Sunday, October 05, 2008

Screaming Inside

"how's it going?"
"how are you liking school?"
"are you enjoying your classes?"
"don't you just love the bay area?"

I get asked questions like these nearly every day. Usually the first two. And I never know exactly how I'm supposed to respond. Am I supposed to be honest and tell this person that I'm dying inside? I highly doubt they want to hear that. Especially the people from my school. How do I nicely explain that it's absolutely nothing personal, nothing against the school itself or the program or faculty, I simply experienced an existential crisis and suddenly discovered that I'm really a stay at home mom and I'm fighting that identity with everything in me and it's making me miserable? How can I explain to a person without kids - or even a working mother - that every moment I am away from my child I am being eaten up inside...I hurt every second of it. It's not a relief. It's an ache. I am sorry every moment that I'm not with her. And not guilt-sorry, but regret-sorry.

Absence doesn't make my heart grow fonder. Presence does. I don't know why or how, but I honestly don't get tired of her. Maybe one day I will...but on that day, maybe I'll be ready for my own life again. At the moment, I really wasn't. Oh, I'm still doing it - I'm still out there doin' the career thing. But it's not fulfilling or fun. Yes, I sit there and have adult conversations. I find them boring. Yes, I am ridiculously obsessed with my baby. But it's my truth right now.

And I know it's all me - it's not anybody else's problem or fault. I blame nothing but myself. Still, it's hard to live with. I so wish I'd not taken any classes. I wish I'd listened to my heart and been good to myself. I'm still taking lots of time with Maggie, but selfishly, it's not enough. I'd rather play with her or read parenting books than do homework. I mean, I didn't know it would be like this - not when I applied or when I accepted or when I enrolled or when I decided to stick it out with one class. I keep testing the waters, but it keeps coming back Maggie, Maggie, Maggie.

I think I'm getting depressed. I'm having trouble sleeping, and getting obsessive & anxious, and getting mad at everybody over dumb things. I feel so rootless. I have no home. No safe place. I can't even think of one that I have access to (and I've tried - when I meditate, I have no "happy place" to go to). Yes, that's a bad situation I put myself in. Naughty me. But I have to live with it now, and find a way forward.

I mean, don't think I'm all crazy sad and crying all the time. In fact, I'm quite good, most of the time -because I'm with Maggie most of the time. And that's why I wonder if there isn't something to this staying at home thing, because the only time I'm sad is when I'm not with her. I don't need time away. I simply don't right now. I really do just hate sitting there in class, or when I have to send her away with Daddy so I can read. I really hate being away from her.

And yes, I know I have to cut her loose to be her own person one day. But for God's sake, she's four months old. I don't think I'm smothering her yet!

It's funny...people kept telling me I'd feel different.
Oh, you're just pregnant.
Oh, you're just postpartum.
Oh, you've just moved.
Oh, you just have a newborn.
Oh, this that and the other.

Ummmm...Or maybe, I actually feel this way. Maybe it's not to be blamed on hormones or stress. Maybe I'm genuinely at a place in my life where the best thing for me is to just be a Mommy.

Well there's not much I can do about it. I'm sticking out the year at least, to make sure I don't screw up this golden opportunity at the phd. I can always do a phd later, it's true (and I wish I had), but I won't necessarily have the deal I have right now, which is pretty ideal. So I'm giving it a good fair shot. And who knows? I couldn't have predicted not liking it, so maybe one day I'll surprise myself and love it again.

Or maybe I'll just remain so deeply in love with my child that I will let the screaming out of my insides, into the world, and then it can be quiet in there. I'd so love that. To just be real and honest and me. Even if the me is really a disappointment to the academic world, and the feminists, and whoever else thinks I'd be wasting my life.

OK, I'm going back to my baby now. I'm not wasting any more of these precious moments on you people. Ha ha -just kidding! I would be lost without this blog. I need the venting space, and I need your support. But I also need to change a diaper, so bye!


twocents said...

I think the beauty of a REAL feminism--as opposed to a dogmatic one that demands women fit any "ideal" either liberal or conservative--is that you should be able to choose what's right for you and your family without ideological pressure. Peace, my friend. You're in my prayers.

JTB said...

recommendation: find the book _Mama, PhD_ and skip right to the non-traditional academics section and read it first, see if it helps. at the very least, you'll know you're not the only one.

Gail P Smith said...

Wellll when you have a child as adorable as Maggie, who wouldn't want to be with her 24/7?
All I can say is I felt the same way 100%. Motherhood is the most difficult, amazing, challenging, fun and exasperating job there is. It's requirements are constantly changing, requiring energy, creativity, integrity and a good bit of intuition and that's the short list. If being the most important person in a child's life, helping to teach her about life and how to live it isn't fulfilling then I don't know what would be. Certainly was the most wonderful ride I've ever had.
If mothering is such a waste of time and so easy to be good at, why are there so many messed up kids who don't even know if anyone loves them around today?