Bad Mama

The right thing to say
May 14, 2008, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Bad Mama: Peanut, it’s time to turn out your light.

Peanut: (whine, grump, whinge)

Bad Mama: I know, I’m a horrible, mean mom.

Peanut: Yeah. But you’re still pretty cuddly.

May 13, 2008, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Parenting | Tags:

When you get the flu, the idea of  Nyquil’s blessed relief is enough to propel most people off the couch and to the drugstore to get a bottle of nasty green heaven. If you are really, really miserable, you call someone else to get it for you and don’t think twice about it or feel particularly guilty.

Depression is different.

At least it is for me. The sicker I get, the harder it is to so much as pick up the phone. Because first I have find my wallet with my insurance card, hoping it is still there and that I hadn’t taken it out for some reason and forgot to put it back in. Then I have to call the number for “mental health services” and wade through a voice tree to get someone who tells me that there are no covered doctors in town, oh wait, let me put you on hold and meanwhile the baby wakes up again and starts squealing so loud you have to ask them to repeat everything they say when they do come back on the line and they sound annoyed when they ask, “How close are you to Milwaukee?” and I say, oh, 90 miles or so, we have four hospitals in this city isn’t there anybody at all I can see? Of course the answer is no so I have to call random people to see if they will please, please accept my insurance’s rate of pay because I am no longer working because I cannot face the idea of leaving my house most days and therefore money is tight. It is just too exhausting to think about. And really, what’s the point when it isn’t as if I have even been checking the bank balance, it’s not like I’ll be paying that bill anyway.

I know I could just call my regular doctor but I have never had a good experience with a non-psychiatrist prescribing new medications for me and somehow I can’t get past that and just take something for the time being because that wouldn’t be the Right Way To Do Things, and if I can’t do things perfectly then I’ll hide in my house until I can.

And when I finally find someone who can work with me I have to shower and find clean-ish clothes and make sure that the baby is fed and changed and that Peanut is fed and clean and dressed in reasonably clean clothes and get them out of the house together on time, or I have to arrange for someone else to be here to take care of them for me. And it doesn’t work half the time and I end up getting Peanut to school late and having to bring the baby with me to the appointment and try to keep her from disrupting the other sessions when she fusses and distracting me when I have the attention span of a gnat as it is and bounce from thought to thought like a speeded up game of Pong.  And she looks at me when I explain that I have a great support system, as if to say “what a whiner” and I know that is my imagination but I can’t help it and I want to stop and say forget it, you’re right, I’m just whining. I have tons of family help and a husband who adores me and doesn’t get mad when the house is a mess when he’s been gone all week. Why am I here? And hey, my baby is great, right?

Of course the first medication she prescribes doesn’t work, and that’s another month gone by that I just can’t smile and Peanut gives up asking me to play with her.

So now I am a mother of a newborn and a disabled pre-schooler and a husband whose company just got bought and they are firing people right and left and he is on the road solidly from Monday morning until Friday night trying to keep his head down and not cost them too much money, and I can’t sleep at night and can’t stay awake during the day. The idea of returning to work literally makes me feel nauseated, and I have nightmares that all my old coworkers are threatening to quit if I come back to the office.  So I quit even though we are nearly drowning in debt and I have no college degree and no references other than the place I just quit because I’ve worked there since 1998 most of the time by myself in a little office. I am so worried about the job I did when I left there I cannot bring myself to call about getting references from the people that did work with me because I am convinced they are going to be nice to my face and then tell anyone who calls that they should never, ever hire me. They’d be right because I can’t do anything right, and hadn’t been able to for a long time and I don’t know how I ever managed to keep my job for as long as I did. I’m not competent at anything. I let them down. I’ve let everybody down.

I am nursing my baby while I am on drugs to keep me from lying awake at night worrying and drugs to keep me from hiding under the bed all day. This gives me worries about what I am giving to the baby in the milk, but they all say it’s worth it and I look at her, warm up against me with her toes curled into my thigh and hope I am doing the right thing, because I have no idea what that is anymore and I don’t know what part of myself I am supposed to sacrifice for this little person that I don’t even know.

The doctor discusses hospitalization but decides against it because I am not actively planning on jumping off the roof. Secretly I am disappointed because it sounds like I could get some sleep, at least. I don’t plan to jump off the roof because my husband would fall apart and no one else loves my girls like I do and I can’t trust anyone else to take care of them the rest of their lives. But they’d be better off without me because I am a horrible mother that hates breastfeeding and can’t play princesses for even thirty seconds without finding an excuse to go read TMZ about how Britney doesn’t have her kids anymore because she’s crazy and now Peanut doesn’t even want to come home from her grandmother’s anymore.

Some friends are mad at me because I don’t return calls and I can’t explain how much effort that takes, to hold a conversation, and that talking to other people reminds me of all the things I want to do and can’t and what a failure I am. None of them give up entirely, though. This should make me feel better but instead I feel tremendously guilty, because I don’t deserve them. Some days I don’t feel like this and I make plans and comment on blogs and smile but the next day I am back to sleeping as much as I can.

Then one day the sun starts coming out and the days start getting longer and the baby is smiling a lot and Peanut starts reading books about science with no princesses and actually enjoying them. Maybe it’s spring or maybe it’s the higher dose of medication but I feel like I can actually, I don’t know, do laundry. Not to get too nuts or anything.  It’s not every day or even most days at first, but it creeps up and I think, maybe I can bear to look at the bank balance, even if it’s bad. It’ll be okay. And it takes me a few days to get together the grocery list and get to the store, and I’m eating garlic bread for dinner in the meantime, but I manage to always have something for Peanut to eat at least, and the pets always have something as well.  I take steps back when I get sick or overdraw the bank account for the first time in 5 years, but now I feel like I have the strength to plow forward again. At least tomorrow.