I’ve been taking a self-help/comedy writing class called “ROAR with Laughter.” We have a performance this coming weekend. I’ll share the link soon, if you want to Zoom watch us. Anyway, it’s been enlightening and healing, and I recommend it if you can carve out the money and time. The leader is a life coach/former therapist who found that her sense of humor is what helped her survive some really devastating family stuff in the past few years, so she leads our group of women through our hurt, with humor. This week’s assignment was to describe something painful that later became enlightening and empowering. Please enjoy!
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My husband and I tried to have kids for years, which meant we had a lot of lame sex. Like a chafing amount of lame sex. Every thirty days I’d hold my breath, and every thirty days, a little bloody murder scene in my pants told me I’d failed to get pregnant. I peed on that little narrow pregnancy stick (so…on my fingers…) ten thousand times, just willing it to do the watercolor thing and spread from the one tiny window to the other and give me some good news. Each negative was like an indictment on my ability to do the most basic women-y thing. The longer it took, the more desperate I became, the more it took over my identity.
Many months into trying, long after I’d come to look at the male penis as a symbol of all that is disappointing in this world, and with help of hormonal intervention that put me into rage sweats, we got pregnant. And then I lost it. Abruptly and painfully. Then more trying, more hormones, more lame sex, more pregnancy…and more blood. At that point, hope felt like the end of a blade I had to avoid in order to stay alive. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to try again, or if I had it in me. If it was worth it. Maybe I was being punished for the cigarettes I’d smoked in college? For my unhealthy diet? For masturbation? For sometimes eating sugar cereal while masturbating?
Eventually, the planets and the genetic puzzle all came together and made a baby who lived to see the light of my vagina. I should be clear, it doesn’t actually have its own lighting. It’s not an Ikea showroom situation, I just mean the baby made its way out into the light of the delivery room, a fully-formed human bean. (That chafed, too).
When my son was born, after all that struggle, I expected I’d be a peaceful, grateful zen mom. And I was, for, like, the first…thirty hours, at which point, when my husband couldn’t read my mind that I needed Kleenex to sop up my snotty, postpartum tears, I stomped to the bathroom and literally tore the bathroom door off its hinges. Right off. But…that must have been a fluke, right? This baby is all I’d wanted for years!! How could I feel anything but THRILLED and hashtag blessed?! It was hard, but I couldn’t admit it was hard or that I needed help. If it felt HARD, it was only because I was doing it wrong and needed to try harder.
Two years later, when the first miracle was in a notoriously pleasant stage of life, and we had JUST started having recreational sex again, I spontaneously got pregnant. I held my breath, checking my pants for signs of a sad massacre for the ten months of pregnancy, but this one, a daughter, made it into the showroom, too! Great! It would give me a second opportunity to really marinate in gratitude, to roll around in the stink of the miracle of life.
BUT…GOD DAMMIT, THIS ONE WAS HARD, TOO!!! Even harder, in fact. WHAT THE FUCK!? It was like…say you have a rat problem, so you buy…more rats to eat the first rats? And they wrestle and their tails get all entwined and they just sort of morph together, and THEN you have a king rat problem? It was like that.
It took me years, but I’m finally acknowledging that feeling overwhelmed, scared, tired, lonely, and unappreciated isn’t because I’m somehow bad at being a mom, or that I lack gratitude. Motherhood IS huge, scary, sad, exhausting, and thankless. I’ve mostly come to terms with that. Also, I’ve learned to write about it- something that has helped me, and others.
I love my kids, of course. An unreasonable amount. I love this king rat so fucking much sometimes I can’t breathe. And yet, still, it’s hard. I remember all the lame sex, the tears, and the longing it took to whip up these miracles, and I’m so thankful they’re here. And yet, still. It. Is. Hard.
Well, the first one took all that work and longing. The little one just sort of showed up, so I guess she’s like Miracle Whip Light? Don’t tell her I said that. Seriously don’t. She scares me.
Anyway, what I’m saying is, I think it’s OK to be both thankful and completely freaked out, both relieved and stressed, both content and alarmed every single second of every single day and OH MY GOD DID SHE JUST CUT THE DOG’S HAIR, I HAVE TO GO.