*Column* Breeder Cow: Wrapping It Up
Usually I'm not a big crier, but I've been weepy lately. It doesn't help that I'm reading my neighbor Angela's blog about her path through dealing with cancer or that I can't process my own life most days. In Angela's blog, she beautifully writes about her process through her treatment. It reminds me of how lucky I am to know such a person, and of course to have my health and friends and family. I'm also fortunate to have come from a bad time to one where I realize daily that something good always comes from something bad and that this world is filled with loving, selfless people. Really, what more do you need?
It's impossible to describe how deep my depression went last winter and spring. I was a penniless single mom of two young children with a deadbeat, volatile ex whose pain and subsequent behavior I could not understand. Every day when I woke up, the first thought in my head was, I wish I could die. I did not want to harm myself; I just wanted to die. I tried so hard to cheerlead around my kids, but I can't imagine what it was like for them. There is a video clip on my phone that razes me when I watch it. It's taken of the girls playing in the little pool in our backyard. They are splashing around having a ball, and at the end I say something, and my voice is horrific. It is so dead void of hope I can't believe my children heard it. I'm filled with guilt.
I started writing this column before Ruby's first year, Izzy's third year, and with an inkling already in the pit of my stomach that my marriage was not what I'd hoped. The turbulence of motherhood coincided with the complete degeneration of how I saw myself, both as a wife and the mother I'd planned on being before they arrived. This column has been a means for venting, processing, sharing, and I am so grateful for it. Three and a half very interesting and unexpected years were accidentally chronicled. I meant it to be simply a story of personal experience in mothering, and looking back, it's definitely a story of renewal.
I feel hesitant when I go on about seeing the other side of the baby years and divorce to people sometimes. I'm not there yet, but I can see it. Maybe I'm kidding myself with my optimism. All I can say is it's where I truly feel I am, and the optimism is what I truly believe. I have so many countless examples of my blessings in this past year how could I see it any differently?
The hardest part now is when something happens that reminds me that the worst may be over, but it's not over. A reminder of my former partner, my former life, my present situation being less than optimal will send me off the rails. But it's my girls, my sweet babies, that always bring me around. Different people have different experiences, of course, but I love the ages of 4 and 7 so much better than the baby years. The baby years had a sweetness I already pine for, but they were so hard. Right now feels perfect with them still being sweet and young, but somewhat self sufficient and communicative. This is the time I think I'll hold onto in memory when they are grown.
Aside from my kids, the best thing about the past year has been my friends. There are such deep complexities in female friendships, and honestly my whole life I've felt many of the complexities unnecessary. There's a lot of drama and talk and imposed expectations. I chose not to have a lot of female friends before my children were born, but being moms threw us together in unexpected ways.
There's also a beauty, as we all know, in the way women care for one another. In the life I've created post-marriage, I've cut out a lot of bullshit. I find myself in the aftermath surrounded by a group of bedrock, badass female providers whom I would kill for in a heartbeat. One of my greatest faults is my discomfort in taking any kindles and love from anyone, and I am slowly learning to take the love they offer without being so self conscious, even if I still am awed.
The last installment of Breeder Cow feels really natural, after what this particular episode of life has held. I'm sure in a few years I'll look back and think I was crazy that I mistook this time for peaceful, but it seems like a very good place to end things. I'm very grateful to Amy and Shari for giving me an outlet that was so uninhibited and honest. I do believe it saved my sanity at times to write about the utter insanity. When I look at babies now, it feels like it was a million years ago in some ways, although the girls are only four and seven.
My first reaction when I see new moms is to take that baby gently from them so they can go lie down and take a nap. It's selfish because I crave a baby in my arms again, but it's also because I know how hard being a new mom can be. My greatest hope for any mother is that she has people to take care of her. We all deserve it.
Renee Cashmere is a writer with two daughters: Isabella, 5 and Ruby, 2. Juggling a profession, keeping a home and having a semblance of a social life is so far keeping her frazzled, challenged and happy.
Read more of Renee's Breeder Cow column.
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