On The Dark Days Of Motherhood

by Wendy Wisner
Originally Published: 
Image via Shutterstock

On the dark days of motherhood, please don’t tell me, “You are not alone,” because no one is with me now, both kids on the kitchen floor screaming about a miniature red truck, the sounds of their shrieks like tiny needles pricking my skin.

Don’t tell me that, “This too will pass,” because I am in it this very minute, standing over my son who is refusing to do his homework after I’ve asked and bribed and begged, the anger in my throat rising, the sounds and words coming out of my mouth freaking me out — actually scaring the shit out of me — because I sound just like the mother I never wanted to be.

Please don’t say, “Enjoy every second,” because I can’t make myself enjoy my existence my right now, my greasy, unwashed hair in a messy ponytail as I trudge behind the baby, who insists on eating his rice directly out of the Chinese take-out container, leaving a trail of sticky rice after him as he wanders the house.

And don’t follow up with, “But a messy house is a normal house,” because I am not you, and I get so fucking clenched and anxious when the house is covered in toys from end to end.

The dark days don’t come every day, and for that I am eternally grateful, but when they are here, the last thing I want is advice. The last thing I want is some sugar-coated offering to try to numb my pain.

My pain is real then. The dark cloud is over me, and I don’t want some fake light shining over my life. I want to dwell in it a little, feel the hell out of how shitty things are right now. And then move on.

I always tell my children to feel their feelings. Feel them, name them, and let them go.

It’s the same for me. I am just about the last person you will see complaining about her children, begrudging her life as a mom. I realize how lucky I am to spend my days with my children.

But on those dark days, I need to be real — with others, and with myself. And I often feel like there is very little room for true honesty. If I speak the truth, I run the risk of sounding ungrateful, mean, or whiny.

What about human?

Parents need less advice and more listening. True listening, without judgment, without an agenda. Without someone trying to make everything all nice and tidy. Parents need to hear, “Yes, it sucks. Yes, you are totally fucking alone sometimes.”

And they don’t need to follow up with, “But you’ll miss these years after they pass.” Of course you will miss it all. You know that already. You don’t need to hear it again.

The dark days do pass. I know that. But when I’m in them, I need to be able to inhabit the darkness without pretense or guilt. It’s therapeutic. It’s healing. It’s how I move through the darkness into the light.

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