accomplished to your own level of perfection, it is not as important as the fact that the sum total of your work does meet your high standards. I hope this makes sense. If I weren’t directly facilitating the development of another human being right now (i.e., finding goldbug), I may have time to be more articulate. Be easy on yourselves. Value your work. You are doing a great job overall, even if you sucked at dinner yesterday.

  89. @ sigh – When you feel so empty inside, it is really hard to meet the needs of anyone else but you have keep moving forward for your children so who gets the short end? Your husband. I’ve got no advice there but just wanted to point out that it isn’t necessarily that you are a “bad” person or partner, just that you are wiped out at the moment. My relationship with my partner is just now turning the corner back into something civil and possibly loving. And we don’t have a new baby.On toddlers and tantrums – I tend towards rage. My mother is an unstable alcoholic. She was not the parenting best model. So….I read lots of books, blogs and signed up for proactive parenting seminars. I’m not perfect – I yell when I get angry – but I’ve gotten a lot better at not getting angry at my two year old. And he is a handful. He is full of energy and opinions and he’s physical. He will yell NO at the top of his lungs and run over to pinch me when he’s mad. He throws things and has the sort of tantrums where he falls down and screams and flails about. How I respond has such a big impact but there’s not much I can do to prevent it – so I don’t think your behavior is causing the tantrums at all, just maybe not helping with learning how to manage the feelings. When he yells no, I either give him a look if he’s just yelling at me from across the room or I calmly (this takes so much effort!!!) tell him to talk to me in a nice voice and use his words or say back to him what I think he is unhappy about. He really responds to that. But it is always rinse and repeat. Always.
    The tantrums and boundary pushing is constant and I fully expect it to continue until we move on to the next phase. More so than anything else I do as a parent, I’m most proud of the effort I have put into how I am learning to handle communicating with him. I work hard to respond, not react. I wait that half a beat it takes to not yell back or hit back. It doesn’t come naturally but it is so worth it. I’ve said before he watches tv, he plays with CPC and eats things like Spiderman fruit gummies. About TV, I realized that the tv watching had gotten a little out of control so it’s been off the past two days and no, he wasn’t happy at first but , he’s two, he’s unhappy with a lot of my decisions.
    Also, he still takes a bottle every morning and night and I’m pretty sure he’s going to be three before potty training gets serious. Just pointing out the decisions I’ve made to make my life easier in some ways and putting the effort into the areas I think matter most. I have a very limited supply of energy and patience these days. And yes there are days and nights where I feel bad that I don’t do more, do it better, but I’m doing what I can and I’m choosing to cut myself some slack. FWIW – I think apologizing when you make a mistake is a huge gift to give your children. I don’t know that my mom ever apologized. She always acted like the rage had never happened.
    On your worthless parents – let them go and fend for themselves in the world. Set up your boundaries and stick to them. I fully believe that parents have a greater responsibility to children than grown children ever do to their parents. This whole I raised you so I demand respect even when I fail to give it – nope doesn’t work for me.
    Since I’m an introvert, I also suck at making new friends. And none of my good friends have kids. It’s hard so I totally sympathize with you on that issue. And again, it doesn’t make you a bad person. I happen to work outside the home, so I get interaction and conversation that way. I probably would have been writing your exact post if I were at home with two kids all day, everyday. It’s just not in my DNA to be able accomplish that gracefully.
    I think this is a lot of rambling and unloading more than advice for you and I apologize. I do hear you and can relate and hope today finds you in better spirits.

  90. @ MrsHaley: I feel so much like you. My life before my baby was good, but it had been getting boring as I moved closer to 30. I had done a lot of fun things in my 20s, but I never have been much of a career person. Just don’t have a lot of ambition in that department, so fortunately, I don’t feel like my baby is holding me back.I still work because we need the income, but life with my baby is so much more fun and interesting. I’m sorry so many mothers struggle with the changes having children brings.

  91. @Sigh – If you are not parenting the way you want to parent, you can work on it. Therapy was super helpful for me when I was suffering from PPD. My therapist gave me some really great tools to help me get through rough spots and to parent in ways that I wanted. She also told me that it’s okay to be a mom who yells. Some mom’s yell. Kids grow up fine even with a mom who yells.Now, I don’t like yelling and am generally able to not yell. And perhaps hurtful yelling might be different than just being a mom who yells. But those are things you (and I and everyone) can work on.
    If a therapist is not in the cards for you, there are other ways to work to change how you parent. There are some really great books out there that I and others have recommended. Books like How to Talk So Kids Will Listen…, and Playful Parenting, and Between Parent and Child, and Parent Effectiveness Training…, and many others along those lines that can help you learn different techniques. The key would be to read those books and PRACTICE, because when you are trying to learn techniques that don’t come naturally to you, it requires a lot of practice. And acknowledging when you’ve gone back to an old pattern, forgiving yourself, and trying again. And again. And again.
    I also recommend Sharon (Mommy Mentor)’s online seminars found at http://www.proactiveparenting.net/. She has a whole seminar just on yelling. I personally have really benefitted from her seminar “How to Respond NOT React to Toddler and Preschool Behavior” and highly recommend it.
    Parenting young kids is so tough! We lose ourselves and often can’t find the person we want to be, including the parent we want to be. I think it can be exponentially harder when people have not had a good role model in their own parents (this is what I’ve observed of others, though my parents were fortunately very good, though not perfect).
    You said “Just keep on keeping on, right? The tide will turn, I assume.” And yes, I do believe that’s true. However, I am always striving to be a better mom, wife, worker, person. I forgive myself when I don’t live up to what I want to be, but I also work really hard to improve in the areas I think are most important. It’s not easy, especially when you are in the thick of things and/or depressed (I suffer from seasonal depression). But when I think about how I want to be, research techniques that would help me be that way, and practice being that way, I feel better about myself. And feeling better about myself helps me forgive myself and my husband for any real or imagined transgressions, which improves our relationship and our relationship with our kids.
    I think I’m rambling now. Anyway, I hear ya. It’s hard. And you will get through the tough times. But you can work on how you want to parent, and that might at least make you feel a bit better. At least, it helps me. 🙂

