Her Bad Mother

Friday, October 10, 2008


That, too, did pass.

The children fell asleep, eventually, and I regained my calm, and even though the night was not a peaceful one, it was fine, I managed, it was only, after all, some hours, some very few hours, out of a life that is otherwise filled with love and joy and good things (like their sweet, sweet faces and heart-bursting smiles, which I love so much, so very much, even when I'm screaming or crying or groaning - from frustration, from exhaustion - on the inside.) The cats might have suffered a little bit of verbal abuse (I appreciate their commitment to standing sentry at the crib of the screaming baby, but their inclination to lend their ear-piercing Siamese yowls to the chorus of shrieking did nothing to mellow my harsh) but otherwise, we all made it through the night with our hearts and minds intact. More's the blessing.

And now, today, the little man and I take our leave for the weekend, for a little drive down to Boston with this fine lady. I will miss the husband and the girl - the girl will grow even bigger in these coming three days, and I will miss those days of growing, which speed by too quickly now - but the break from the everyday will be good. Restorative. Fun.

I need this.

I also need a hot pink convertible, but that's a completely different story.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


It was all going so well. The crib had been set up and baby moved into the nursery, the husband was home at night and embracing the task of night-time baby monitoring, the Ativan prescription was filled and ensuring that just as soon as baby had last pass at the breast for the evening, I could go right to sleep. And it was working. I was sleeping. It was good. For about four days, it was good.

Too good to last.

I am currently hanging on to my sanity by the barest threads, doing everything in my power to ignore the tightness in my neck and the pain behind my eyes as I listen to the baby FREAK OUT in the other room after 36 hours of only sleeping in 30 minute stretches. The husband is gone on his second night of overnight filming and I'm afraid to take the Ativan while he's gone and for some reason the baby and the girl have both decided that they cannot and will not sleep while he is not in the house and the one is shrieking (teething? sinus pain? WILL TO TERRORIZE ME?) while the other is jumping on her bed and tossing her stuffed animals around her room and the cats are yowling for their dinner and I have not slept since yesterday morning and I AM SLOWLY GOING MAD.

It is taking all of my will to keep from shrieking SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP at all of them. It is taking all of my will.

I have a strong will. I also have a strong bedroom door, and I currently have my back pressed up against it. I'm sitting on the floor, trying to block out the noise, trying to slow my breathing, trying to keep my calm, trying to keep my calm, trying to keep my calm.

I know that this, too, shall pass. I know that at some point - maybe in a few hours, maybe in a few days - I will look at the beautiful faces of my sleeping children and feel that blissed-out, satisfied calm that is one of parenthood's greatest rewards and I will remember this moment - this moment of wanting to scream - only in the abstract.

But it is still this moment, right now, this terrible moment, and all I can do is live through it.

I press a pillow to my face and scream.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Blood And Tears

Ordinarily, I faint at the sight of blood. Or I freak out. Or both. You would think that I would be all the more the likely to do both when the blood that I'm looking at has drenched the front of my little girl's shirt and puddled in the palms of her wee outstretched hands. Thankfully, on this occasion, I keep my wits about me. I manage to stay upright and conscious as my baby girl, not quite three years old, throws her bloodied, sobbing self into my arms and dribbles blood-streaked mucous down my back.


I put her down and she opens her mouth to show me. Blood dribbles down her front, a thick red stream of slobber that drenches her shirt. Her tears streak down her face and wash little trails through the red stain on her chin. I wobble, a little, and swallow the cry of alarm that is burbling up in my throat.


I drop to my knees in front of her. If I'm going to pass out I might as well be close to the floor, and in any case, I need to check to see whether she's knocked all her teeth out. I take a deep breath to steady myself. Open your mouth, baby, I say. I need to see inside your mouth. I need to see your teeth.

She opens her mouth. Blood dribbles out over her bottom lip and splashes over her chin before dropping in midair, suspended in a thick trail of drool. I stretch out my sleeve and catch the gob, and then use the sleeve of the other arm to dab at her bloodied mouth. This is how I know that I am a parent: I do not faint, and I do not recoil at having my clothes soaked in blood and spit. I pause for a moment to marvel at that fact - I've seen this girl bloodied before, many a time, but not nearly so dramatically, and I wouldn't have thought that I could handle it - and then scoop her bloodied little body into my arms and carry her to the bathroom.

I soak a washcloth and dab the blood from her mouth.

ARE *sob* ALL *sob* MY TOOFS *sob* THERE?

Yes, sweetie. They're all there. The washcloth turns red in my hands. I rinse it under the tap and squeeze it out. I dab her mouth again, and rinse again; dab, rinse; dab, rinse. The cloth gets pinker, the water runs clearer. I can see that she's cut her lip. This is how I know that I'm parent: her blood doesn't rattle me, now that I know she's safe, but this tiny wound cuts me to the quick. My heart seizes at this little injury, this tiny marker of her vulnerability. I kiss the tip of my index finger and gently press it to her lip. We'll make it feel better, sweetie, I say. We'll make it better. I pause and press her hand to my heart. You scared Mommy.

I *sob* BETTER NOW *sob* MOMMY... I *snorflesob* *mumble* AGAIN, MOMMY.

What's that, sweetie?


How I know that I'm her parent: I let her. I clasp her little hand and, together in our blood-stained shirts, we march back into the playroom and she climbs back onto the sofa and then - still grasping my hand - flings herself into the air. And I catch her. And then we clutch each other in a mess of blood and tears and snot and I whisper into her hair, don't do that again when I'm not right beside you, okay? I don't like it when you get hurt.

How I know that she's my daughter: she puts her little hand against my heart. And I don't like it when YOU get hurt, Mommy. She presses gently. I be careful. Then she pulls her hand out of mine and climbs back onto the couch, and - grinning a mad, blood-streaked smile - jumps again.

In this moment, in this bloody, messy, painful moment, I love being a parent. Blood and tears and pain and all, I love it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rockabye, Mommy, With The Sweet Pills...

Shhhh... am sleeping. AM SLEEPING.

Husband home, baby in crib in nursery and Ativan, sweet Ativan = SLEEP = SANITY.

*rolls back over, fluffs pillow, pulls quilt up to chin*