I hate today.
(I love my mother, but I hate today).
Today is a reminder that three years ago I was grateful for a uterus and The Opportunity to Try. Two years ago I was anxious. One year ago I was desperate. Or despaired, if that's a thing.
Today I am crushed. I feel like a flat worm, squashed beneath a semi-truck, baked in the afternoon sun, picked at by a raven. Desiccated and not terribly pleasant company. I want to hide from social media so my poisonous opinion doesn't leech out into the internet and lose me precious friends. I want to drink heavily and binge on the last seven seasons of Grey's Anatomy I never saw, except that even Meredith betrayed me at some point and I'm not sure I can stomach her obnoxious face-presentation miracle baby born via c-section in a power outage by candle light. Even though I'd love to visit my own mother and spend time appreciating her and everything she has brought to me, I'm not in the mood.
I've tried therapy. Radical self-care. Running away. Blogging my heart out like a sea cucumber in distress. Divorce. Renunciation.
(and that's just the list of things I've attempted to stop wanting to get pregnant)
I'm exceptionally grateful for a wonderful mother, and I get that our Mother's Days are numbered. The thought of spending this day with her on one side of the ethereal plane and me on the other is excruciating, and that's just a thought. I have so many friends who have lost their mothers, or who have been abandoned or abused by their mothers. Many of my friends had mothers who treated them like shoes or individually-wrapped slices of American cheese. Several of my friends became mothers by accident and have forced themselves into a shape and size that appears maternal, despite their complete lack of interest.
I am so fortunate in this life that I could truly scratch out my own eyes for being ungrateful about this one, tiny detail.
Motherhood is triggering, because we all have a sad story about motherhood. And this is why everyone is flummoxed by my chosen line of work. How can I work in the world of birth and be so downright vile at the same time? Well here's your answer.
The Interesting List of Things That Trigger Me:
- People who ask me if I have children or how many children I have. I get that this is an innocent question. Most mothers are exceptionally giddy and braggy when asked this question, so it's a great conversation starter. It makes me want to drink gasoline and tonic, on the rocks.
- People who tell me I will be a great mother. Again, this is a compliment. And I agree completely. Thank you so much for recognizing how hard I have worked to know everything I need to know, for fostering an attitude that children adore, for being a “baby whisperer.” Salt rim on the open wound, my darlings.
- People who suggest various brilliant ideas about how to get pregnant or tell me it will happen when I'm ready. As it turns out, I'm a bit of a birth-nerd. No matter what the suggestion is, I have tried it or researched it more thoroughly than most anyone I've met, because as it turns out, I'm more invested in my pregnancy than you are. PS: I'm ready.
- Hearing people bitch about being pregnant with perfectly healthy babies. Maybe they got pregnant (again!) sooner than they had expected, or maybe they wanted a different gender or season for the birth. Cry me a river, darling. I would (just about) kill to be in your shoes.
- Being told there is nothing wrong with me. Western medicine has looked me up and down, taken me apart and reassembled me and confirmed that I'm perfectly healthy, nowhere near menopause, and ovulating like a rabbit. This makes my mysterious lack of pregnancy entirely mental, spiritual, or (my favorite) An Act of God.
The More Interesting List of Things That Do Not Trigger Me
- Attending births. Yup. I have an explicit role at a birth. I get to channel my inner Lorax, my bookworm, my medical anthropologist and my med school drop out. It's like Christmas every time!
- Owning a prenatal yoga studio. It's birth and babies all around this place, and nothing makes me happier than teaching prenatal yoga classes, postpartum yoga classes, breastfeeding classes, or chitty chatting with people about parenthood. I know a lot and love to share it. I explain things in a way that people understand and remember.
- Holding babies. As it turns out, they love me (and I love them, too). They're precious, adorable, and not yet totally fucked up by this world. It doesn't make me achey or sad in the slightest. Promise.
Mother's Day is hard for me. I hate it, actually, because it is one of those greeting card, shit-eating holidays. I'm supposed to buy my mom bacon and eggs. Or flowers. Or get a pedicure with her. Or celebrate our unique bond. And I can't do that without also realizing that I'm 34 and despite my incessant ovulation and promiscuity, this appears to be the only side of motherhood I'll get to experience in my life.
My opinion of Mother's Day has been hijacked by my lack of mental health, and I'm very sorry for that. I wish I could drink mimosas with her and talk about all of her grandmotherly expectations while someone else paints our toenails.
My opinion of my mother, however, has improved greatly through this experience. About two years ago I asked her how long it took her to get pregnant with me. I mentioned we'd been trying, and I gulped hard, anxious for her story of long-awaited pregnancy, triumph over infertility, or recipe for a secret, magical cure.
She asked me, and I lied. Awhile. And she said the sweetest, most perfect, most maternal thing she could have said.
“You can always talk to me about this. And I will never ask.”
Thanks, mama. For all the ways in which we are different, for all the ways in which you will never understand my wild spirit, my neurotic lists, my complete defiance of my genetics. Thank you for getting this: that you have the greatest capacity to kill my spirit and that instead, you showed me how much love is possible.
Happy Mother's Day.