  92. Hedra, I wish I could blame my nonlove of the toddler age on something he eats, but I honestly think he’s perfectly normal, at least as compared to his peers. It’s just that I can happily hold a baby for hours and hours with no problems, but I cannot happily play toddler games, figure out and then cater to toddler crazy whims, and read toddler books over and over again as happily. The problem is with me, not with him. 🙁 I can do it all for small stretches but then, yes, I am bored. He’s just starting to play by himself and that is so helpful because at least then I can pop in and out and feel like I am attending to both our needs.@sigh, your expectations for yourself are so, so high. Even despite the above, I think I’m a good mom, and I am not constantly the “great get-on-the-floor-and-play, doing arts and crafts, singing and dancing, no-TV, go outside in the mud and rain, homemade food, whole-wheat, organic only, gardening, cloth-diapering, wood-toying kind of mom” — just reading that description makes me tired. Please try to ease up on yourself.
    It’s hard for everyone to make friends. Maybe instead of trying to ‘make a friend’ you ask one person you like for coffee one day. Take it slowly. I so hope you feel better soon.

  93. Hi – just posting to reply to @Sigh. Wow. I am so sorry. You really sound so stressed and unhappy and alone. I can kind of relate… I have twin boys (they are now close to 5) and I will admit that the first year was really rough. I’m not so much an infant person and I also tend to having an anxious personality (that doesn’t go so well with crying twin babies). Anyway, when the boys reached 1 1/2 yrs or so, things really improved, in terms of the kids and us enjoying them and me being/feeling more involved.However, once we got out of the fog of baby-dom, it was much more clear that my husband and I had grown apart. I was just misserable for the next 2 or so years. I was so tired and so quick to yell, more so at my husband but the more it became normal to yell at him the easier it was to yell at the boys too. We FINALLY started seeing a marriage therapist about 5 weeks ago. Best thing we’ve ever done for ourselves and each other. I already see an improvement in how we are speaking to each other and the kids and also the general tone of our household. Do we still have a lot of work to do? Most definitely, yes. But at least we feel like we are on the same team.
    Oh, and in terms of the friend thing… find a weekly structured activity to do with your child(ren). My husband and I did that with our boys. We’ve been going to music class every week since the boys were a little over one week. We’ve (slowly) made friends with the other parents in the class and eventually that transcended to meeting up for coffee before or after class, going to the park together, etc. I don’t make friends so easily myself but this low pressure way was nice and resulted in a great set of new friends (for the boys and for me/my husband).
    Hang in there. Being a mom can be so hard.

  94. @ Lisa–I was 100% there with you. Fake it until you make it. Glad to hear there’s another one out there. I felt like something was wrong with me, but babies are people and I don’t warm up to people that quickly. Makes sense that it would take me a while but boy did I feel like a freak for the first 6-12 months.

  95. I think the wave analogy is perfect and I’ve certainly been able to go with the flow much more with my second than with my first.Sigh: Like Raia says, I think you have hugely high expectations. Television, for me, is a useful tool to entertain the 2 year old at 5pm to allow me to breastfeed the 8 month old and it is also a very welcome break. That break enables me to recharge my batteries a little and (mostly) not yell during the following meal/bath/bed time, when I am at my tiredest. I look on tv as the lesser evil! Embracing some tv or lowering your expectations in other areas may help you to be more the mum you want to be.
    I also found socialising with children difficult. Can I recommend my 3 Question Trick? Before a social event, think up 3 questions that you could ask anyone you get chatting to. For instance, at a playgroup you could ask ‘which is your child?’, ‘how old is he/she?’ and ‘Is he/she your first child’. You go to the event and start chatting, there is no need to feel socially awkward as you know what you’re going to say. After 2 or 3 questions, the conversation will either develop and you can get really talking or you can move on to talk to another person having chatted with person 1 without feeling socially inadequate.
    This trick really works and I now have a fantastic group of 10 mum friends who I see regularly and it helps so much to be able to offload in person as well as online. Keep dragging the kids along to the activities and groups and you will meet people that you click with – there are quite a few of us shy, quiet types around!I hope this makes sense, I’m knackered from the night wakings and can’t seem to proof read any more!

  96. First year and a half — it broke me. I’m still broken, but okay. Girl is now 2 and a half. Like this so much better than baby time, though I loved her fiercely all along. Feel like maybe I would have been okay if the rest of my life could have disappeared for 18 months — no husband who needed me, no job to take me away from this all-consuming mother task. Thankfully, husband didn’t disappear, though he almost did. We’re okay now — very okay.

  97. Yes. I feel like this everyday. I love the ocean, I LOVE my kids, but sometimes I’m exhausted and there’s nowhere to go, no break. I know it will end. I wish there was a way to spread all of this intensity out over the course of our lives instead of having it all at once.

  98. @kyma – “How much of this struggle do you discuss with people who are thinking of having kids or are pregnant?” Verry little. I have trouble collecting my thoughts sometimes IRL. Sometimes I tend to go overboard on the specifics that may or may not apply to the other mom. I try to do active listening and be non-judgmental. The book “Parental Effectiveness Training” helped me with that.@Sigh – I hear you, and want to say that you also are most definitely not alone. I saw parts of myself in so many of the things you wrote. I’m really glad you commented. Maybe you just wanted to vent, but maybe you’re open to some friendly assvice, too? I’ve really benefitted from talk therapy. What if you printed out your comment, and took it with you on an interview with a potential therapist and just said “I think I need help” & see where it goes.

  99. @hush – I tried to explain the shock of parenthood to my expecting in-laws a couple of months ago. I think they thought I was insane. Or a bad mom. Or they just didn’t believe me. It might be the thing of thing you only get once you’re there.@Mrs Haley – thank you for posting about *not* having the kinds of feelings we’re talking about. I know not everyone feels the shock/ mourning strongly, or even at all. We all experience parenthood differently.

