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Baby Dearest

This is my second attempt at #Fridayflash. My own feeling is that there is still something lacking in this – but I was so keen to continue being part of the ‘gang’, that I was eager to post anyway. As John Connolly said recently ‘part of the joy of writing is getting it nearly right, so you can do better next time.’

Anyway, here it is – I appreciate the time you’re taking to read it:


I don’t love you. I know I have responsibilities towards you and I carry them out with impeccable attention to detail. But it’s performed, with complete detachment and dispassion.

Is it terrible of me to wish that you had never been born? I resent that you have arrived and taken over my life. Tom gets to go to work – to escape. I don’t. I’m stuck here with you. Just the two of us. All day every day.

What have I become that the highlight of my existence is going to the supermarket? In fact, it’s more than that; going to the supermarket is an achievement. I have to have us both up and dressed appropriately for the weather. Then, I have to make sure I’ve got all the paraphernalia with me – nappies, wipes, a spare set of clothes, a clean bottle, cooled boiled water and the formula. Oh! I tried to breastfeed. It was a bloody nightmare. The nurses in the hospital didn’t know one end of a tit from the other. And they kept scaring me by telling me that you were starving to death while I was busy trying to get it right. It was a relief to give it up.

Inevitably, I forget to pick something up in the supermarket. Even if it’s on my shopping list. This makes me feel like a failure and can reduce me to tears. I am used to being competent, in control, capable. I am used to being looked up to as a remarkable woman with drive and ambition. Now, I can’t manage to get the grocery shopping done.

I have become a frightened person. A wave of fear washes over me when Tom leaves for work in the morning. I am afraid something will happen that I won’t be able to cope with. I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of the day that yawns ahead of me. I know it’s ridiculous. That’s why I can’t tell him. What would he think of me if I told him I was engulfed by fear every time he walks out the door?

I turn on the cooker to heat some soup for my lunch, and the image of me sitting you on the hotplate flashes through my mind – terrifying me. I know I wouldn’t do it, but the fact that I can see myself doing it means that I might, doesn’t it? I put you in another room before I turn the cooker on, in case I’m tempted. I’m afraid to tell anyone in case they take you away from me. Isn’t that farcical? I don’t want you, but I don’t want you to be taken from me.

Have I lost myself? If I have, where have I gone? Will I ever come back? When I return to work, will I be able to do my job?

Maybe it would be different if you were pretty. I can’t quite understand why you’re not. There is no one in my family or your father’s who looks like ET. Yet you do. Look at you – a big fat head on your long, wobbly neck. You’re supposed to be a little girl, yet anything less feminine I have never seen in my life. You’re all blubbery limbs with no hair and muddy brown eyes.

‘Oh! She’s so beautiful!’ strangers exclaim. I look at them like they’re nuts. Do they think that I don’t have eyes in my head? Do they think that I can’t see how un-beautiful you are? I suppose no one is going to come right out and say ‘Here, Missus – your kid is dog-ugly’ but they could say things like……… well, I don’t know. They could comment on how happy you are or something.

‘Is she good for you?’ they ask. It’s a stupid question, but I know what they mean. They mean ‘Does she disrupt your life as little as possible?’ So my answer, almost grudgingly, is ‘yes’. You’re probably a dream baby. That, too, terrifies me. I remember hearing how babies who die of  SIDS are ‘mail order’ babies. What would I do if I woke up one morning and you didn’t?

Tom gets in from work and scoops you up into his strong, capable arms. He coos at you and tells you he’s missed you. He asks me for updates. I tell him that you spend much of the day sleeping, a good part of it feeding and some part of it shitting.

Tom is a marvellous man – which is why I can’t tell him that I don’t love you. You’re his child as well, and Tom deserves to have his child loved by the mother of his child. I am filled with sorrow at my further failure – this inability to love Tom’s child. Sometimes I think the two of you would be better off without me. Tom could remarry. She – his second wife – would be vivacious, witty, sexy and a great mother to you. Maybe your new mother would even give you siblings.

Some days I think about leaving you and driving into the sea. I am filled with a jittery feeling that is edged with power. I know I am capable of it. Then I think of Tom and I know I probably won’t. I love him too much to hurt him.

I feel sorry for you because you have done nothing wrong and yet you don’t have the love of your mother. I know you’re entitled to it, but I can’t give it to you. That adds to my resentment. It’s like, by your very existence, you are pointing out a glaring failure on my part.

Maybe you’ll grow on me. Maybe one day I’ll wake up and adore you. I hope so. I suppose, for now, it’s enough that I’m doing my best for you. Even though it’s my perfunctory – rather than my heartfelt – best.

