I don’t know if it’s the cumulative sleep deprivation finally catching up to me, or something more, but I feel terrible. My head is pounding, my legs are rubbery, my neck is sore. And I can’t help feeling like I’m a terrible mother, a bad medical student, and a neglectful wife. How do women do it? I’ve heard the whole “every mother is a working mother” and I have no disrepect for stay-at-home moms, but seriously, they get to see their kids all day, every day. They are actually home and awake for more than three hours a day. Meanwhile, I’m frantically trying to keep the dirty dishes from literally spilling out of the sink onto the counter, I have one pair of clean underwear and no clean shirts, and I haven’t opened a piece of mail in months.
The images of motherhood we all have are so pure and unselfish, I imagined my love for my son would be a balm for the stress which I knew was coming. And I love my son more than I thought was possible, truly. Right now, however, I am exhausted, drained (literally, he’s been nursing every hour), and wondering “what the hell was I thinking?”. Is it only moms that feel this way? My husband is working three jobs right now, I feel guilty asking him for help since he’s already overcommitted. My mom is a fifteen hour car ride away, my best friends aren’t nearby. Only one of my classmates has a child, and she and I aren’t especially close. My babysitter has a 13 month old daughter, but the “I’ve been there and done that” attitude doesn’t really help me. I want my mom to be here to cuddle my son while I sleep for a while, and then cuddle me. And I want to wake up and discover that someone has invented self-cleaning clothing and carpets and has decided to make these things available free of charge as a public service. Winning the lottery might also be nice.
I wish I was one of those women who seems to function so smoothly her clothes don’t even wrinkle. But those women have nights like this too, right? This has to be a universal mother-thought, this desperate balancing-act between wanting so much to sleep all night long just once, and waking up every two hours to stare at his chest making sure he’s still breathing.
I’m still breathing. For now that has to be enough.