I lied still in a rare silence. My life has become a chaotic embrace of hair pulling, coddling, and faint echoes of mental screams reverberating in my mind. My body aches in places I didn’t think were possible, and there is no one here to soothe me but my own bitterness. Chad is working late yet again, and I’m sure I’ll barely get see the back of his perfectly coiffed head in the morning. Oddly enough, I can’t remember him being so enthralled by his work before the baby.
Oh, the baby. The monster that has come from within me. I long for the day that I look upon his face and feel something other than sheer regret. I’d never dare speak such malignance in front of other mothers, normal mothers, yet I can’t help but feel like my child is a bottom-feeding moocher who will destroy me for years to come. When he wails and wails, finds himself throwing a tantrum or even begins to feel colicky, I want nothing more than to wrap my hands around his tiny, pale neck and squeeze ever so tightly until he stops breathing. I’d like to say that when I got my very first look at him, I felt happy. I might even like to say that I felt blessed. What I truly felt was hate. I was rabid with annoyance at the fact that he wouldn’t just stop…needing so much. He was sucking the life out of me – not to mention completely obliterating my nipples — and I’m afraid I’ve reached the point where I can only find solace in imagining that he’ll choke to death on his own spit. Perhaps he’ll be diagnosed with cancer and there’ll be nothing we can do. I don’t get lucky in these ways, though. Instead, he gets the flu, diaper rashes, or diarrhea.
When I found out I was pregnant, my feelings were an amalgamation of shock, excitement, and acceptance. Chad and I weren’t even trying, but we were in such a good place that we just chalked it up to being something that would add to our dizzy happiness. We were like two teenagers who’d just discovered the wonders of sex, and needless to say, he was calling out of work multiple times a week. Our days were filled with late mornings, sunshine seeping in through the curtains reminding us that a new day had arrived, prompting more love and exhilaration. We were fun. Our smiles were nearly running off of our sun kissed faces. Every weekend, we’d drive down to the beach and spend countless hours riding waves, making bonfires, and sharing secrets with each other and the star-studded night sky that loomed above. I suppose we really were acting like teenagers because we never once discussed what would happen if we were to procreate. Yet, at the time, we had formed a home beneath the brim of serenity’s hat, and we didn’t think anything could ever cloud our blissful reality.
But then, something did.
Once we got closer and closer to our due date, dread became a third guest in our home while we awaited its replacement. It drew a distance between me and Chad that until now, remains unchanged. We’ve now become grey, better yet charcoal. Our fire is dead and the love has long escaped our grasp. The baby scared it away, it scared everything away. I suppose I, or we, should take some blame, but I refuse to. I tried to abort it, but by the time I realized that bringing life into the world is horrid, I no longer qualified for an abortion. I tried drinking whiskey for three days straight, I drank vinegar, and I even called a friend of mine and got her to let me do a line of coke. Needless to say, I tried everything to make this thing die inside of me, but nothing happened. So, I kept the baby. Be it the error of the decade, I kept the fucking baby. And now, I can barely stand to look at it. The worst part is that I can’t even tell anyone. I know chad hates it too by the way he refuses to relay any form of parental affection or duty onto him, but he’ll never say it. I’ll never say it. The old us probably would, but not this decrepit version of us.
I may loathe this thing that I created, but I’m a decent mother. I don’t neglect it, I feed it, change it, make sure it’s clean, and I even take it to the park to get some fresh air. As I mindlessly push his stroller back and forth in an attempt to create a soothing environment, I sometimes overhear new mothers complaining about they’re lethargy. They discuss their hatred for breastfeeding, saggy skin and stretch marks, but it’s always worth it for their little bundles of shit. Joy, bundles of joy. I even once eavesdropped on one of the mothers who was worrying she might dislike her baby because she let him cry for a few minutes before adhering to his beckoning screams. She explained her post-partum depression symptoms, and then she cried. I almost laughed. I thought to myself if that’s what they considered terrible, I can only imagine what I’d be branded if they discovered the true nature of my motherly ineptitude.
Suddenly, I heard him. I’d been lying there dazed by my own mortification that I forgot the baby actually existed. All the hairs on my body erected themselves. Effortlessly rolling my eyes, I fought the urge to cry. As I sat up lifelessly, I suddenly felt that I resembled a robot. I was on autopilot. I did everything I was supposed to, I played my part, I was seen, but not heard. Yet, I lacked a soul. My once lively, twinkling hazel eyes were now dead and cold. They no longer held the buoyancy Chad was so fond of. They told the world everything there was to know about who I’d become, bringing truth to the expression of eyes being windows to the soul, or lack thereof. I walked to the nursery slowly, dreading each step that brought me closer. I couldn’t remember if he was hungry or if his diaper needed to be changed. Maybe he was just screaming to piss me off. I walked into the room and was immediately ambushed by the vile stench of baby poop. I fought the urge to vomit and walked over to his crib. I looked at him over the railing and watched him writhe around in agony over something he couldn’t tell me was bothering him. He lifted his arms and his little hands reached for me. They reached for a mother who would pick him up and rock him to sleep. He reached for a mother who would kiss his tears and laugh at his frustration, whisper sweet things about him being the best boy in the world as he cooed innocently in the arms of the only person who could love him forever.
I’m not that mother.