When my daughter was born in 1998 she sucked the life out of me.
I don’t think twice about saying this. I say it with more confidence and gusto now than when I was 31 and I half-whispered it during play dates.
I hoped another mother would inch up to me, a hidden sister, and nod back in code that meant, “I hear you.” Sometimes I got lucky.
When you know who you are, and at 48 I’m well on my way, shorthand sarcastic summaries of motherhood conserve mental energy. They create fast bonds. Instant glue. No need to explain.
Read “motherhood sucked the life out of me” and you’ll likely fall into Group A: “Hell yeah! I get that.” or Group B: “Oh my God that poor child. Her mother doesn’t know what a precious gift she has.”
It’s too tiring to unravel hidden meaning for group B who in all likelihood will take my back-paddling (I’ve done lots of back paddling) “But I love her so much I can’t even tell you…” as a sad attempt to cover up some mother monster within.
Group B just shakes their heads and prays for me because they think my kid is doomed.
Fortunately Group A, the Honest Sarcastic Mothers are taking over across the Internet.
But until our honest-mother shorthand becomes native language among all parents, I still feel compelled to translate:
“She sucked the life out of me” doesn’t mean:
- I wished I never had a child
- I’m horrible parent
- I hate being a mother
She sucked the life out of me does mean:
- Labor and childbirth suck. Okay, mine did. I think we all know the “beautiful” parts of parenting. Mine is nearly 16 now. Pushing humans out of a vagina? As beautiful as a raw oyster covered in cocktail sauce.
- I wished I never had post-partum depression but I did. It healed me in countless ways and my story helped a few mothers. Net effect, good.
- I’m not fond of the purple stretch marks all over my abs and breasts but I earned them. I got a spectacular kid to show for all those uglies. I won’t go so far as to call stretch marks Badges of Honor. I’m far to vain to pretend I’m okay with them.
- Motherhood meant my identity once I stayed home, turned into a cluster fuck of never resolved ambivalence.