I had the “dark-and-twistys” this week. The term is pulled from old-school Grey’s Anatomy episodes, before Meredith Grey became bright-and-shiny Meredith around season six. Before season six and her post-it marriage to McDreamy, Meredith and Christina would often visit the Dark Place for a few days, and they always understood exactly what that meant.
Meredith: “Are you in the Dark Place?”
Meredith: “OK.” (exhibits understanding face and walks away….)
There is a special wing of the Dark Place specially reserved for new mothers. For mothers who have children that cry, who can’t be soothed, who don’t have the answers, who have husbands away on business, and who want to throw in the towel and download adoption papers.
That was me this week while Per was gone for two days. Two days – that’s all it took for me to descend from relative normality to the dark-and-twistys. For whatever reason, Per Christian decided to take this opportunity to cry, scream and refuse all previously-standard forms of comfort. He screamed for his pacifier and then spit it out, he hated his walks in the stroller but wasn’t happy inside, he was hot, he was cold, he wanted to be held but wanted to be put down, he was overtired but wouldn’t sleep…
After 24 hours of this, the kid nearly got left in the park with a “Will Work for Food” sign on his stroller.
These are the days when I miss my former life. I know mothers are supposed to be all exuberant over their adorable miracles in a sleep-deprived-martyrish kind of way, but honestly I really do miss my old self.
There – I said it. I may be the only one to voice it out loud, but I bet you’re all nodding your heads and thinking, “yep, me too….”
I see Per leaving for work every day and wish it were me. I hear parties on the street at 3am and wish I were there. I see fabulous clothes in the stores and get frustrated that nothing fits my new body. This little “miracle” has taken everything away – my body, my work, my sanity, my life. And yes, sometimes from the depths of the Dark Place I wish I could take it all back, rewind the tape and not be a Mother anymore.
Everyone tells you that it will pass, but that’s equally frustrating to hear. It somehow invalidates what I’m feeling at that moment. Like the feelings don’t matter because they won’t stick around anyway. I know people are trying to be helpful, but really a knowing nod and understanding face would suit me much better.
Other people offer to help. That also doesn’t work because it just makes me more frustrated that this formerly strong, confident, self-assured version of myself can’t hack it. And I’m reminded that this little six kilo meatloaf has managed to shred every bit of self-confidence I spent 35 years building.
I won’t subscribe to the cliché and say that it’s all worth it when he smiles, because that’s not always the case. You can keep your smile, thank you very much. I’d rather have a martini. But the truth is, the dark-and-twistys really do pass. You have good days and bad days. That’s the theme of this entire blog – some days are shitty diaper days, other days are bubbly champagne days.
Today was a great day, maybe one of the best on record. It’s as if Per Christian knew that he nearly got sold to the traveling circus and was trying to convince me not to go through with the paperwork. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and I don’t still miss my former life. But it does mean that I can wake up, take a deep breath and try again.
I promise we’ll return to our regular programming on the next post with more mouth-watering baby photos that will make your uterus scream. (sorry gents….)