The Other Mother

on December 6, 2012

Someone on facebook linked to this blog post today and as I was reading it, I both totally understood and had feelings about it I couldn’t quite sort out.

In case you didn’t want to go read it the gist is that when you have a special needs child, you mourn not just the child that could have been, but the mother you could have/expected to be.  And I totally get it, because … yes.

You see, I was going to be that MOM.  Who takes her baby out on walks in the stroller.  Goes to story time at the library.  Mommy-and-me classes.  We’d get the grocery shopping done, and all the errands, and the house would still be clean.  We’d do crafts, and it’d potty train right at 2.5 years old, just in time for the next baby to come along and everything would be lovely.

Uh-huh.  Riiiight.

Then came twins.  You know how many times we went on a stroller walk?  Twice.  Once with help.  Library?  Never.  Mommy-and-me classes was a no (one mommy, two babies).  Grocery shopping?  Nope, not until they were 3.5 and I was on bedrest so their dad took them.  House clean?  HA.  Errands?  Nope.  We’ve gone to Target alone like 3 times in 5 years.  We’re only now starting to do crafts.  They’re finally potty trained only in the past couple of months.

It wasn’t special needs that stole the mommy I was going to be, precisely.  The moment there were two heartbeats, I knew it was gone.  I just didn’t know how profoundly gone it was – I thought we’d still do SOME of it!  But no.  We didn’t.

Because I got the double whammy of special needs on top.  And it just took so much LONGER to do everything.  The end of one feeding signalled the start of the next.   There was vomit everywhere, all the time.  Endless mounds of laundry that was so coated it would mold and mildew if we let it sit out at all.   And I just … didn’t …. get to do any of it.

And it’s so STRANGE now to have a 100% normal baby.  He’s just …. he’s perfect.  He’s maybe ahead of the curve even.  and it’s just … it’s weird.   And it hurts in it’s own ways.  It fucking HURTS to be putting him in the pants I just put away from D last spring, knowing by winter’s end they’ll be in the same size.   The first time around you only “know” what you’re missing.  This time I KNOW what I MISSED.

And in some ways I know this is “better” … I’m a different better person than I would have been.

But some days it makes me wish the other two didn’t exist, that this was my first.  Because I COULD have been that mom.  The other one.  Who didn’t yell and cry all the time.  Who didn’t obsess over every bite everyone took.  Who was relaxed.  And … that’s a shitty person to be, wishing that you could go back and do it over and make two of your kids not EXIST because you just want THIS ONE who’s so fucking normal it’s disgusting.

I don’t really MOURN the other mother so much as HATE HER.  Hate her for not BEING.  For making me look and feel like LESS because I couldn’t do it all in spite of it all.  Hate her for being there behind me reminding me of all that we didn’t get to do.  Hate how I see her in all those other mothers, knowing they can’t see her in me.

And I mean, this time, now, we’re able to do MOST of it.  No, I don’t do the grocery shopping or run errands.  It’s just not … sane, because now there are 3 and none of them are old enough really to not be TROUBLE.  But we go OUT.  They’re in a class.  We do crafts and have dance parties and sing silly songs.  The house is clean.

But I’m still not her.  I never will be her.  Because all that other stuff happened and changed me, the core of me.   But she’s still the, the other mother, the could-have-been.  And on hard days, she comes out and sits there, haunting, taunting.

And I mean it’s ok.  I’m this whole other person now.  Maybe it’s the person I was meant to be, truly.  Maybe I was never supposed to be her.  And someday I’ll get over that, like I’ve gotten over other things I wanted but wasn’t cut out for.

The hard season is almost over.  Just a few more weeks.  And then she can go back in her cave I hope and leave me alone to be me.  Not perfect, but … me.

6 responses to “The Other Mother

  1. Mina says:

    It is so fucking easy to be that other mother, anyone can be that annoying, perfect, Stepford mother. YOU, on the other hand, you are unique. I admit that I have no idea what it is to be you, except from what you write here. But you are an inspiration to me. When things get a bit tougher for me, I think of you and how you have twins and a toddler and dreadful medical appointments and how you stayed in the hospital with your child and how THAT must have been and so on, and you keep it together because you have to, there is no other option but for you to keep it together. And I am ashamed of my puny hissy fit tantrum because the toddler whinges and the baby cries and I didn’t get enough sleep. You are my perspective.
    Nobody wants to be in your shoes, but everyone is awed by your power. Yes, it would have been easier for you NOT to have all this on your plate. But you deal with all of it very graceful and elegantly. You don’t know what hand you are dealt unless you pick up the cards and start the game. And to keep in within the playing cards theme, you, my dear, are acing it.

  2. KeAnne says:

    This was such an honest, profound post. It’s not the same situation, but every day I’m haunted by the mother I thought I’d be and how superior she is to the mother I am.

  3. traathy says:

    I think from my recent post you can tell I am just NOT that mother. I never in a million years would have thought I’d be feeling the way I do and it just is.

    You – you have had a million and one reasons to be frustrated and yet you DO cool stuff with your kids every day. You are a fantastic mother.

  4. sangela71 says:

    I can relate. Because I, too, had twins, I am not the mother to them that I thought I’d be. It’s just not possible to be that same mother to two infants at the same time. (If it’s even possible to be that mother at all.) Throw a child’s special needs into the mix, and the blueprint you thought you’d follow goes out the window.

    I so admire the way you continue to deal with all the hard stuff and still make things fun for your kids at the same time. You may not be the mom you thought you’d be, but I can tell that you are a very good mom nonetheless.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for your honesty- I haven’t read the article yet (am going to in a minute) but I’ve talked to my counselor a lot about this topic. And I struggle with it- because my whole life, all I’ve wanted to be was a mom, THAT mom. And if my next baby is typical, I will be so excited, but yes, it will be strange. Very strange.

  6. dspence says:

    Regret, remorse, wishing things had worked out differently… Such hard things to carry. But what I hear most in your post is honesty and strength. I hope the hard season passes quickly for you.

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