The other side of motherhood.

I feel like people don’t talk about the dark side of parenting. They talk about the good stuff. First smile, first laugh, first steps, first word. They talk about the immense love they felt when their child was placed into their arms. Sure, they may loathe the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the constant nagging, but overall, I feel like most people say the good outweighs the bad.

But what about those of us who are on the other side of motherhood? The “I hate everything about this” side. The “I wanted this so bad, but as it turns out, I don’t like it very much at all” side. The side where the good doesn’t outweigh the bad. What do you do then? If you know, I’d like to know the secret.

Because that’s where I am. That’s where I’ve been for quite a while. Whether you want to call it mommy blues or postpartum depression, it’s where I’ve lived for a while. But you see, it’s not just a room I’m renting, but a house I own. I’m not simply living out of a suitcase. I’ve unpacked. There are used plates on the kitchen counter, laundry littered across the bedroom floor, and empty pizza boxes in the trash.

I have a 2 and a half year old, and I’ve been in this place for quite some time. Honestly, the fact that it took me this long to start writing about how I’ve been feeling surprises me. Most people who know me know that I gravitate toward writing like oxygen, but over the last few years, my career and motherhood have taken priority. For good reason. However, I also feel like I’ve neglected a form of self care I used to use on a regular basis. Writing is very cathartic for me. It’s always been that way. It’s always be where I turn when I can’t make sense of my thoughts and feelings.

So here I am. In the trenches. Wading through the shit. And trying like hell to figure out how to keep my head above water. Not so I can bitch and moan. But simply to say, “This is my truth.”

What I know is I’m in a really hard place in my life right now, but I want to feel better. I want the people I love to know the me I used to be….not the depressed shell of myself I’ve been over the last few years. I want to be better, for myself but also for my son. He deserves so much more than what I’ve been able to give him over the last 2 and a half years.

I imagine many, many other parents have been in this place. And maybe that’s why I’m writing this. To find connection. To build community. To try and feel a little less alone.

Not the reality I envisioned

For years, I wanted nothing more than to be a mom. I wanted the little pink clothes (even though I hate the color pink). I wanted the cuddles, the snuggles, and the intoxicating baby smell. I wanted more than to just be a mom though. I wanted specifically to be a mom to a baby girl.

See, I was supposed to be a twin, but my twin was lost very, very early in my mom’s pregnancy. So early in fact that it couldn’t be determined whether my twin was a boy or girl. In my mind, though, I always had a twin sister.

When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted nothing more than to have a baby girl. I wanted the chance to meet, love, and be with the twin I lost. I knew my baby wouldn’t be my twin sister. I knew science didn’t work that way.

But as these things go, I hoped. I hoped for a carbon copy of not myself but someone who could have been my twin. Someone with my laugh, my personality, and my fierce need for independence. Someone very, very much like me, but not identical. Maybe she’d be extroverted to my introverted nature. Maybe she’d love pink to my love of the color purple. Maybe she’d stray towards Barbies and all things glitter when I wanted nothing more than to play with baby dolls. But, maybe….just maybe….we’d be alike in some ways too. Maybe we’d both love to read and gravitate towards books like oxygen. Maybe we’d both have a laugh that had the power to light up a room. Maybe her eyes would crinkle when she smiled really big. Maybe she’d have the cutest nose freckles you’ve ever seen. Maybe she’d be the shadow I so badly wanted.

But the Universe had other plans. You guessed it. I had a boy. But not just any boy. I had a boy that is a carbon copy of my wife. They look alike. They act alike. And they both have autism.

Because of autism, they have a connection I’ll never fully understand. And I’m glad they have that bond. I really am. But sometimes, I feel like they’re part of a club I didn’t get an invite to. I feel like they know the secret handshake that I’m not privy too.

And it guts me.

I’ve been struggling to connect with my son in my own way. Most days, it doesn’t happen. But sometimes, there are glimpses. Teeny, tiny glimpses. Ever so slowly, over the past week, that connection has made itself known. We’ve implemented reading books before bedtime. My son may only be focused on turning the pages at this point and may struggle to sit still, but it’s a start. It’s something. It’s not the beginning of the reality I envisioned, but it’s my reality nonetheless.