The Unbearable Weightiness of Motherhood

One of the most difficult things about postpartum – or maybe it’s just motherhood in general (I usually need a trained professional to help me tell the difference) – is that you are simultaneously overly concerned about the health and welfare of your child while experiencing a kind of emotional distance that causes you to misattribute that concern to personal failure – or some other dysfunction that is innately yours. This is a hard one to describe so I will try to illustrate.

In a clothing store at a large shopping centre yesterday, Aya escaped my sight for those two seconds longer than my panic button could take. As every parent knows, this feels like roughly a zillion light years. What goes through your mind in those seconds and or, god forbid, minutes, is a cataclysmic shitstorm of awful to put it lightly. This brought about intense emotion that I didn’t have time to process due to the full speed running The Noodle was doing (at one point she was literally running in circles around me in the food court) ALL DAY YESTERDAY.

It is on occasions such as this, when things are hard and when they don’t go quite right – or when they go drastically wrong – I turn in on myself and catastrophize pretty intensely. It is during these times that the weight of the responsibility of being a mother almost crushes me. A normally chatty person, I withdraw, become quiet, retreat from the world. I begin to think about the unfolded laundry, the last time the bathrooms were cleaned (which escapes recent memory), and worst of all, I think that life will always be life this. How do I know? This is the first time I’ve had a kid. Maybe they never grow up. Maybe they never go to school. Maybe they always need you SO MUCH.

Frankly, it scares the shit out of me. I get bleary-eyed and narrow-focused. I can’t see the future in this way that I am sure that it doesn’t exist. I get breathless and limp. I curl up and know that it will pass even though I intermittently doubt it.

I am undoubtedly better today. The Noodle runs around wearing her snowman toque with her pajamas and mismatched running shoes on the wrong feet. I am firmly rooted in motherhood again. I feel shakily strong.

Logically I know the time will fly – it already has. But as every mother knows, in the moments of meltdown and terror, motherhood feels eternal in this way that is sometimes too much weight to bear.

When I reflect on my 20-something self who thought motherhood was some kind of “easy way out” of the endless ambition and striving I was locked in for most of my 20s and 30s, I scoff and think, she ain’t seen nothing yet.