I am starting to realize that postpartum depression isn’t the only deep well you might find yourself falling into after you become a mother. Motherhood –it seems- drives you slowly insane irregardless. I not only understand why some mothers have drowned themselves and their children in lakes but I am now rather cautious in my once solid claim that I would never be them. I don’t pretend to know the motives of these unfortunate women, but for me in those moments when it is the third night in a row of continually disrupted sleep after three years of not a lot of sleep anyway I worry that I might just put a pillow over his face to get him to stop crying and I might forget to take it off before he is no longer breathing. On those nights I go and get my husband, who sleeps in his own room, blissfully unaware of how tortured I am feeling. The tone of my voice apparently does not convey my desperation because when I say “I need you to take him” instead of immediately rescuing our child from his temporarily unstable mother, he goes to the bathroom… and then gets a drink of water… all the while my son is still screaming and crying and trying to cling to me. I say again with more earnest “I need you to take him… now.”
When my husband comes home from work, I look up at him and say “I didn’t make anything for dinner, would you like me to make you something now?” He is again oblivious to the defeated exhaustion by which I am slowly being crushed because he says: “Yes.” Later, perhaps rethinking his selfish response he says: “You know, you should have a ‘get out of jail free card’ for dinner. You could just call work and say that you are too tired and I should buy myself something to eat on the way home.” A get out of jail free card only reinforces the idea that this is jail, which one finds oneself in for doing something wrong. Why doesn’t he call me and say: “Don’t worry about dinner, I am bringing something home for all of us.” He doesn’t because I am always there and I always make dinner. Maybe things have not changed all that much since the 50s.
It is worth noting that my son is an angel, and I love him more than anyone or anything I ever have or ever will. I am a good mother, but that isn’t the point because I am convinced that all mothers feel this way at one point or another. We just never talk about it. And though the idea of running away to some isolated mountain cabin or a sunny deserted beach without telling anyone and never to return sounds marvelously appealing, all I am really saying is I need a break. Actually not just one break, I need breaks (as in more than one day off once a year) to keep from feeling like I am continually teetering on the brink of insanity, and also I need sleep.