  100. I had an awful time for the first year or so after my son was born. My husband worked all the time; his boss literally went after him for taking time off after bubby entered the world. We’d had to declare a medical bankruptcy a couple of months before the birth, as my husband had nearly died in a car accident right after he started a new job (and consequently had no health insurance, as we couldn’t afford COBRA for him). I am severely physically disabled, so my pregnancy was very high-risk and I was terrified my medications would affect my baby. My last employer fired me for being disabled (my boss actually put it in a letter! I still have it!) three months before I got pregnant. I felt completely unmoored during my pregnancy.But as nerve-racking and weird as my pregnancy was, once my son was born…well, most of my memories are still blurred. It was just horrible. I just felt lost. I didn’t want to be a mom. I was terrified all the time I was doing something wrong. It didn’t help that my son couldn’t properly absorb breast milk (or I produced too little of the right kind, depending on which doctor you believe) and lost 25% of his birth weight in his first two weeks. We had to switch him to soy formula, which he thrived on, finishing the process of making me feel like the world’s least competent mother. I never saw my husband, my son cried all the time, I didn’t know much about babies, and I was desperate to succeed in this new role, which was all I had left.
    I know all that sounds bleak, and I can’t lie – it was. However, it did get better once he got to about a year. By that point, he was a person to me, with a definite personality that I knew and understood. My son is now a happy, bright, but incredibly strong-willed four-year-old. I still struggle with my frustration at having lost much contact with the outside world, but I think the infant months are the worst for that sensation. It also helps that I’m back in school, training for a different field in which my disability is much more likely to be accepted and accommodated.
    There is one memory that truly encapsulates that bizarre turned-table feeling I associate with the change from expectant mother to mother-in-fact. I was getting out of a car a week after my son was born (by C-section). I still had trouble getting up and I don’t walk normally even now. I unconsciously expected my husband to come help me out of the car; instead, he ran around to get the baby and took him inside without so much as a glance at me. That was when it all hit me: I’m not the center of attention any more. In fact, I’m the caretaker, not the protected or cossetted being. It was a minor moment, but that was when everything landed in my mind.
    Sorry, I know this post in long and rambling, but I have held some of it in for four years now.

  101. @Tonina – That is a fascinating post; I feel it deserves a novel. Are you planning a second child?I also found the first year of motherhood SO difficult; I can’t even describe. I loved my son fiercely but hated being a mother. My life before was so much more rewarding. Now that he is three, I love mothering and he brings me tremendous joy. I just. can. not. decide whether it is worth suffering through another couple years to have another child. I wish someone could offer me a pearl of wisdom on that question!

  102. I struggled with PPD and intrusive thoughts for the first 5 or so months after my first was born. I felt so alone and ashamed of what was going on inside my head, of not loving being a mother, but slowly I was able to open up to my husband ( and later my mum) and take some steps towards dealing with my problems. By the time my son was 5 months old, I was able to manage these bizaar thoughts, thanks to some cognitive therapy, which would come in handy later on with number 2.That’s when I started loving the mother gig. My son was an easy baby. He never needed to be rocked or held too long, he nursed fine. I can only count my lucky stars that during my bout of depression/IT I was able to get a full nights sleep everynight. Also it helped that I was an ‘older’ mother ( 38 when my first was born). I had lived my life to the fullest, had gotten where I wanted to get with my career. Having a child was the next logical step.
    It really helped having had an easy baby the first time in deciding whether we were going to try for no. 2. My daughter is no way near as easy as her brother, particularly when it comes to sleep (she still wakes up at least 4/5 times a night just to come and say hello), but I can’t imagine for a moment not having the two of them. I’m just eternally grateful that they came in this order.

  103. @suzi, and other who have posted about whether or not to have a second.I can only speak from my experience (and I’m currently pregnant with my second, FWIW), but I spent two plus years after my daughter’s birth thinking that I wouldn’t be able to have a second child due to some health issues (mine) that they discovered after her birth.
    I struggled so much after she was born with the loss of my career and identity and felt so many of the emotions others have expressed here. Early on, I wasn’t sure that I’d ever want to have another. Was it worth it? Could I do it again?
    But having the option of more children taken away when she was about six months old made me really focus on what I wanted. I realized that I really did want another baby, that our family wasn’t complete yet, and those moments that make me smile every day (hopefully) make it more than worth it. Several doctors and a handful of tests later, and here we go again. I’m scared, but I know this is what I really want.
    Sorry for the rambling post. But maybe if you think about how you would feel if someone told you you *couldn’t* have another baby, you might arrive at your answer. Or be a little closer to one. Just my $.02.

  104. @Suzi: Sorry, I know that post pretty much was a novel!I have thought about having a second child, as I never really thought having a single child would be fair. I grew up with a sister, and I can’t imagine looking back on my childhood years without having someone who shares those memories. However, given my physical disability, my desperate desire to re-establish myself in the outside business world again, and our financial situation, it looks pretty unlikely. I’m in my early 30s and I’m afraid of having a baby when I’m much beyond my mid-30s, so I don’t have much longer. If I can just get through school and establish myself quickly in my new field, perhaps I’ll be able to have another baby.
    I’ll be honest, though, and admit that I’m ambivalent about going through the pregnancy and infancy time again. My first time around was so difficult and frightening. @LWH, I have thought through your mental exercise so many times and I still don’t have a consistent answer. I want a second child badly, but my son’s infancy was a nightmare and I’m still nervous around babies! I love my son dearly, but I’m much better with the toddler and beyond stages than I am with pregnancy and infancy.
    I’m afraid of what another round could do to me physically. I’m terrified that I will have fought my way through school and back into the professional world only to see it slip away again. I never again want to feel the way I did during my son’s infancy – powerless, terrified, overwhelmed, and lost. My mind constantly told me I was an utter fraud as a mother. I weigh all that against the strong desire to have another child, a sibling for my son, maybe a child whose infancy I could enjoy – and I just don’t know what to do.

