It's not getting easier. I have struggled these first 7 weeks with two kids. I have fought with my own thoughts and ended up in the deep side of the proverbial swimming pool, not really sure whether I am treading water or drowning. Even now, as I just put Zoe back to sleep after changing her diaper, I can hear her screaming in the other room "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!". I know that if she doesn't take a nap, the rest of my day will be a nightmare of crying, whining, and screaming because she will be exhausted. I know that it is the right thing to do to leave her in that room until she falls into a fitful sleep after 15 minutes or so of desperate tears, but it doesn't make it any easier when she is yelling my name and literally pounding on the door. I've tried going into the room and lying with her until she calms down--but this only seems to make her more needy and stressed out when I leave.
Being a mother is heart-wrenching on so many levels.
I feel like I am constantly making these decisions between giving into her emotions, wants, and needs and just doing what I think is best for everyone (and, in the midst of all this, 75% of the time I don't even know what is best) --including her.
You know how in college you finally figure out who you are and start to own it? Like really own your identity? Well, if anything has put me back at square one, it is being a mother. I ask existential questions of myself every single day, like "Am I a good person?" "How do I know I am doing the right thing?" or even "Does it even matter that I exist?"
I find myself grappling with these huge emotions like shame and guilt and fear. I often have no idea how I am feeling--which is an anomaly for me. Am I afraid? Am I sad? Am I angry? Am I all of these things at once? I see the selfishness in myself come to light every 5 minutes of my day. The moments where I just want to zone out and leave all of this behind.
Then there are even worse moments. Times where I have seen the fear and anxiety magnified into my own little girl's face. This happened yesterday when I was in the car. I find it particularly hard to drive anywhere with them because Kaiden often cries non-stop in the car. He doesn't seem to like being in the car seat at all. After about 25 minutes of screaming (or even after 15 minutes) I often hit a point of wild, desperate sadness. I feel completely helpless. I feel pointless. I feel like my very existence, my very goodness, is being questioned. Sometimes I feel like I am experiencing a small form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when he starts screaming, like every other time he has screamed is flashing before my eyes and these huge neon letters: " You're just a crappy mom" emblazon the walls of my heart.
So yesterday, when we were driving in the car to pick up my husband, Kaiden started to cry his heart-wrenching, I -am-hurting-and-you-aren't-fixing-it cry again. Just as he had begun to do this, I looked in the rearview mirror to see Zoe turn to Kaiden and yell with her eyebrows narrowed and a terrified look on her face "Kaiden! Stop. Kaiden. STOP CRYING NOW!!NOW!!" She was shaking her head back and forth crazily and I could see her eyes widen until they were all white with tiny blue irises. She looked so... afraid. And then it hit me. That is what I look like.
That is what I have been yelling at Kaiden on the way to pick up Chris every single day, when I am trying to navigate on-coming traffic while jamming a pacifier into Kaiden's mouth and I almost swerve off the road.
That is how I look when I am trying to get Kaiden into a carseat at the YMCA, and I am bent over behind the open door of the car, and a minivan swings out across the lot to almost hit me and my two kids in all of our helplessness, my hand clutching Zoe's.
That is how I look when Zoe melts down in the middle of church at my womens' bible study and I try to grab her hand to get her up off the floor and she hits her head against the ground, hard, and I am so, so angry at her for not cooperating, but really, I am scared.
Because this is the scariest, hardest thing I have ever done. Because I am terrified. Because the stakes are higher than they have ever been.
It comes out in this wild anger that I have to hold inside of me and my fists are clenched and I feel like I am in the biggest knock-down-drag-it-out fight, but I am so so unprepared.
And in the midst of all of this,there is the guilt and shame of wishing I could give up. Wishing that there was a way out. And of course, there is the resentment against Chris and God and the convincing evidence that someone, anyone, could be doing this better than me.
When Chris gets into the car and asks how my day is and I tell him, he says that I wouldn't have this problem with Zoe throwing herself on the floor if I just got down on her level and explained things to her face-to-face. She listens to him when he does this. I nod, but secretly I feel numb. I have spent myself until there is just a shell of myself left and there is nothing him or anyone else can do to fix it.
I am torn.
Change a diaper, crying, screaming, exhaustion, change a diaper, feed someone.
I wish I could give some uplifting note of cheeriness at the end of this, but the problem is, I'm just not in that place right now.
I have memorized all of the empty phrases that are supposed to get me through: it get's easier. It goes so fast. You'll miss this time, eventually.
I have read all of the uplifting blogs about how we are all so hard on ourselves. How every type of motherhood (one kid, two kids, sick kids, boys and girls) is hard. That we all need grace and mercy as we walk this road. But this is what I am living now. And this is who Briana is, right now. I am fishing for a better version of myself, the person that I know might be in there--the person that keeps going in the toughest moments.
Maybe inside there is also a person I've never met, one who possesses those qualities that I went into motherhood totally lacking---a girl who is patient and kind, who sacrifices for others, who doesn't always have to be first in line, and is willing to give up some dreams.
Maybe, eventually, I can come to terms with this humbling version of myself I see everyday and grow to like her, even love her enough to be gentle to her and acknowledge her fear and stop beating her when she is down.
Maybe I can realize that this fear and sadness can be brought to a heavenly throne room and tossed onto the floor in all of its debilitating mess. I have no idea what to do with it otherwise.