Having a Child Made Me Feel Trapped
For the first three years of my kid’s life, I was terrified to be left alone with him.
Here’s what I knew, pre-motherhood:
Work: I’d held a job since I was 16 years old. My jobs through the years had a psychic power over me; I felt beholden to them, as I’m sure many women do. I went to work no matter what. When my beloved dog of 10 years died one Sunday night, I wasn’t even a few minutes late the next day. I cried in the conference room when I needed to.
Me-time: I am a homebody, as is my husband. We both cherish a well-worn routine that rises and sets and never challenges us in any real way. It’s just, the world is so extra. Venturing into it is overrated.
Twilight depression: I am prone to bouts of hopelessness that are usually brought on by change or doing too much, both of which upset my routine, which, see above. My routine stabilizes my mood; my emotions demand routine.
Enter motherhood! Pow—all those old standbys bit the dust. I became a mother when I was nearly 33, so I had a long, long time to nurture a life of doing whatever I wanted. That first night at home with our child, we put him in his bassinet, read for a little while, kissed each other, and turned out the lights. Ah, life was the same, only we had this new sweetie. What luck! Fast-forward 45 minutes, when the sweetie woke up. Then woke up 45 minutes after that. Repeat for the rest of the night, and many nights after. By dawn, I felt like we’d been deposited in our home, only something was off. The walls were closing in, was that it?
I devoted myself to getting back to the me I’d been before. I yearned for my maternity leave to end, for my child to sleep through the night, for my husband and me to be alone. Only then would the cloud of baby blues lift, I told myself.
Lift they did! My child began sleeping like a champion; I went back to work; our evenings were our own after 7:00. I had conquered this parenthood thing with only a teaspoonful of shit to eat every day.
But still. I feared the days when my husband had to travel, or if my baby was sick and couldn’t go to the nanny share. The idea of being alone…