  105. @Tonina and to all those struggling with whether to have more children.I was expressing to a woman I know, mother of 4 grown children and now a grandmother, how I was sad not to have more children. She said this: “well, you can have children in your life in other ways. Surround yourself with children, invite children into your home. They don’t have to be your children.” She said this very matter-of-fact but it has turned out to have profoundly affected my perspective. I think of her words often. I pass this in incase it helps someone else.

  106. @sarah: nice to know someone else feels these “dark days”. I should try to think of myself the way I think about you when I see your post: Just the fact that you’re thinking about it means you’re doing so much better than you realize.@Cloud: I have been forced to cut back on some of my ‘granola-save-the-earth-and-eat-right” ways since the arrival of DD, but it’s been really hard to let go of judging myself by the standards you speak of, and trying to think about the big picture of parenting, as you talk about. Better CPC than therapy. . . (rhyme not intentional). Thanks to you and @mothergoose for reminding me just how hard the whole job is when you think about it, and how hard it is to wrap your head around the whole thing or know how you’re doing. Up to this point, I keep thinking–you can tell by whether your child is happy and well-adjusted, but with toddlerhood, who can tell.
    @mom2boys: OMG, I don’t even know what to say—you have helped me so much just by showing me it isn’t just me and that I have somehow already having wrecked my child. I haven’t had much luck with the techniques you mention, but you’ve given me a boost not to give up anyway. And not to worry about when the heck am I going to find a time/way to potty train etc?!?!?
    @caramama: YES YES YES to those books. I’ve read them—and a bunch of related books, everything on hedra’s parenting bookshelf from her blog. Therapy isn’t in the cards now, but I wish I had it for a good outside perspective. I am totally in line with “However, I am always striving to be a better mom, wife, worker, person”, and I’m so in the trenches it’s easy to think that I’m getting nowhere especially only compared to an ideal in a book–and hence the downward spiral. It is such hard work. I have trouble with the forgiveness part.
    @Raia and also @Sky: great suggestions, kind words. Thanks.
    @mo: We want to do therapy, and know we have to find time—just hard to find a sitter. None at the moment. We’re trying to get some activities going as you suggest, but DS is slow to warm to new situations, so it takes many visits before the clinging stops enough where we can converse. . .and DH works longish hours.
    @hush—same goes for personal therapy. I need to find time, a sitter and $$. I’ve done therapy before, and I’m totally ready, but how?! Must find a way. . .
    @Suzi, about having a second: Not long ago there was a discussion on here about how the adjustment to having kids is mind-blowing. Someone suggested (was it Moxie herself, perhaps?) that it only really hits you hard once, for some it’s having a kid at all, for some it’s having the 2nd. As you can see—for me the 1st was a breeze and a delight (despite his strong personality/sleep troubles etc). This 2nd child is my bigger hurdle.
    ALL THAT TO SAY: perhaps you have already done the hardest bit, if the 1st child was the one that would challenge you the most in terms of transition etc, maybe the 2nd will be a lot easier. Just a thought.

  107. @Paola- that’s funny! My two came in the reverse order- the first was a challenging baby (hard to get to sleep, hard to soothe, wanted to be held all the time, hated to be in a sling…) and the second is so much easier. And I have been going around saying how lucky I am they came in this order, because if #1 had been easy and #2 had been hard it would have just blown my mind all over again. Thanks for reminding me that it probably would have been OK either way. (:

  108. @nej, my wiki is a starting point, and so is my yahoo group.. (yeah, sorry, me me me me me… but there’s a lot of mixed info out there, I’m trying to sort it evenly out). My wiki is linked from my blog (lower right), and the group is Fructose Malabsorption Australia in Yahoo groups (Yes, Australia – the best research is coming from there). You can join if you are just wondering – we have a ton of links, files, and resources, easier to get them there.@sigh, it might be worth exploring the diet for the angry-mean-mommy thing, as it was one of the reactions I got from excess fructose myself (wheat, HFCS/agave/honey, onions, apples, pears, and pit fruits, all of which I loved – okay, not the HFCS, but sweets/baked goods). When I started cutting it back along with the kids, and then had a soda, it became obvious that it was dietary – before that, it was so constant that I couldn’t spot the symptoms (they can occur any time in a three day span after consumption, and accumulate over that span, so it gets tricky to spot). AND, I highly highly recommend Mother Styles (personality type and motherhood) – some of us just HATE the sit-down-and-have-fun kind of mothering. Run away screaming. Miss R wanted to play pretend Go Fish while I was sitting with her this evening (she’s sick), and I was DY.ING. I want to crawl out of my skin on that stuff. But get outside and look at bugs, I’m cool. Educate, explore, sure, play pretend and listen to endless stories? Er. Uh. Please, No? Reading that my personality type isn’t That Kind Of Mom helped me stop being upset about the fact that I’m Not That Kind Of Mom. Which made it easier to be patient with myself, which was half the problem! I would try to convince myself that somehow I could be that kind of mom, feel run over and trapped, then SNAP because my own boundaries had been crossed (because I let them be), and then the kids would get confused about where the lines were and walk all over them, and AHHHHHH!
    So. Uh. Anyway, know thyself as a mom – it may not be that you’re mean, it may be that you are trying to be a kind of mom that you are not. There are dozens if not millions of good ways to be a mom, and if you’re trying to be one that doesn’t really match you, trying to force yourself into a dream-shaped-perfect-version somehow, you’ll be constantly irritable about it. Okay, at least I was. I got from Sharon (Mommy Mentor) the clarity of remembering where to draw the line (before I am run over – don’t give in when it will cross my line, or I get angry because I’ve been trod on), which I knew, but sometimes needed reminding of – so her stuff may help a lot, too.
    No help on the marriage stuff – the state of our marriage also sets a lot of tone, but it is largely ‘when I’m not listening to him, I’m not listening to anyone, and when the adults aren’t listening, then the kids don’t listen, and it all goes around in a big circle’. I also remember that whatever feelings I have are likely the same ones they have. We elicit those feelings in each other. So, if I’m feeling angry, probably my kids are, too. If I’m feeling impatient and lost and confused and lonely, likely they are, too. Remembering that helps me bridge the gap between me and them.
    Okay, more to go read, but those are some starting points, anyway…

