I didn't start off this way. I was once like you. But being a Mom has beaten me down. Let me take you through my process.
. I found out I was going to be a Mommy in my final year in college. Like most women I was scared and excited all at once. I didn't know what to expect so, in true scholarly fashion I began my research. Any time I attack a project I give it my all. I read all the pregnancy and parenting books I could get my hands on. I took those worthless pre-natal classes
. I tried to learn everything I could about breast-feeding. I was going to ace this!
I had a very healthy pregnancy that gave me very little trouble. Labour and delivery took a long time (36 hours!) but there were no complications. My baby was perfectly beautiful.
. I began failing as a mother almost immediately. I couldn't get my baby to latch properly. The first six weeks of life were a living hell. There was a lot of crying, most of it by me. I was so worried it wasn't going to work because we had no money for formula. None. I hated every bitch who told me how wonderful breast feeding is; how natural and easy. With much stubborn perseverance we got through it but I was always uncomfortable when some women would praise me for this. If I'd had the money I most likely would have jumped at formula feeding.
Although my problems with breast-feeding were unrelated to the future problems I would have with Frick, the experience of it set the stage for all future maternal frustrations and shortcomings.
After the breast-feeding was finally going, Frick started teething. That's when he started biting me. Only me. He only ever wanted to bite me. He took great joy and delight in it. There would be a great happy grin on his face and then, CHOMP! No matter how many chew toys I gave him, no matter how much redirection, he was always sneaking up on me and biting me. I told myself, "This is normal. He will grow out of it." I was still very confident in my parenting abilities. I had read the best of the books and all the latest magazines.
. The first half of this year was spent avoiding Frick's pirhanna-like mouth. But I was still optimistic. After all I'm a very good student and I was reading very good books. Frick had not yet started tantrums and he could not yet speak. He was just cute and adorable and bitey and charming as all hell.
Which made it easier to forgive him for destroying all of our property
. He was a very destructive baby. I thought, "It's normal for babies to be destructive. He will grow out of it."
. This was the year of the beginning of Frick's nuclear meltdowns
. Frick's tantrums were so violent he often had to be restrained in order to prevent him from hurting himself. He did it everywhere for the smallest of annoyances. People were pretty nice about it though. It helped that I got sympathetic looks most of the time. I thought, "See? Other people have gone through this. It's normal. He will grow out of it." I read a lot of parenting books that year. I may as well have read the Sunday funnies.
. This is the year that Frick fell in love with ramming his head into things. Particularly the crotchular region of adult men. He was the perfect height for bashing this area. He would back up from across the room, gaining some pretty good momentum before hitting the target. If you were a less than vigilant guy you would be singing opera for a couple of hours after. It took a while and we finally got him to stop doing it to Daddy, but he wasn't convinced that this was a universally unwanted behaviour. He was a scientist. He had to test it out on any male he ever came into contact with. It was like owning a rambunctious dog. "Boys sure are weird," I thought.
This is also the year he started colouring on anything but paper. This artistic experimentation with media lasted for another four years. No matter how many times he had to clean up his crayon markings on the wall he would be at it again the very next day. I have confiscated crayons from this kid more times than I can count.
This is also the year we started toilet training, so far my most detested parenting experience. "This is normal. He will grow out of it" became my mantra. With shameless bribery (and many gummi bears) we got through the worst of it but the power struggles we had did lasting damage. This is now a medical issue. Not normal, but he may still outgrow it.
This is also the year Frick started to punish me. In his mind he felt that any time I made him do or experience anything unpleasant, be it giving him a time out or making him go to bed when he didn't want to, he could punish me. He was amazingly creative in the art of Sticking It To Mommy. This was the year I began to feel as if this kid was out to get me. I cried a lot.
This was the year I began to hate the expression "Being a Mom is the most wonderful experience of my life!"
Women who had the capacity to utter this phrase unironically were dead to me. I was in a very dark place.
. This was the year that Frick began what was to be a stellar academic career
. I should have seen his dumping a bucket of sand on some kid's head the very first day as an ominous sign. Instead I involuntarily laughed. Frick was explosive but sand-bucketing some kid wasn't within what I then considered to be his capabilities. Oh, little did I understand the true extent in Frick's genius for shocking me. But hey, "Boys will be boys."
