Thursday, August 2, 2012

Daniel Has an Imperfect Mother


I’ve been cranky recently. Call it bitchy, call it a short fuse, whatever it is, Daniel has seen and felt it. It’s not about him. He’s being his lovely one-year-old self: mostly delightful, sometimes frustrating. But my moodiness felt bad enough that I took myself back to the Postpartum Stress Center today, to talk to Marcie, the counselor who helped me out of my depression six months back.

I vented it all. Everything I’ve been angry about lately, starting close to home, ending with the Catholic Church, with many things in between. After I was done, Marcie observed that I seemed “loaded for bear.” I had to agree. She added that when I don’t make time for myself, I get cranky. I nodded. She reminded me it was my responsibility to carve out alone time to write, to renew, to refresh. This rang some bells. “You ignore this at your peril,” she said.

I know everything she said to be true. We have covered this ground before. But the sneaky belief that it's selfish to need alone time had crept back in and taken over. My work for the moment is to accept the following as true: Whether I like it or not, I need alone time to be healthy. In its absence, I get grumpy, and grumpy can slide into depression. I wish I could handle everything with aplomb and grace, but I can't. Based on past experience, I show a lot more of both if I'm regularly refreshing myself with time alone to write, to dream, to play.

I’m sorry, Daniel, that you have a mom who gets depressed. I’m sorry you have a mom who needs breaks from you. I wish I could protect you from all pain, but I can't. I hope that by taking care of myself, I will set an example for you, one that will help you to care for yourself one day. You are my sunshine, my delight, the heart of my heart. I hope you always know and believe that.

7 comments:

Kaara said...

It must be in the air these days...

carol brill said...

If you had an infection and the doctor said you had to take a pill to be sure Daniel did not catch it, would that seem selfish?
I wonder if you could reframe your definition of "me time" as the supplement you need to take to keep Daniel from catching "crabby"

Julie Owsik Ackerman said...

Oh no, kaara. You too? Thanks for stopping by.

Julie Owsik Ackerman said...

Thanks, carol, for your wisdom. I'm going to try that reframe. Grumpy is definitely contagious!

Chris Brady said...

Julie, It's good for Daniel to be away from Mommy too. He will experience other people (and they him) and he will see that you always come back to him.

Think of your away time as a learning opportunity for Daniel.

I think it's great that you seek help. So what's your plan? Are you scheduling me time?

Chris

KZN said...

I admire your honesty, Julie. May more of us be as true to ourselves so that we can be whole, and therefore, give whole/holy love to others. Didn't Virginia Woolf need a room of her own? Didn't Jesus need time alone in the desert? True that, yo.

Julie Owsik Ackerman said...

Thank you so much for the loving comments, Chris and Kristen. I love the Virginia Woolf reference, and I love the idea of giving whole/holy love. Beautiful.

Chris, I have been carving out alone time. I made a schedule for the rest of summer, and am putting babysitting into place for once Carl goes back to work in September. And thanks for the thought that being away from Mommy is good for Daniel. I do think that way when I'm at work, so it seems I should be able to apply it to when I'm writing and taking care of myself, right?