Monday, January 29, 2007

A Brief Interlude of Reason

This is being written at Peter's request, because I've been talking and talking about it; he said that he could tell me the same things but it would be a lot more effective if I could go back and "hear" myself saying them, at a time when I was calm and composed, after having gone through it once before. (This is polite-person-speak for "Don't MAKE me try and reason with you when you're being a raving lunatic and having melt-downs over the dust on the top shelves of the bookcase being proof you're an unfit mother -AGAIN.")

This past week, with Matilda being so ill and cranky and myself being so sleep-deprived really brought back the memories of how I felt when she was a newborn. It was the "I am soooo tired but I have to be alert because I'm worried about this little creature, and I keep crying because I feel so desperate, and I don't want to be left alone for a moment, but I don't want any help either, because I should be handling it, because I'm the MUM, but I'm not handling it all that well, because I keep crying, therefore I'm a rubbish mum, therefore I have good reason to cry, and there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of that tunnel, and I just want to die, so that someone else more capable can raise my baby, but they wouldn't do everything the way I want to for my baby, THERE's something to cry about, WAAAAAH." stage -Too long to make a good book title, but a surprisingly accurate description of what was happening in the slush that passed for my brain at the time.

It was toned down quite a lot this past week, but enough of a time-warp effect to bring everything back. And I'm so AFRAID of doing it all again. I keep telling myself that with Matilda, it was very difficult for a while, and then it became easy and very-very lovely, and I got left with an amazingly pleasant, loveable, cute and FUN creature to spend my day with; and I ended up loving her so very much; and this time, I can be prepared. I KNOW it will be difficult, but I have Matilda to remind me of what it'll be like after it stops being difficult. I'll know I have something lovely to look forward to. I don't have to have the same high expectations from myself that I did last time. I have to be realistic. I have to be prepared. I AM prepared, that's why I've asked my mum to come and stay with us, when last time I told her not to come until after the first couple of weeks, when we've had time to bond. (Substitute bond with meditate on my lack of maternal instinct, uselessness and general insufficiency for a clear picture.) This time, I KNOW I'll be a hormonal mess. This time, I KNOW I told myself afterwards that it's a stupid idea to not let everyone around help you as much as they can. This time can be different.

And yet. I know when the time comes, I'm going to do everything exactly the same again. Self-depreciation is my special talent, and when it gets going it tends to snow-ball past any reason. I'll feel like I'm chickening out if I leave Spud with anyone so I can take a break. I'll feel like I'm a horrible mother if I yell at him, or pick him up a bit more abruptly, or think bad thoughts and not feel like I'm brimming with love when he's crying. I'll feel like I've ruined my child's life and my relationship with her if Matilda starts acting jealous or sad. I'll feel like I'm asking too much of Pete if I ask him to take over. I'll feel like I'm selling Spud short if I attend to Matilda first, and I'll feel like I'm selling Matilda short if I attend to Spud first. I'll KNOW, beyond all doubt, that I'm not coping and I don't deserve what I've got. And I'll KNOW, beyond all doubt, that it'll never get any better (despite all the evidence to the contrary. Don't try to convince me otherwise. You'll just annoy me. And then I'll feel guilty for being annoyed at you. And I'll drown you in tears. You have been warned.)

Why does it have to be like that? When I'm thinking clearly, I know this baby is wanted, will be much loved, and will be a positive addition to the family. I know I'm a good mother -Matilda is too wonderful for it to be any different. I enjoy her to no end, and I'm grateful for her every day. I am happy to accept help -I don't value independence so much as interdependence. I actually believe that being able to let go and rely on other people is an undervalued and underused skill in our society. I want my loved ones to take care of me, as much as I want to take care of my loved ones. But when the time comes, I know none of this will matter, and I'll just feel completely lost again. And I'm scared for it to happen.

I suppose Pete just wanted me to have written proof that I knew beforehand what things would be like, and that I admitted it would get better eventually and that I promised I would accept help graciously. Here it is, for what it's worth.

And now we return to our regular programme of insanity.

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