Fumbling on the Ocean Floor: A Rant About My Struggle with Motherhood


Note: This is just what the title says, a rant. An expression of emotions I’m currently feeling at this exact moment, a release of what I need to say so I can get it off my chest, out of my brain, & get on with the rest of my day & my attempts to just keep swimming, swimming, swimming through this thing called LIFE, particularly motherhood. It will ramble…it might be long….it probably won’t transition well or be a cohesive body of writing. But rants aren’t supposed to be are they? Hear me: I love my kids, I just desperately want to love being a mother again. I just desperately want to understand myself & what they need from me again. This. is. just. that. A RANT.

If Motherhood is a vast, expansive ocean, I’m drowning in it. Better yet, you know that dark, pitch black, murky, where-the-creepy-looking-creatures-live part of it waaaaaaay down at the bottom? What is that called, the ocean floor? Yea, that. That’s where I am, where I’ve been the past 15 months since Alex was born & close to 24 if you include pregnancy. I’ve been down there, floundering around, searching for some semblance of life I recognize, trying to get back the surface of who I am, the mother I was on my way to being, back to the place where I could tread water because being in this ocean was something I could handle. It was rough, especially being a single parent struggling to get back on my feet, but

I

could

handle

it.

I was getting through it, with God’s help & support from family & friends.

But now? I’m at the bottom, unable to get to the surface because I have a rope tied around my neck &  it’s  weighed down….with anxiety. with frustration. with anger. with perplexity. with desperation.

Motherhood and I, for reasons I’m still trying to figure out have been going at it, round for round for the past year, year & a half. Maybe it’s because I’ve been riding the roller coaster of depression & anxiety-loops through the tracks of PPD included. Perhaps it’s due to the growing pains I’ve been enduring in an attempt to shed some tangles from my past/childhood & tangled relationships with my parents. It could be because of the spiritual growing pains I’ve been experiencing the past 24 months, and it could even be because I’ve just had SO MANY life altering changes happening in my life. It could be all of those things added together, but for whatever the reasons are, I don’t like the mother I’ve become.

I hate her. Passionately. I’m pretty sure my kids don’t like her either. She yells. She doesn’t have enough patience. She’s not fun. She doesn’t play. She has a hard time sitting still, being present, enjoying life moment by moment. She’s angry sometimes. She’s tired most of the time. Her thoughts race, which makes it hard for her to concentrate-especially when her 4 year old is asking her for cookies for the 50th time in the last 20 minutes while she’s attempting to figure out what’s wrong with her 15mo who’s thrown themselves on the floor and crying in frustration for a reason that’s totally lost on her. Yes, that mother? I can’t stand her. I can’t stand me.  Not today. Not at this moment.

I love my kids. I want to be a good mother to them. But I DON’T UNDERSTAND THEM or MYSELF today. Or this week. Or the past year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m great at making sure they have what they need physically or materially-that crap is easy. Or at least it comes naturally for me. It’s the stuff underneath it all, the emotional development & nurturing essentials, the stuff that will keep my kids from needing therapy when they’re 28 that I’ve been sucking at. Failing at. Floundering at. Flubbing. Fumbling over like my hands are doped with Novocaine. I just haven’t been able to get a solid grip on this thing.

Since the day Alex was born I’ve struggled even more with this, this motherhood thing. His father always says that Alex is the type of kid who will remind us that we’re alive. It’s so true. He’s so completely different than Brennan was as a baby/toddler.  Calm? Quiet? Still? None of those describe my feisty youngest. Bold. Loud. Emotional. Aggressive. Needy. Those do. He seems to be what those “parenting experts” call….Spirited. But even that is putting it mildly. Beautiful kid, and funny in his own way. Sweet in his own way. A complex myriad of emotions & characteristics that seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum from each other. Fierce independence but needy would be an example. Coming to you for comfort but pushing you away when you try to give it is another. What was that line in Shrek about ogres having layers like onions? (or was it artichokes? *shrugs* whatever, I’m sure you get my point) Yea….that’s Alex alllll day. (not the ogre part, the onions/layers part. Not to brag, but my Alex is adorably cute) Full of layers I’ve been trying to understand & have been left scratching my head over in bewilderment. See, I understand & see these things about him, but I don’t know how to mother him. I don’t know to meet his needs or even understand them most of the time. I just don’t. I don’t know what he needs from one moment to the next. Honestly, I never have. I’ve been spending the past 15mos guessing. Some of those guesses I’ve lucked out & have been right. Others, mmmm not so much. And I’ve been trying to keep up the “Mama knows best/what the heck she’s doing” face, but I’m not good at that either anymore. This Mama is unraveling while fumbling in the dark for a light switch, or like Velma looking for her glasses, exclaiming “Jenkies” in frustration. Alex was my second child, but it feels like he is my first & I’m back in Parenting 101, only I’m failing the class. And failing him….

And when it comes to my oldest, Brennan, well, I’m failing him too. I can see it in his eyes when he looks at me. I know that he sees & feels the change in me over the past year or so. I know from being a kid with a dad who married six times & was abusive that kids aren’t stupid, there ain’t alot you can hide from them & they always understand things that are far beyond their alleged young-minded comprehension. He can see that I’m less patient, less calm, less fun, less talkative, withdrawn sometimes. Tired. He’s seen me cry. Too much. Come to think of it, I know when the change started-potty training. I was doing everything I could, taking everyone’s advice, trying every which way to get him to understand that he needed to use the restroom & everything was failing. Nothing worked. NOTHING. And that’s when my struggle with motherhood started settling in deep. That’s when the frustration & floundering started dipping me below the surface. That’s when the tears really started flowing.

That’s how I feel now, today. I feel like I’ve been trying everything I can to be a better mama and I’m still just lost in the dark. Running out of oxygen in my tank fast & I don’t know how to get back to the surface where light, clarity, understanding & enjoyment is. I hate it down here, in this dark, abysmal place where all you’re surrounded with is thoughts that you’re a failure & doing irreparable damage to your children. And yourself. And your relationship. Failure is just eating away at me, feeding off of me like plankton, it’s disgusting down here. I want out. I want out!

Last night I was looking at pictures of Alex when he was a baby. I was remembering how much I wanted to him to know how much I loved & wanted him, but how heartbroken I was over my seemingly inability to bring comfort to him. It seemed like no matter what I did he just wouldn’t stop crying. My attempts to meet his needs didn’t seem to ease his emotions. And hearing it would make me anxious because I just felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, like I didn’t know how to take care of him.

And while thinking about that I remembered how when I was a little girl I wanted to have a big family, full of kids. While it may not have happened how I envisioned, being a mother was something I always wanted. I guess that’s one reason why I’m so frustrated-right now it just feels like I’m so ill-equipped to handle what I asked for.

God….I could use some light down here, please. (sigh)

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2 thoughts on “Fumbling on the Ocean Floor: A Rant About My Struggle with Motherhood

  1. So many moms fumble their way through motherhood at least some of the time. You’re not alone. I barely know you but I can tell you love your boys & you’re doing a better job than you think. Hugs!

    • i took so long to respond to this because every time I tried, I’d start crying LOL. Thank you for the encouragement-your words moved me deeply 🙂

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