Today should have been perfect. It should have been the kind of day that makes me grateful for everything I have, excited for what is to come, optimistic that I can put the pain of the past year firmly behind me. And that’s how it started.
Thanks to hubby (can I call him that still? We’re separated, not divorced…he’s in another relationship and yet I still can’t bring myself to call him my ex) having baby for the night, I slept – not deeply, not even unbrokenly, but well enough to sustain me for another week of what I’m certain will be laughable attempts at getting her to sleep solidly for a decent number of hours.
Following a long hot shower (a novelty most days!) the three of us were off to the local zoo. And it was great. We laughed, we joked, we took selfies of the three of us, we argued over whether or not it was ok to sit the baby on the back of a goat for ‘an epic photo opp’. All in all it was exactly how it should have been, a wonderful family outing with smiles and fun all round.
So why am I sitting here now crying into my (almost empty) family-sized bag of chocolate buttons? Not because I know I’ll pay for my shameless binge eating session by having to add another button hole to my jeans. Not because there’s now a video out there of me shrieking and running away from the world’s biggest chicken (I swear, bigger than me). But because today is exactly how I always pictured my family spending our time…only without hubby going home to another woman at the end of the day. Without me questioning whether or not I’m the best parent to be looking after the baby. Without all of my self-doubts crowding my mind, pushing away the sunshine of today’s adventures and replacing it with grey clouds of self-loathing. I look at our amazing little bundle of joy and all I can think is – I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that you’re not growing up in a house where mummy and daddy begin and end each day with a kiss like they used to. I’m sorry that you spend your time being shuffled back and forth between two houses. I’m so sorry that you have already seen mummy cry more than anyone should ever have to witness. I’m sorry I can’t be the mother I always thought I’d be, because all the happiness in me died the day he left me; all the colour that infused my life melted away and left nothing but murky shades of grey. Don’t get me wrong, this beautiful little soul makes me laugh every day, she makes me smile, she makes me yell, she makes me…..feel; she’s become the sunshine that chases away some of the clouds. But I still don’t see the world in colour anymore. Surely that’s wrong, surely my feelings of love for my baby are supposed to infuse everything with colour and happiness; surely they’re supposed to make everything and everyone else seem insignificant in comparison. Surely everything I do is supposed to be for her now, and that is supposed to be enough to ignite passion and joy in me again. Why isn’t it enough? What kind of mother allows her feelings of despair over her relationship with another to overshadow the time spent with her child? Sometimes the guilt of this overwhelms me, pulls me further and further down into total darkness until I wonder how I’m ever going to crawl out. Am I ruining her childhood already? Will she remember mummy curled up in a ball crying at night? Am I subconsciously stopping the ‘normal’ mother/daughter attachment developing? Will that screw up all her future relationships? So many questions, worries, feelings of guilt swirling around my head every day – how can I not wonder the one thing mother’s aren’t supposed to wonder: would she be better off living with her dad? Would I be doing her a favour if I left?
And then there she is. Waiting for me with just the biggest smile on her face – all for me. Every morning, no matter what. Her arms reach out for a cuddle and for a moment everything else does fade away. And the tears stop. And my mind is still. And without even knowing it, this amazing little human has saved me for yet another day, and I think maybe – just maybe – there’s an end in sight to all this pain and anguish and guilt.
Of course this won’t be the last night I sit here crying over the injustice of it all. Hubby and I agreed from the start that we’ll do whatever we can to ensure our baby grows up with two parents who put her first no matter what, who get along, who can spend time together with her as a family. I know one day it won’t hurt like it does tonight to think of what we’re all missing out on by not being together in the conventional sense. And I’ll be grateful that we managed to make memories like we did today.
Even if I did almost lose my baby to a mother wallaby just for “another amazing photo opp!”
Sweet dreams all