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21 thoughts on “Baby Dearest

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting, John! About a year ago, I heard two women on the radio discussing how post-natal depression affected them. It struck me as an interesting thing to write about because a) it’s so alien to me (thank God) and b) not adoring your child is quite a taboo. Thank you for pointing out that the baby was so like the mother/narrator. I hadn’t realised the parallel before you showed it to me. I *loved* your #Fridayflash today, BTW. Please leave the ending as it is!! 🙂 ~ Hazel

  1. Goodness! I don’t know what it is you believe this lacks, ’cause I don’t see it. An interesting view into the mind of a mother dealing with a sense of failure and loss of herself.

    Post-natal depression may well be alien to you, but I think you paint a really good picture of the pain there.

    Really well done.

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Kevin! I appreciate that you took the time to read and comment on my piece. I’m really glad you think I did a good job, but I just feel that the piece needs a bit more ‘oomph’! I’ll re-read it in a few weeks and see how I feel about it then. Cheers! ~ Hazel

  2. This is really good. It’s such an accurate portrait of the dark side of motherhood. I know people aren’t supposed to talk about this, but being a parent of a newborn can be overwhelming, depressing, infuriating, and a host of other negative things (and that’s just from my perspective of being a father. Mothers can have it worse). This story really captures the essence of those feelings that nobody prepares you for. What’s even worse is that you feel guilt for even acknowledging them. Good job.

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my #Fridayflash. I’m grateful for your comments and glad that you feel that I captured the essence of the feelings that can hit new parents. And you’re right – no one prepares you for anything other than worshipping the little pip as soon as you’ve spat it out!! ~ Hazel

  3. Strong piece, and one very close to my heart. One of the reasons I do not want to have children is that I do not want to lose myself. the thought terrifies me. So – heh – thanks for the horror story 🙂

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Thanks for the read and the comment. I didn’t mean it to be a horror story – but I suppose, it is! 🙂 ~ Hazel

  4. This was an excellent story. It makes me wonder how many mothers have to go through this. You may not have meant it as a horror story, but I’m guessing there are many who would read it as such. It was a well done piece!

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Eric, thanks so much for stopping by to read and comment on my story. I’m looking forward to next Friday already, because this #Fridayflash thing is such a great initiative! I’m already wondering what you’re going to follow ‘The Rattle’ with. 🙂 ~ Hazel

  5. Part of me wants to comment as just a reader, but with your short paragraph in the beginning, about this lacking something, I have to comment as an editor:

    You are lacking nothing. You have captured here what someone else said – the dark side of motherhood. Your narrator performs her job perfectly as the storyteller. She tells us so much more than what is actually written. You write things that every mother can identify with, yet you weren’t afraid to go to even further. I loved this. It was so bold and such a luscious read. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Wow! Thank you so much for your comments, Kemari. Coming from a writer of your calibre, they carry much weight. This whole #Fridayflash thing really is good for a gal’s confidence in her abilities. ~ Hazel

  6. Excellent job. I wonder how many women feel like this but are afraid to admit it? So much of this reminds me of my own mother’s plight, only I was a screaming colicky monster! She said she used to throw plates at the wall when she couldn’t bear it anymore & as soon as my dad got home from work she’d shove me into his arms and say, “Take this thing!” and leave the house for some time alone in peace.

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read, and comment on, this piece. I am sorry to hear that your mum went through PND. Colic can’t have been fun for either of you. ~ Hazel

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read, and comment on, this piece. Your poor mum, having to go through PND. Colic can’t have been fun for either of you. 😦
      Hazel

  7. Jennifer says:

    I am so glad this is not you, but I feel terrible for anyone who has ever felt this way! I can’t imagine how awful that would be! 😦
    I think we all have feelings of frustration, failure and hopelessness at times, but if it gets to the point that this character is at (and way before that point, really), then it’s time to find someone to talk to.

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Jennifer, thanks so much for reading and commenting – I really appreciate it. I agree with you, people need to seek help as soon as they start to feel overwhelmed by emotions. Personally, i think everyone should have a therapist and visit regularly! ~ Hazel

  8. I believe these feelings are way more common that we dare to admit – I was lucky and although I identify with feeling a loss of identity etc. I always loved my kids. My sister I fear is not so lucky….

    • Lady Scribbles says:

      Hi Carrie

      I’m sorry to hear that your sister is not having a great time post-birth. Often, when we are depressed or sad, we don’t believe we ‘deserve’ help or even know what help there is to ask. Has your sister connected with the various charities etc. who are around to help? I hope she feels better soon.

      Hazel

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