I carried my daughter for many excruciating months. I then labored for twenty hours to bring her into the world. I was torn and mutilated as her large head emerged from the birth canal. I have forgotten how many staples were needed to reattach my bits and pieces afterward, but I remember that it could not be counted on two hands.
I nursed her every 2 hours until I could no longer bare the pain of it, and then I would use a breast pump to give myself a few hours to heal. How many times was that milk filled with blood like strawberry Nesquick? I continued this on varying levels of suffering for two long years!
But my bleeding breasts were the least of my agony, as my breasts were, time and time again, ravaged by yeast infections and mastitis.
My body morphed into a shape akin to a potato, and my breasts surrendered until they resembled “A sock with a rock in it.” (A phrase coined by my similarly stricken Aunt).
But I couldn’t lend enough of my mind, at the time, to fret about these things. My every moment was consumed by the demand. The screaming ceased for a precious few and painfully short moments, but mostly it remained.
I spent at least three months sleeping, standing up like a horse. My only reprieve was not a reprieve. It was only that I occasionally managed to sit rather than stand. But when I found myself sitting, she was always there. She would sleep on my chest through the entire night.
Her weight, which grew exponentially with every passing minute, would prevent my chest from rising after a time, and I would feel as though I was suffocating.
My arms, employed as the sole means of support to prevent her from sliding onto the rug, burned fiercely and threatened each time sleep would overtake me to give up and leave their post. So that the entire night was spent in a tortuous cycle of gasping for a breath, pain, suffering, and terror that I might drop her.
And the diapers! So many millions of diapers. Diapers heavy with urine, loaded with poop, diapers bursting at the seams with both. Then there were the diaper blowouts. Blowouts in Target, blowouts in the Grocery store, loud blowouts during the quietest part of the church service, blowouts on my hip, in my lap and on the carpet, in the car seat, and the public pool.
When she was finally old enough to walk, she ran. And when she could speak, she said, “No.”
But, she was my child, so I put in the work on those nights that she was vomiting on herself in her bed and then again on the recliner in which she was sitting while I was trying to clean the mattress. And then again, on the way to the bathroom to shower her off and then all night long into a bucket which I emptied and cleaned and returned to her bedside.
And I did it a thousand times, often when I was throwing up myself or running an outrageous fever, or caring for one of her siblings who were also sick.
I zoned out in the wee hours of the morning after a puke festival, hung over with exhaustion and cough syrup, thinking, “Why don’t kids ever seem to get sick in the morning after I have had a good night’s sleep?”
But, of course, no answer ever came.
And then the tween and teen years were upon us, and I headed back down into the trenches, filled with all manner of hormonal horrors. I waded through rivers of tears, threatening to sweep her away, to rescue her. And every time I went to shore with her in tow, she smiled and ran off as though it had never happened. But, low and behold, if she wouldn’t be drowning again, in the next moment.
My hair thinned and greyed, and my skin wrinkled and lost its bloom from the stress of it. Around every corner was a new calamity and around every bend was a new set of rapids to traverse.
But I did it. I saved her from all her enemies, the biggest enemy being herself.
She emerged, and when she did, it was glorious! She shed her cacoon as I used the very last drop of strength that I had left sloshing around in the bottom of my soul to help her as she struggled to free herself from it.
I can see it as though it were yesterday. And I know that she can too. After all, she was there. She has the same memories lining the grand hallways of her mind. And she knows that 90% of those memories include her faithful mother pouring her life’s essence out for her benefit.
And why did I do it? Yes, it was the right thing to do, she was my child, and it was my legal responsibility, yadda, yadda, yadda.
NO! I did it because I wanted her to take care of me. Now that she is grown, she can start taking care of me. I’m tired, and I don’t want to cook anymore, and I would like to stop doing the dishes and the laundry.
It's her turn now!
But guess what? After all of my years of sacrifice and selflessness, she repays me by LEAVING!
Yep! You heard right!
Not only is she not going to take care of me, but she is also going to leave me!
And what is she leaving me with? Boys! Boys and dogs, that’s what I have now. When I look to my left, there is a boy, and when I look to my right, there is a boy, and when I try to get up, there are dogs in my lap preventing it! Even the air around me is ripe with the putrid scent of their flatulence and heavy with the weight of their testosterone.
But she is gone, like yesterday!
She emerged from that cacoon, spread those fancy wings, and flew away without a backward glance.
I called after her, “Daughter, after all, that I have done for you, how could you just leave me like this?”
She said something about college or some other nonsense, but I couldn’t hear her over the sound of my wailing and self-pity.
Since that day, I have been doing a little better. I have joined a group of mothers who have suffered similar situations with their daughters. It’s called “Mothers Abandoned, Forlorn, Irritated and Angry,” or MAFIA.
We have become a very organized group of women, making plans, networking, and lining the right pockets. It won’t be long now, and our presence will be felt in every college town in this nation. We are going to eradicate this belief that it's somehow okay for daughters to abandon the mothers that laid down their lives for them.
Words like “Boundaries,” “Enmeshment,” and “Infantilization!” These slurs against a Mother’s love for her daughter have no place in the English Language.
Instead, we are going to bring back some old favorites like “Loyalty,” “Duty,” and “You owe me, so get your ungrateful butt back home and cook me some dinner!”