Today a lot of people have been asking me about your sibling(s), and though I have told them that I don’t believe you will ever have one, they are reluctant to allow me that decision. I can afford another one, they say. I’m just being selfish, they claim. Apparently, if I do not give you a brother or a sister or both, you will be lonely, selfish, spoiled, weird, and/or too mature for your age. If you do not have a sibling with whom you can play and fight and share, I have failed you as a mother.
Motherhood seems to be this room everyone talks about, and everyone has an opinion about what it is like. For some, it is a beautiful, messy adventure. It is the place they have always wanted to be. It is home. You are 3 and a half years old, and I am only now admitting the truth to my close friends.
Walking into motherhood, stumbling through my threshold, I found postpartum depression. I recognized the problem as I was putting the trash on the curb one day. You were asleep in the house, and I thought of putting you in a plastic bag and placing you in the trash. And relief flooded over me.
It hurts me to write that last sentence.
I remember standing at the curb as you slept in the house and feeling my palms sweat, the adrenaline rushing through me as I stared at the green trash bin. I sat on the stoop in front of the door and told myself I couldn’t go back inside until the thought went away. I did this each time I thought of hurting you.
When you were born, my grandparents held you, looked at me, and said, “We were afraid you wouldn’t love her.” Because my mother had postpartum psychosis, I knew I was predisposed to postpartum depression (at least), but knowing and experiencing are miles apart. I found myself ashamed I couldn’t be better than my mother — that I was crazy too. So I didn’t tell anyone. Even today, I can count on one hand how many people know.
I am the mother who locked herself out of the house to keep you safe. And I am afraid to tell you because I don’t want you to ever believe you were not wanted or loved. It is because I loved you that I sat outside; it is because I loved you that I could walk back in. You are loved — in every way — cherished and wanted, my one and only. But owning my limitation is the most courageous thing I can do right now.
You may grow up an only child. I just hope you can forgive me for it.