I just "moved" from Bogota, Colombia to Oaxaca, Mexico, with a short trip to Washington, DC in between, and so have been woefully behind on all of my favorite series (and blog posting). Last night, after putting both kiddos to bed, my husband and I plopped down onto the couch, looked at the clock (it was 8-almost-too-late-to-start-a-movie-o'clock), and decided to catch up on Homeland.
However, Carrie did not go on scrub-a-dub-dubbing. My mouth fell open as I watched her place her little baby - softly, gently - underneath the water. For longer than a millisecond. Right before I was going to slam the laptop closed, she picked the baby up and held her to her chest, panic and anguish written all over her face (quivering chin and all). She then freaked out and asked her boss to station her in war zones so that she wouldn't have to bring her daughter with her. I turned to look at Billy, my eyes narrowed and mouth pressed into a thin line (my judgmental mommy look) and said, "I can't f*$#ing believe her. What a shitty person! I hate shitty moms!"
We finished watching the show and I went upstairs to start my ritual of getting ready for bed (babies and kids aren't the only ones who need routines in their lives). As I'm washing my face with my favorite Burt's Bees face wash, I start thinking about Carrie and how she couldn't cope with being a mother. I remembered how, just a little over 4 years ago, I had felt as a new mom. How scary everything was. How disoriented I felt for the first 6 months of his life. How much I had missed the freedom of my "old" life. I remembered one particularly hot afternoon in September, when Des was only about 1 month old, and I was trying in vain to get him down for a nap. He kept fussing and crying, for over an hour, and finally, I placed him on our bed, walked out, and closed the door. As I stood there, hand still on the doorknob, listening to his cries, I remembered that I had left the window next to the bed open. For a few seconds, I imagined him rolling out the window and how I wouldn't have to be a mother anymore.
I closed my eyes, took a shaky breath in, and walked back into my bedroom.
I was in a pretty dark place. I think a lot of women are when they become mothers for the first time. Had I known that there were several women out there who felt the same way I did at the time, I would have felt more normal, more deserving of help and assistance. As it was, I felt disgusted with myself and was afraid of the reactions I would have received had I told anyone what I had thought. Visions of the happy mommy friends and perfect mommy bloggers I knew raced through my head, each one standing there in shock, saying to me:
"How can you possibly think such a thing? That is your baby! I could never think of harming my own child!"
"Wow. You're such a shitty mom. Your kid should be taken away from you."
"I don't understand how you could have a child if that's the way you feel."
And the sad truth is that I had thought all of those things when I had heard or read about mothers who had thought about harming or had harmed their kids.
4 years later and I'm happier than I have ever been. I was mentally and emotionally prepared to become pregnant the second time around and had no problems with coping with motherhood with Roman. My heart aches for Desmond, since our first six months or so together I had felt all those crazy things. I can't imagine a life without him and am so grateful that I did not do anything drastic. I have suffered through some crazy guilt because of it, but am realizing more and more that I am not alone. That other women out there have been blindsided by the crazy feelings they had towards their infants.
So, writers of Homeland, please do something for Carrie. I applaud you for showing a side of motherhood that is rarely spoken about. And for those of you who have struggled or are struggling with similar issues, I urge you to reach out. I didn't. I was alone and I was too proud to reach out to my network of family and friends for help. I struggled with conflicted feelings needlessly for months. I now have a beautiful group of female friends with whom I speak on a daily basis (most are contributors to this blog!) and all of the crazy thoughts that run through my head get run by them first. I am a better woman and mother because of them.