  109. @nej (again) Whoops, should have read all the posts – yep, you found the stuff on my blog. Feel free to join the Yahoo group, too, even if you just drop off later.@sigh and others wrangling their way through the toddler/preschool years – honestly, I don’t like babies much, and toddlers are starting to get interesting but are a drain, and I really prefer 8-12 year olds, always have (including pre-kids). I go through regular cycles of figuring myself out as a parent, and I regularly stink at it, and my kids are still doing great. A couple days back, Mr B looked around at the usual morning crisis of getting the younger three kids out the door for school (yelling is regularly involved on someone’s part, this time Miss R had refused to get dressed and was screaming about it, I think), and said very sadly, ‘I want a new family.’ Ouch? Now, granted, he has no idea how other families work, but still – there are days we suck bad enough that our kids want to wipe the slate clean… and then there are days where it rolls along (for part of the day anyway), beautifully. Where Miss R is crying, and Mr B walks up, puts his arm around her and kisses her on the forehead, where Miss R (who has a UTI and is miserable) excuses herself from a party because she won’t be able to enjoy it, and when faced with the question of who should stay home with her, doesn’t kick up a fuss over who it really should be – let Daddy go to see his friend’s housewarming, and Mommy stay home (even though she really does prefer Daddy). And then it swing back, and someone yells at someone, or someone grabs someone else’s hair (the boys are the only ones who do this to each other, sigh), or someone messes with someone else’s stuff, and it’s all off again.
    I really did feel like life had opened up when the girls were 3 1/4, when ep and I were sitting at the table after dinner and realized that for fifteen minutes STRAIGHT, nobody had needed either of us for anything. We waited… and then it came. But it started happening regularly, that we’d have a whole 10 or 15 minutes without a constant demand for something – assistance, negotiation support, conflict resolution, help in the bathroom, help with food, help with technology or toys, help with homework, help with clothing, and that doesn’t count help playing games, even.
    At this point, it is still variable – but it is definitely on the upswing. And I still suck as a parent regularly – I may rock as a parent at times, also, but that doesn’t mean I am free from suckage, or that I don’t have spans where I’m more yelly than not, etc. My kids outgrow my parenting skills all the time, and I have to learn something new to catch up. I think I’ve read all the parenting books mentioned here, and I’d start with P.E.T. (parent effectiveness training) or How to Talk… P.E.T. is kind of the in-depth master course that covers all the ground, and How to Talk is targeted to a narrower range, but they fold together nicely.
    Okay, now off to work on the marriage part of life…

  110. Thanks to everyone for your comments and insights. It helps to know I’m not the only one still having a hard time out there and that there are others that struggled and made it through and still sometimes struggle. I just hope I can make it through ok too. I have a very vivid mental image now. It’s the middle of the night and pitch black outside, we are all in the sea treading water, we can hear each other offering encouragement in the distance, but we can’t see each other or physically touch each other to offer support. I really appreciate hearing all of your perspectives. There is no other option but to keep going and hope things get better.

  111. Oh, it was a bit difficult reading all the posts. Our twins are eight and a half months old. I thought we had come through survival mode already. There have been two waves of things getting easier. One at three months. The other at six months. Now they are getting a bit more challenging. They are more mobile, seeking danger, and have their own opinions about what should happen when. And I realize that yes, we still are in a sort of survival mode.I remember that time in the hospital, the first night our kids were in the world. The day and evening were wonderful. Despite the exhaustion just from the excitement – and coming into the hospital at 4am – I stayed up late into the evening, alternately holding the boy and girl as they fell asleep on my chest while my wife dozed in her hospital bed. From our ninth floor room I watch the sun set over the city, the colors lingering before the sky darkened and the streets below lit up.
    While the peaceful evening was bliss and the dream of many years fulfilled, the night had another lesson. The two new members of our family took turns crying and screaming. I had no idea what to do. I would try holding them. Feeding them. Changing them. And they would keep screaming. The nurses taught us to swaddle, but my wrapping was still only mediocre. They kept screaming.
    The night kept going and I was more tired than I could imagine. I just wanted to lie down on the absurd sleeper chair in the room and sleep. They still cried. It was only chance that they would calm down and fall back to sleep again.
    Somewhere between two and three in the morning I realized my life had changed in ways that I had not imagined. And to a greater degree than I could have comprehended before the births. In school sleepless nights were no stranger to me. But then I could always say “screw it” and just turn in. The needs of these little screaming angles, in stark contrast, were something I never experienced before.
    The nature of those needs continues to unfold. We’re only starting to see how the needs change over time. But my life changed completely that night. Coupled with the immense joy was the constant demand for my attention and action. And I new it would endure for years.
    The kids continue to be a joy, and as they grow more aware and engaged with their environment they become more fun. They look similar, but their personalities are very different. The girl more verbal. The boy more kinesthetic. Their baby talk makes us laugh with joy. The day they first started crawling up on me reminded me of the pleasure I had climbing on my own father when young (although older than they are now).
    And just today they were wonderful. We all ate out at one of our favorite pastry houses – something we haven’t done in many months – and they were on their best behavior – curious, talking, laughing. We ate with a friend – an adult friend. It wasn’t like our life before, but we could glimpse the new normal developing.
    We look forward to simply sleeping through the night on a regular basis. We can count on one hand the number of nights we’ve had a full night’s sleep since last March. Colds, teething, ear infections, all have conspired to interrupt our nightly dreams.
    Our trips out are short and dependent on when the sleep and eat. My wife and I compete for shopping duty for a chance to be out among other adults.
    And their needs constantly change. I used to be able to get them ready in time for the sitter to come each morning. Since they are more mobile, squirmy, and cranky I was late for work almost every day last week.
    It doesn’t help that we signed papers on our first house a week after they were born. We seem to have a knack for complicating our lives. The house is great, and well suited to our lives and style. It does need TLC, which is expected in a house built during the civil war. In the summer I would mow the lawn when and if both napped, otherwise they would inevitably have double meltdowns at the same time and I would be called inside.
    I’m sure most of you know this story much better than I do. We still have much to learn and face. Our fatigue level is ridiculous. But it is helpful and therapeutic to write about it. And realize that some things are getting better, even as many aspects become more challenging and our lack of sleep drives us to tears. And it’s good to refresh before our next one comes in April (which was not supposed to be possible).

