This Saturday I expereienced what most people woud consider a normal day with the family. A long one, a throughly enjoyable one. Not something I can usually get through. My anxiety most often ends up taking over and after struggling to decide to go or not to go I watch the door close behind my husband and kids while they venture out.
As they drive away I feel guilt for not being a good mother; for not being a good wife and for leaving my husband with the brunt of the parental duties. For not making myself an integral part of their fun childhood memories.
I am fortunate, I have a husband that is excellent in the role of Father and Husband. He works full time and when he comes home he has another full-time job taking care of us. Sad but true, I require more care than, in my opinion, a wife should. I need help when I am having a tough time. I need help coming up with meal ideas and getting started. I need help getting laundry and dishes going. I need help with Z's math and T's boundless energy. Getting out of bed. Getting through a long week, and even a long weekend. I need help, and I HATE it! I feel weak and pathetic and I feel that the kids and husband would be better off without me. He insists that is not true.
There are days when I am functional, hell there were years when I was functional. It all kicked off again when I became pregnant with my son in 2009 and I have not been mentally well since. They warned me in 2000 when I became pregnant with my daughter that I had a very high probability of getting post-partum depression with her. I knew, that is why I was so fearful of ever having children. I was so fortunate with my daughter, I had a few down days and that was it. I thought surely I lucked out!
Z was a surprise and one of the best I ever got. T was planned. We did not want Z to be an only child, and after seven years of putting it off we decided it was now or never. We lost one child to ectopic pregnancy and I had to go into surgery to have the baby and the fallopian tube removed. The docs told me I may not be able to get pregnant again. I was pregnant the first try after the surgery. This boy was a force from his very inception!
I knew we were tempting fate because of our good fortune with Z and the fact that she was an amazing baby. As well, how lucky could we get? I was always very conscious of how lucky we were and made it a point of being incredibly grateful for our good graces.
I started becoming depressed early in my pregnancy with T and it kept up. After his quite dramatic birth in my car I hoped the depression would leave now that we had this beautiful baby boy. He was colicy and had an immature digestive system. If he wasn't nursing he was crying. He was not a happy baby, and I was not a happy Mama. I felt like such a failure. And Z didn't really enjoy her new brother because he wasn't any fun and his crying hurt her very sensitive ears. It was a very tough first year. As a matter of fact it was Dr. recommended that he start going to daycare, for both of our sakes. It was the best recommendation, although it definitely further instilled my sense of failure. I spent many days in bed crying. I ended up in the hospital several times and couldn't for the life of me believe that I tempted fate like this. I brought it on myself. I was angry at my husband for not agreeeing to adoption. For wanting another child with our genes. I told him the chance we were taking, and part of me blammed him for not taking me more seriously.
So, I was laid off, depressed, a Mom of two who could not even take care of herself. My sister-in-law stepped up, she was laid off, so when I went into the hospital she stayed with my family and took care of them. She cooked beautiuful and delicious meals. She cleaned and organized the house. Painted my basement. Sang and danced with my children. Did arts and crafts with them and brought a sense of joy and "normalcy" to this house that so needed it. She helped my husband by freeing him up to work and not worry about the kids. He came home to homework done, homecooked meals and a glass of wine; a clean house and happy, healthy, clean kids.
She did this for two of my hospitalizations, (maybe three) and each time stayed a little longer to make sure I was settled in and acclimated to being home. Each time she left I cried like a baby knowing I was losing our rock. Knowing I couldn'y possibly live up to Auntie B's legacy. And I missed her company. Her energy. Her zest for life and functional vibe. Her ability to just get things done and not dwell. To problemsolve and especially her ability to be present and alive. Fully alive and completely enjoy life in the now. Now my family was left with me. What a rip off for them!
The last time she stayed with us I had to let her go before I was ready, my dying Mother needed someone to stay with her. B was the one for the job. The best caretaker anyone would be fortunate enough to have in their home. She treated my Mother like a Queeen and I know it was right that she was with her. It was more than right, it was such a beautiful gift for my mother. The way everyone's mother should be treated in her dying weeks.
My brother died in October, an my Mother passed in December. The day after Mom's funeral my brother and sister-in-law packed their little car and headed to the farm in Pennsylvania. They would eventually end up moving to South Carolina. I have not physically seen her since December 2012. I feel like when I lost my Mom I lost my sister-in-law in a way as well. I lost two pillars in my life.
I have struggled through the past few years, avoiding the hospital and trying alternative therapies to get well.
The winters are brutal, the anniversaries are painful and the mothering and wifely functionality are still incredibly difficult.
So, when I have a 12 hour day spent out of my house, at the Mountain, skiing and laughing with my family and friends, watching my children riding in the box sled we made and decorated together as a family with huge smiles on their faces, the sun shining down on us, I am so grateful for it. Feeling so blessed to have been able to expereince a day of normalcy, a beautiful, simple, a much needed gift!