“A narcissist. Totally self involved. Your children are lucky they had a more involved father. SHAME.”
“It sure would be convenient to parent at your leisure; it just wouldn’t be parenting, would it?”
“You seem very proud of yourself for someone who caused so much needless misery in the lives of two little children. You seem to buy every aspect of the grandiose rationalization you’ve constructed.”
Would we hear the same if the writer had a penis?
I’ve been beating my brain and heart for weeks about this decision, one weighted against my own background of loss, my experiences with other children of divorce. I remember the look on a friend’s face everytime her mother came, and left. I remember the echoing hollow of my chest not having a mother. It was hideous. I’ve been weighing the guilt of this decision against something so vagrant and seemingly radical that I don’t know if I can voice it without the critical mass rising up and howling for my blood.
I want to know myself, and be happy. I never wanted children either. I love them fiercely, but if I’m honest, and in the red light of a late night I am, I am not the mother they need or deserve. I am a shadow with them, a stressed shell of a woman who knows not herself or the world around her. A woman child who has made life altering decisions for others, always. For my father. For a husband. For a child.
I find myself now without time, without pause, in stasis, unable to move. So much time spent being broken, being in a broken concept that I cannot figure out what it means to be me.
And so selfish, I think I see the answer, even as it breaks my heart.
The problem is, it breaks my heart for all the wrong reasons. I don’t hear my own desires (for space, oh blessed space I can trap myself in, the silence stretching before me like a ribbon, the stillness I could melt to) I don’t hear my desire for my children’s happiness.
I hear the judgment, and the guilt of the modern mother, or more accurately, the war against her.
Does my vagina make me a better person? Does it automatically invest in my abilities their father doesn’t have? A bigger, warmer heart? More patience? The desire to play Lego? The want to be there, day in and day out until my hair grows greyer, faster?
Why is it that because I have created these creatures, willingly or unwillingly, regardless of my desire for them, I am to be tethered so absolutely to them, forever? And why does this not extend in the same way to a father? If I were the man, I could have left months ago, with nothing more than a “tsk tsk” to feather behind a door. If I were a man, my desire for summer visits and the occasional weekend would be lauded. My desire to have any interaction with my children at all would very nearly be considered revolutionary.
But I, possessing of a vulva and breasts, am none of these things for leaving. I am a bad mother, a selfish, narcissistic person, and a shitty all around creature. For wanting to breathe.
I spent the majority of my weekend with my girls, and by the morning on Monday all I could think about was getting back to normal, where normal is a day with limited interaction with them. I couldn’t bear to be touched any longer, and my knee jerk near revulsion when one of them jumped on me or asked for hug left even me ashamed.
Later when speaking with my boyfriend, I lost it. I burst into tears and couldn’t see why.
But then I could.
I spent about 2.5 days straight with my daughters, the longest amount of time I have in months, despite them living with me. And I hated it.
I hated the noise. I hated the sticky fingers, the need to be near me, constant, the mess that spiraled out from them, their crap, ever increasing in all directions, their voices, their incessant need. And I hated the way I felt, distant and unknowing.
I have all the stress for the least reward. My children spent the majority of their day at school and then with my father, seeing me for thirty minutes before school, and a few hours in the afternoon. Then weekends they spend with their father, who they miss and are genuinely happy to see. With me, it’s like puppies aching for affection, and I feel stunted and small.
I am not raising them, and I am fairly confident I no longer want to try.
I am not saddened by that thought, at least, not as much as I likely should be. I am saddened by the thought that at least a few of you think badly of me for it, for my rapidly approaching decision to walk away. I am annoyed that anyone might think this easy-I am full up with what if’s, and should’s. I am angry that as their mother, I am to be everything-I do not want it. I never did.
That makes it harder, that lack of wanting. How do I explain any of this to people who want their children, who enjoy them, who are made better for them? I am made hollow by this mothering, this facade. I am not made better, or am good for them. I am unhappy with them, unhappy in this house and with this life.
This, this home, this place, these children, they are all failures I cannot change. A dream I had once that I cannot assemble, and have lost the will to fight with.
I am not the mother anyone thinks I am, or should be.
You have your homes. You have your warm place. I have empty reminders of all the people I wasn’t, and cannot be.
I cannot do it any longer.
I am terrified.
I want a clean slate. I want to start over, and breathe slowly, and finally determine, finally understand what I want. See if I can become the mother my daughters deserve, in months or years from now. I cannot be that woman here, not now, not like this.
I want a little house with a garden someday, a small thing like a fairy cottage, with lattice and fence, grasses. Stained glass in the window, trees all around. An attic room for my daughters, chicken coop behind. A quiet, sane place we can hide in, where I can love and stretch my arms. A place where the air is scented of lilacs and sunlight.
What I have is a house of cards collapsing, with a leaking basement, and a father who slowly seems to be taking over. I have become a wisp of a dream here, a passing thought to pay the mortgage and cafeteria bills.
I cannot do this, and I am scared.
Do not judge. You never quite know what it’s like in here.