  112. I totally threw myself into mothering, so much so that I lost myself–although I was completely primed for that after 2.5 desperate yrs of ttc.I don’t regret any choices that I made in terms of being available to my kids (staying at home, long term nursing, working only very PT and freelance due to various economic factors), but it took me years to find the balance of mom me and adult me.
    Now I find myself under a huge amount of pressure (not from my husband, though he’d agree in a second) to have a third child, and I am not so into it. My family has endured some emotional upheaval in the past couple of years and while things are much better now, I don’t know that soon (or ever) is the right time to introduce a new personality into this established unit. Due to the community I live in, this makes me feel defective. Oh well. To thine ownself be true.

  113. @Wm G – so hear you. Even having had two kids before the twins. New different, and then new normal. Well written, there.@anon4now, we have the opposite ‘oddness’ – more like: four kids? In this day and age? I hope you’re DONE, now. (disapproving superior look). The idea of three was bad enough, but having the last ‘one’ be two? I get either attitude or worship, both of which are distancing. I am not ‘like everyone else’ anymore, just because of that decision to have the third, and the chance that (due to my advancing age) it would be twins.
    You are not defective. But I understand the feeling from the attitude of others constantly pressing in.

  114. Wm G- “glimpsing the new normal developing” seems to be what gets us through to the next phase. Whether it’s two weeks, two months, or two years, the slow and steady changes allow pieces of our lives to either return to their old comfortable way or evolve into something new but manageable. And sometimes, as Mrs. Haley and others have said, this new life is better than the old. Yeah, the wave works for me, too.

  115. @ hedra – I love this. ” My kids outgrow my parenting skills all the time, and I have to learn something new to catch up.” — read that line yesterday and it is still ringing in my head. This may just be what gets me through my tougher days parenting, especially if we do end up going for another.Thanks to everyone on input for me and those contemplating another baby. I do remember comments about hitting the proverbial wall once, either with you first or your second. I think we definitely hit it with the first. I guess I am afraid I’ll hit again with #2, only harder because now I’ll be that much busier and have 2 little psyches to mess up.
    That and, like hedra, I’m older, so going for one more might actually get me two.

  116. I’m on day one all by myself with baby #2 here.. I have a 4 year old and a 4 month old, and while I’m so lucky that she sleeps at night I do not get a second away during the day at all, she does not like napping in her crib, and she barely tolerates her exersaucer… so sometimes to get my older one lunch or dinner or something I have to let her cry…I feel so horrible for her to do that, but I know that I have to let the older one eat and she’s not old enough to cook. I know that supposedly it gets easier, but WHEN? definitely feeling like I”m drowning.. and my husband works 12 hour shifts.. so for 4 days basically I’m on my own… he’s really wonderful about helping the other days!

  117. Oh on top of that I think she doesn’t like the new formula we put her on (in Australia it’s S-26)… she was great on Enfamil, but now that we’re back home in Aus, this is what we tried… anyone know if there is something like Enfamil in Aus?Thanks for any help!

  118. Shalini – I think S-26 is pretty thick and gluggy as far as formulas go. Have you tried KariCare? Chemists should have it. I think you can get single packs for a trial if you are worried about spending a ton of $$ looking for a match.Also, practical advice here, can you find a swing for the 4 month old? That saved my life during dinner times and general fussy periods. Most of the ones I found down here are the smaller travel ones but if you can find a bigger one that swings side to side OR back and forth you’d be even better off. My daughter preferred the side to side motion generally.
    xo

  119. @Shalini- I was also going to suggest a swing for your four month old. That is what I put my 2 month old in when we need to eat dinner, and she is usually pretty content in it. Of course, every baby is different, blah blah blah. But if you can find a second hand one, it might be worth a try.You could also try some sort of sling. I’m pretty happy with my Moby.

  120. I was so happy to see this post. I have a 8 month old and have been doing well until recently. I’ve been coping with the lack of sleep and the fact that she is a very high needs baby. She doesn’t cuddle, never sits still – but is a joy all the same. What’s killing me now is that I have NO idea who I am as a person. My mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I had no idea because I never have a chance to think about what I want.The part where I feel like I am drowning the most is managing the work/home life guilt. If I’m with my daughter, I’m feeling guilty about not being good enough at my job. When I’m working, I feel guilty about not being home with my daughter. It’s just non-stop stress and guilt and I feel like it is slowly killing me.

  121. You guys ALL rock! I wish I knew you all so I could get/give hugs regularly. What I dont get is that most moms wont admit this stuff. I have yet to meet a mom who openly has these doubts except you guys and myself. My first daughter, now almost three, has always been difficult. Talk about the blind leading the blind. My partner of 7 years, who swore up and down he wanted kids (and I never did) and couldnt wait to ‘take over’ has proved to take over nothing. nada. Zip. No bathtimes, no diaper changing, no feedings….and just when I decided I might leave soon, I got pregnant TOTALLY UNEXPECTEDLY AND UNWANTEDLY. needless to say, my second daughter is the biggest joy in my life. I love them both so much, but she makes it easy to love her. She is now 10 months old. The night I brought the second one home, my partner literally said to me “I dont want you here, we are finished.’ I stood and cried. But since Anna was so easy, she saved my sanity. She was a great sleeper, not such a great eater, but loving, funny and laughs all the time and is laid back. With my trying and smart and picky first one, I never thought I could make it with two. I have anxiety issues, and I know number 1 inherited quite a bit of them. Needless to say, I never had a babysitter, Daddy never watched the kids, my Mom wants to but is unable to walk so she cant really care for the little one. no one else has helped me. I look like a slob. here is a lady who (I had number 1 at 39) spent a decent amount of money on her hair and skin care and looking nice for work. Now, I am a SAHM who is still chunky, feels like shit and whose partner has literally given up on her sheerly because she (I) doesnt feel like sex and resent the hell out of him for not helping with the kids. he loves them so much, but his own parents were distant and mean. He plays with them for like 3 minutes, then finds excuses to do something else. I have no free time, havent left the house alone in almost 3 years, and am on the verge of tears most days. He doesnt get the ‘burnt out’ thing. He gets to do what he wants. I cant. So, I too feel lost, ugly, along with being constantly reminded of how i need to lose weight…..I wish I had a supportive partner. It would make all the difference in the world. .I wish I knew all you lovely ladies. It might make my life a little easier to know I am not alone. for those of you who do have great partners; cherish them.

