A “Morally Exhausted” Navel-Gazer
By: Sheana Ochoa
I’m writing under duress because my son is crying as my fiancé puts antibiotic drops in his ears. Once they’re done, he will come to mommy and I will have to stop writing because he is going to want me to rock him or play hide and seek or get him something to drink. So, here he is and well, I didn’t guess correctly: He wants to read a book. I’ll be back shortly . . .
When I awoke yesterday morning, I felt resentment towards my son, this baby I chose to have on my own to love and nurture and rear to be a well-adjusted, thoughtful human being. The feeling was new. I’d never felt resentment towards him, not when he woke me every two hours to nurse in the beginning, not when he whacks me in the face, not even after the time he embarrassed me in the grocery store screaming because I didn’t give him the cookies he wanted. Those things are part of being a good, patient mother.
What I resented yesterday was opening an email from a good friend to discover she wouldn’t be attending my wedding because her mother has an operation scheduled in May and she will have to take care of her and that was as far as I read before Noah began screaming at me because I was reading an email instead of watching Jurassic Park with him. What I resented was that one of my other best girlfriends returned from Germany last weekend. I haven’t seen her in five years or met her two sons and I haven’t had a minute to even talk to her on the phone. What I resent is that I have this blog due tomorrow morning and I don’t like doing things last-minute (which, as you can see I’m writing now and everything’s okay). What I resent is I have a good friend from Japan and I haven’t had a chance to call him and see if his family back home is all right. What I resent is that my eyebrows aren’t plucked, my hair is dirty, the house is a clutter. I resent that I’m writing this without my glasses and my eyes are burning because I’m afraid if I stand up and look for them, my son will notice me and realize I’m not paying attention to him.
This, like every feeling, will pass. But, while I’m feeling it, I’m not going to beat myself up. In desperation yesterday morning, I called a mentor of mine to confess how self-centered I was being and how it was wreaking havoc on my state of mind. She told me it wasn’t my job to write a blog or clean the house. My job, she told me, was to be the best mother I could be today. That made me feel better. For about an hour.
Another strange phenomenon I’m noticing in addition to the self-centeredness: blame. I remember when I was in prenatal yoga class with several other moms-to-be who all had significant others except me. I remember how happy I was throughout my pregnancy even when I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep or when I couldn’t stand up straight the last month because of Braxton Hicks contractions. (Ironically, I was just interrupted, not by my two year old, but by my fiancé who needed me to get an itch on his back real quick, which of course called attention to my presence and the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to my son and now he’s whining.) Where was I? My point is we all, my fellow yoga mamas and I, had things to complain about –from swollen ankles to sleep deprivation –and what I noticed is these women took it out on their partners. Why didn’t they help around the house more, massage their feet, make dinner once in a while? And I, having no one to blame, reveled in the good and the bad of the miracle of life growing inside of me.
Now that I have a significant other, I noticed these past two days that not only was I resentful towards my son, I was angry at my fiancé. Why? Because I was, as he said this morning when we woke up, “morally exhausted.” That got a much needed laugh out of me and put me in my place. I don’t know why we take things out on the ones we love, but here I have been extremely intolerant, probably even a wee bit irrational with my poor husband-to-be when the problem is me. I just haven’t been accepting that my un-met agenda is not important enough to ruin my day, or anyone else’s.
Here’s my angel, all three feet of him, staring at me with that puppy-dog plea, actually waiting for me to address him instead of hitting my leg and shouting “Mama!” which is the usual protocol for gaining my attention from the computer. And so I have to go. It isn’t the best way to end a blog, but I have to go.