Frick loved school and seemed to be doing very well, giving me false hopes. He continued to tantrum like a toddler, destroy anything he touched and scribble on walls, windows and furniture. He had no crayons for most of that year and he still
managed to do this. That and punish me for the sin of making him eat vegetables or brush his teeth.
This is the year he started to lie. A lot. He did lie before this year but this is the year lying became like breathing. And he was terrible at it. Even more fun was that when you refused to believe what were very obvious lies he would get outraged and indignant. But of course
little kids lie. They don't want to get into trouble. Normal.
. Best year ever. He was awesome at five. Helpful and sweet. Way less tantrummy, but on the few occasions he did meltdown things got ugly and extreme. Overall though he was less destructive, more polite, and easier to take out in public. I thought, "See? All of my parenting is finally showing some results. I'm glad I read all those books!" Sure he did a lot of annoying stuff still, but what little boy doesn't? Little boys are chatter boxes who never stop talking and are super impulsive all the time, right?
Near the end of this year Frick started saying, "I'm turning 6 and when I do I will be a big boy and I can do whatever I want." And every time he said that I said, "No you cannot. That won't happen."
He never heard me.
. Frick is 6 and he is a big boy and he can do whatever he wants. And so he does do whatever he wants. Whatever crazy, half-baked idea enters his head, well he's just gonna do it. This is the year I had to swear a lot. This is the year he did things that were so shocking, so unexpected that the F-word would fly out of my mouth involuntarily. First I would gasp and sputter in sudden apoplexy. Then I would be frozen in paralytic anger. Then I would have to shout or say the F-word or risk having a seizure.
The vast majority of time outs that year were given to me. I would run down to the basement and scream a little, and then break something and finally, sob out of sheer frustration.
I remember I would wake up every single day saying to myself, "Today I am not going to let Frick get to me. I am not going to shout or lose my temper. I am going to be a good mother or die trying!" I ended every single day unable to sleep as I rehashed all the ways I had failed my son as a mother. "Please God, let this be normal. Have pity on me and let him grow out of it." If I couldn't even handle a normal little boy then I must be the worst of mothers.
. This was the year Frack was born. We got a lot more notes home from the teacher. Fights on the playground, homework not being done, running away from the teacher on school trips. Everyone seemed content to blame Frick's odd behaviour on the new baby, but I was growing skeptical. After the events of one terrible day
, where my husband was the one to lose his shit, we went and got professional help.
This is the year we found out about ADHD. Our son was not normal. And he might not grow out of it. I didn't know what to think. I was afraid I was going to never have a hope of helping my kid. All those parenting books were garbage. I had to relearn everything about being a mom. I had to learn to not only not sweat the small stuff: I had to learn how to not sweat the medium stuff and a couple of the big things, too.
It was scary but finding out about his ADHD was the best thing to happen this family. I was finally given the tools I needed to cope.
I was finally able to help my son.
My perfectly beautiful, funny, sweet, lovable son.
It was during this time that I began to realize just how damaging the myth of Perfect Motherhood had been for me and for women like me. I understood that on the scale of attention deficit my son scored low enough to not medicate. What does that mean then, for the mom who should medicate, and all the fun judgment that goes along with that? Or the mother of Autism spectrum, or Down's Syndrome? These are women with real
problems and must experience all the darker sides of mothering perhaps worse than I did.
How hurtful it is to be reminded by other moms
that the worst fears you have about yourself; that you're a bad mother and don't deserve your children, might be true?
That if you feel angry and frustrated and hopeless and sad most of the time you are somehow ungrateful for gifts from God. To be afraid to say out loud you feel this way and reveal yourself to be a heartless monster. To not be allowed to commiserate and find comfort in women who are struggling in the same way. To feel isolated and alone and evil.
And so this is the year I began to go Rotten. I began to be irreverent and heretical when it came to the Holy Station of Motherhood. I began to see it as the source of all the division amongst mothers: natural childbirth vs. epidural/c-section, breastmilk vs. formula, stay at home vs. working moms. If there is anything to be disagreed on in motherhood it is sure to not just become a difference of opinion but a Holy War.
A Mommy War.
It was getting to me so much I finally had to express myself and Mommy Rotten was born. I felt like it was time to get punk rock on the establishment of Mom.
I want moms like me to know they are not alone.
I want them to laugh.