  122. @Hedra: Love this: “I also remember that whatever feelings I have are likely the same ones they have. We elicit those feelings in each other. So, if I’m feeling angry, probably my kids are, too. If I’m feeling impatient and lost and confused and lonely, likely they are, too. Remembering that helps me bridge the gap between me and them.”After going through a lovely few weeks with the 2 kids, had a day this weekend that knocked DH and I down. No idea what happened, but the day kept going down and down and down the rabbit hole. One of those days where you can’t wait for it to end so you can begin anew. But the next day was better.
    @Elaine: I had a very difficult time with my first, and struggled with whether to have another. I actually felt anxiety just thinking about the newborn phase again (he was/is/hopefully soon won’t be a crap sleeper, and had to be held constantly). But what settled the question for me was that I wanted him to grow up with a sibling.
    My DH and I come from large families, and, even though there’s no guarantee DS and DD will be friends through life, at least they’ll have that foundation to work from. They can tell eachother the family stories and commiserate on how crazy their parents were.
    My 2nd is a breeze compared to her brother as a baby, although she inherited his crap sleeping (oh, well). And even though the first 6-9 months was still quite difficult, now it’s just lovely most of the time. She just turned 9 months and adores him; he adores her as well. They make eachother laugh. It doesn’t get much better than that.

  123. @ meggiemoo – Having a sibling for my son is indeed the biggest reason I have for having another. In the past 7 years I have taken care of, and lost, both of my parents. I cannot imagine having to have gone through all of that without my 3 siblings. If I could fast forward straight to the part that the baby is sleeping fairly well through the night I’d do it in a heartbeat. Sibling relationships are the longest relationships we get (except perhaps cousins, but my son’s cousins are all much older than him). To deny my son a sibling because I couldn’t suck it up for the first few years seems selfish. Yet I hesitate. We finally just found a rhythm.@jaxnmax – I think as mothers it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are the keystone for our families. When we break the entire family suffers. Finding a way to make ourselves a priority positively impacts the whole family. But sometimes it can seem impossible to find the time/energy to make it happen. I’ve started to see it as an investment. I started with my weight because it was thing that hit my self-esteem the hardest. I felt isolated, ugly, and fat. Sound familiar? At the same time doing drastic dieting would set me up for failure, so I bought the book Volumetrics and have been making changes that don’t seem that hard – ones that I can stick with. And my weight is trending down, slowly, but surely. Doing this little proactive thing has helped my depression and led to other positive changes. It has been a good investment of my time for all of us. Also, going to different mom groups, library storytimes, etc. and faking it until I make it (pretending to be outgoing, friendly, someone another mommy would want to be friends with) is also starting to pay off.
    I guess that is my long way of saying hang in there.

  124. @jaxnmax: You don’t have to take the nasty treatment. If your partner is telling you to get out the day you bring your child home from the hospital, why do you want to stay? If it’s just being afraid of what would happen if you leave, is that really a reason to stick around?If you all haven’t tried counseling as a couple yet, I suggest you try it. If your partner won’t go, then go on your own. If money is an issue (believe me, it is for my household!), there are a fair number of mental health providers who work on a sliding scale. Your local hospitals should be able to help you get started – a lot of them have referral lines and sites. Having someone outside the situation to talk to is a godsend.
    If you already have someone you work with, have you been honest about the entire situation with him/her? I know there were things I held back when I saw a therapist when I was younger. I was ashamed to admit them, even to a person who I’m sure had heard much worse than I had to offer. But I felt like such a failure, so I held a lot of things back for a long time. One of the best steps I ever took was finally talking to someone about those hidden problems – they didn’t look or feel nearly so ugly when they emerged into the daylight.
    There are always options. Sometimes they’re terrifying, but there are always options. Spending every minute in the company of two young children is enough to drive anyone around the bend. It isn’t healthy for you or your kids. For everyone’s sake, you truly need to get out on your own. I went through the same thing – I have a severe physical disability which limits my mobility, so going out is a much more daunting proposal than it used to be. Maybe you could try planning times to leave on your own. I do that myself. Sometimes I don’t go anywhere – I just drive, play my music as loud as I want, and scream my head off. Sometimes I go to my mother’s house for a couple of hours. I do what I feel like doing.
    The whole point is to just give yourself some time away, because your mind will snap like an overstretched rubber band if you don’t get out of the house by yourself. Try it every two weeks – even if you can’t do it any more often, it gives you something to look forward to when the kids are both screaming and the house is a mess and you feel awful about yourself.
    I really feel for you and I hope things improve quickly. Just try to hold on – we do have some control, even when we feel most powerless.

  125. I actually had two different dreams after my son was born in which waves were coming over me and I was struggling to stay afloat…or whales were swimming around me and I was afraid I was going to drown. In each case I survived in my dream and I found a way to stay afloat or reach the shore.My counselor at the time said that was a good sign that — even in my dreams — I was finding a way to cope, survive and stay alive.
    And even when I was terrified of getting into a car accident and hearing myself scream “my baby, my baby” even then my counselor said that I was envisioning survival! That was a good sign.
    Focusing on surviving is a terrifying place to be…but staying focused on survival rather than focusing on not surviving is still a better place to be. Stay focused on surviving.

