In which I resented babies and learned to love them

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve written an original post, so excuse my writing, I’m rusty and disjointed on medication that for the most part works. When my Cenobites are raging the words flow and flow and flow. The medication takes the words and chains the Cenobites and keeps the real me at bay. Sometimes I want to come off the meds but I have small children and suicidal tendencies and I have to be responsible instead of being me.

Anyway a workman is installing a window next door in 30 degree weather -a balmy day for this winter in New England (although it’s spring now isn’t it?) – and his radio is playing “Stuck in the Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel and I’m thinking of my mother. Here’s the song if you’re interested:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DohRa9lsx0Q

I was stuck in the middle with my mother – on the one hand I loved her as all children instinctively love their mothers, on the other wishing I could switch her out for my aunt, for all of the neglect and growing abuse. I didn’t realize the reasons for my conflicting feelings, of course. This manifested in many ways. One was for me to despise babies.

Babies were shiny. I was dirty. Babies were dramatically doted upon. I was largely ignored. Babies had fancy, plush, soft things. I had trash from Bradlees.

Bradlees

Mostly babies were adored while I was neglected.

I got D’s in first grade because Dad was in jail and Mom was too busy drinking or going out to sit down and do my homework. Or because she would oversleep in her hungover state and I wouldn’t make it to school at all. Such things would have Social Services at one’s doorstep now, but not in the 70’s. Often she overslept and didn’t respond to me at all. Typically I didn’t care so much, I wasn’t especially popular with the other kids and I wasn’t such a good student, despite my earnest efforts. One winter the Boston Public Schools sent everyone to see the Boston Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker. That morning I rushed to the bus stop by myself in the cold. I waited and waited, peering keenly down the street for the yellow bus but it never came. I ran home and woke her. She felt bad (guilty) and called a cab but by the time we got to JFK Elementary in Roxbury the bus to the ballet had headed downtown. I just wanted to go home but the administrators made me stay, an attendance issue. I spent the entire day alone, which was bad enough, but at lunch time they made me serve lunch. I was incredibly shy as a child and as a first grader it was incredibly intimidating for me to go into the older kids’ classrooms and carry their lunch trays to their desks. My anxiety grew as I got up into the fourth and fifth grades. Of all of the things I saw and experienced at home, at that time it was easily the most painful day of my life. To me these things didn’t happen to other kids but most certainly not to shiny new babies.

My grandmother always seemed to be fawning over babies, my entire family came from Jamaica Plain and my grandparents knew everybody. My grandmother often took me with her to Sol’s Drugstore, a popular corner rexall with a counter where grilled cheese and milkshakes and ice cream and seemingly whatever else I wanted were served. People were always bringing babies in. I loathed them from my stool. I would be coaxed to fawn over a baby and I would just sneer. I wanted to tear the baby from its carriage and toss it to the floor and smash it. Of course I would never actually hurt a baby or anything else at that age, it was just a fascination.

I went so far as to hate baby dolls. One holiday I got a baby carriage and my younger sister got a little kid car. I hated my blasted gift and calculated and conned my sister into letting me use her car, making it my own. What would I do with a baby doll, never mind a doll carriage.

Carriage to the left:

Doll carriage

My disgust for babies carried into my adult life until one fall night in 1993 when I was high on cocaine with my first husband and his married friends and their baby, Billy Jr. The wife handed tiny Billy to me and Billy felt so natural in my arms, his skin so soft to the touch, his downy hair so sweetly perfumed. It occurred to me that we shouldn’t be getting high around a baby and I stopped using for the night, rather I spent the evening nuzzling this new creature, new to the world and new to me, a marvelous new concept, innocent and worthy of every ounce of doting and fawning I could muster. And suddenly I despised Billy Sr. and his wife Adrianna. And even my own husband.

By Thanksgiving it was evident to me that the love of my life was addicted to cocaine so I stopped using and informed his family. Turned out it was a powder keg – the youngest of nine and only college graduate, they took him to family therapy and it turned out the whole family of children had been molested by three separate pedophiles. It only made his cocaine use worse and he lost his job. By January I was pregnant.

My sister was horrified, thinking what a terrible parent I would be. My father and step-mother (Mom was long dead by then) urged me to abort. My grandmother offered to pay for it. I even took the train to Brookline to Planned Parenthood to do it. But something happened – and I don’t believe in God – but something happened in there during the paperwork phase that prevented me from having that abortion and I took my suddenly emotionally exalted self back to the green line and directly to the grocery store, where I spent every dime of that abortion money on groceries. I bought cottage cheese for the first time in my life and lots of other healthy foods. I made swordfish that night and informed Henry that we would be having a baby.

Lily and Leah

I became a tiger mom, leaving Henry home with what would be two baby girls in one year and earning a measly $7.25 an hour to rent an apartment and keep us in insurance. He cleaned up and went back to work, managing a department at Massachusetts General Hospital. I got promoted through the ranks and we bought our first condo on the water in a popular Massachusetts tourist town. I became the president of the elementary school PTO and hosted play dates, then Christmas parties for all of the girls’ classmates at our place. I became a soccer mom and earned lots of money. Life was good.

Then Henry’s demons caught up with him and his lifelong alcoholism augmented to include verbal and emotional abuse. So I left him. I remarried. I had three more children for my second husband, although I didn’t necessarily want more children at that point in my life, but he did so I happily accommodated. And I adored those babies and I love these children. So now I have little ones aged 4, 5 & 6. Plus the 20 & 21 year old. The older ones are in college and the little ones are almost all in school. 24/7 parenting never came naturally to me, I was always a worker. My therapist says it’s because no one ever cooked for me every night, got me ready for school regularly, bathed me daily. But I do it. I am so close to getting a little of my life back…

My husband is very supportive of my mental illness. I have diagnoses of Complex PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. He does his best to navigate my raw nerves, complexes and triggers. He takes care of the kids when I hospitalize for safety. But boy is he gonna think I’ve lost it when I tell him I want another baby to love…

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Comments

  1. You are wonderful!

  2. It’s always nice to wake up to someone telling you that! Thank you, I think I’m nuts. I look forward to your post today on touch 🙂

  3. You are a warrior! Unfortunately and fortunately I can relate to much of your child hood. You are a survivor and deserve to be happy, smiling bright! Having the warmth come back into our hearts for children after it goes away is truly an amazing thing. Seeing their innocent little souls staring through those eyes is breathtaking 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful day! Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Thank you very much for reading! I’m sorry you relate but hope that you are also healing. You’re right, babies are breathtaking! Be well always. Now to go to your blog 🙂

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