  126. DD is 22.5mths and most days I still feel like I’m drowning (great analogy – I’ve used this description before to try and describe how I’m feeling). She has never slept through the night so this adds to my feelings of helplessness and inferiority. What’s worse is that we tried for 11 years before I got pg so I should have been over the moon happy and still should be but when I discuss it with DH all I get back is “this is what you always wanted” which is so true but that makes me feel worse. I have one DD that I’m struggling with and I look at others who have 2/3 kids and look like they could manage 4/5 more. We’ve been trying for another since DD was born because of my infertility and my age but nothing has happened and I feel it’s because I’m not coping well with DD. I do have good days (when she goes to bed on time) and on those days I feel like I have accomplished something major LOL. Anyway deep down I do know this feeling will pass and she will get older but I’m terrified I will miss everything because I’m still feeling a loss at my old life. Plus my friends I did have are gone – one was trying for a child so she turned scarce when I got pg and other friends were single and not interested. The isolation is the worst – makes the bad days feel longer and lonelier.

  127. First time commenter, fairly irregular reader thanks to a ton of work and a really challenging 9 month old baby. I have read this post a gazillion times over to make myself feel less bad about missing my “old life.” My old life was awesome….so it’s hard to let it go. I am still struggling to let it go.

  128. what would be nice to see along with the tickets sold is the allotment each school was supposed to sell. For instance I see that Minnesota sold 3,000 tickets for last year’s Insight Bowl, but how many were they required to sell? Did they meat their allotment or how short were they?

  129. I have been scouring the web for weeks looking for other people struggling with life after/with a baby so I don’t feel so alone in not loving the baby stuff. I hope anyone reading this will humor me while I blow off a quick puff of steam myself.I’m not a baby person, and for whatever reason have always been ok admitting that. But then I had my own kid, and realized that I’m REALLY not a baby person (and people don’t like to hear it once you have one). I have never understood the “baby smell” thing (and actually think women who rave about it are a little odd, although I’d never say so to their face and am a “to each their own” kind of person. To me, babies smell faintly of urine, pooh, and sour milk 95% of the time. What about that is so intoxicating, exactly?! And the rest of the time they smell like… nothing. What am I missing that smells so great?! Oh! And the smell of Johnson’s baby lotion? Most women swoon: I want to puke.). So in addition to already not being a baby person, I suffered from post partum depression after having my daughter (good times, as many of you can relate), and even after the worst of that was over, I hated that I had a baby. I didn’t hate my BABY, I just hated having one.
    I was irritated at how much the baby needed ‘entertaining’ (and since they have a 15-second attention span) and irritated at her inability to do anything to entertain herself for said 15 seconds. I felt trapped by and strapped to a chair and a breast-feeding pillow. I hated the clock. It never stopped in my head. (What time did she last eat? When did she fall asleep? How many times has she pooed today? What time do I wake her? When’s her next feeding? And so on.) I hated that it took 40 minutes and days of anxiety-filled pre-planning to leave the house for the shortest of trips (When will she need to nap? what do I need to bring? how long will we be gone? If I have to breastfeed her where can I do it? If she cries in the middle of the grocery store, what do I do?! – I need to get the groceries! – ?). Hated playgroups (I’m not a “girly” girl and I’m not into sitting around with a bunch of women who just want to talk about their babies and marvel and coo at them and blech, blech, blech). Hated being spit up on. Hated the crying. Hated being attached to somebody all. of. the. time. Hated pushing a stroller (so much STUFF to bring!). Hated needing spoons/special food/bibs with me if I were going anywhere. Hated it. All. of. it. The “but you’re paid a fortune in smiles” bit women sell you is total crap in my book.
    It was worse during her first year, but I still struggle every day. I’m resentful, angry, and hurt. I barely left the house for months when she was little, and leave now only when I have to, which also leaves me trapped at home alone all day wallowing in unhappy circumstances.
    And because it’s generally an unpopular viewpoint, I’ve given up trying to explain how I feel to even the closest of friends and family. I’m so tired of feeling alone in this, and having to lie to people and plaster a vacant smile of contentment on my face when they ask me how I’m doing and squeal with pleasure, “Don’t you just love it?!”. Because, no. No, I do not love it.
    From almost the day she was born, I was not only counting down the days till she was a “kid” and not a baby/toddler, but would regularly tell (and by tell I mean cry/whine/sob to) my husband how much I wish she was born 3 or 4 years old. I would – without a twinge – take the first three years of her life and squash them into a 6-month (or less!) period if I could. I’m not exaggerating. If given a fairy wand, I’d take the opportunity. (Mind you, she’s only 19 months old. I don’t even know what it’s like to have a 2 year old yet; i’m just assuming I’ll continue to hate it since it involves tantrums and contrariness and the continued inability to have solid verbal exchanges with her.)
    There aren’t many of us (and all those totally-in-love-with-their-babies mothers you meet don’t help me feel any less alone), but I’m glad to – slowly – come across a few in cyber-land. Babyhood (and to a lesser extent toddlerhood) isn’t my bag, my cup of tea or my forte, and in the end I think that’s ok. I know I like kids (older ones) and that life will – dear-god-I-hope-I’m-not-wrong-about-this – be better when she’s bigger. I already know it gets a little better as they become mobile (I couldn’t WAIT for her to walk and still consider it a gift from her to me for life) and verbal (another huge plus), but at 19 months I’m still waiting for her to be 4 years old already and start being remotely “fun”.
    Oh, and in a fit of insanity masked as making serious life-decisions for our family, I decided we could have another kid now (I really want my daughter to have a sibling, as I can’t imagine my life without mine and think it’s important for her). I’m due this summer. Scared. Sad. Hopeful.
    Anyway, thanks for letting me rant. But more importantly, thank you, thank you for the post and to all those whose comments I read that made me feel at least a little less alone.

  130. I was born during the ’80’s have never seen the band play live. My love for the band is something that had formed through listening and singing along to their songs I never get tired of listening to. Tipong, this reunion, this 83008, means so much to me, a fan, because, probably, hopefully, this might be my only chance of seeing the greatest band play songs that define my life.Happy new year by joy.

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