I am a long time member but started a new account specifically to post here more anonymously.
When I got married 3 years ago, I was recovering from an abusive relationship, rape from a close "friend", and losing a pregnancy that I hadn't wanted in the first place. I made the foolish choice to marry and get pregnant (on purpose this time) by someone I didn't really know but whom I thought I loved and was loved by. At the time, I had barely a possession to my name--as in, I owned an old, dying car...no furniture...no place of my own...terrible credit...no money at all. At first, my marriage was idyllic. I had stability--with money, but also with the steady support of my husband and a home we lived in for more than a few months. I had a beautiful birth, an easy breastfeeding relationship, and LOVED being a mother. Everything was EASY. The first cracks in the foundation of my marriage were beginning to be apparent, but I could mostly ignore them, and he was good to me. It was easy to be a mother to this happy, laid back little baby. I nursed her on cue, coslept, wore her constantly, cloth diapered, fed myself and my husband delicious, healthy vegan meals, all while reveling in the joy my sweet little girl brought me and the bliss of motherhood. Fast forward a few months...the military transferred us 3,000 miles away from my hometown and all of my family and friends (though to a place we were excited to go to, at least.) A week after we got here, he told me he no longer loved me and it was a mistake to marry me. I didn't know a soul in our new place. He soon found out he was being deployed, and within 2 months of our arrival was going away for weeks at a time in preparation for that deployment, and I was left in the rainy, cold Pacific Northwest (originally from Florida!) with no support system. My daughter was beginning to crawl and get into things, and she started nursing all night and not going to sleep on her own, which she had done for the first year of her life with no issues. I tried to treat my depression naturally, with 5HTP and passion flower and B vitamins and fish oil. I tried to convince my husband to go with a counselor to me, but he completely checked out while I desperately tried to fix our relationship. I started to be overwhelmed with motherhood, and irritated, and sometimes I'd walk away and let her cry (for 2-3 minute) because I just felt like I was going to scream if I had to lay there with her for another minute, trying to get her to sleep. Me, the one who condemned CIO and used "The Continuum Concept" as my Bible for that first year. Fast forward a few more months... my husband and I separated, and I've tried to move on. In all of my loneliness, in the overwhelming stress in my life, I've tried to figure out a way to be financially stable and take care of myself efficiently for the first time in my life. I am trying to figure out how to juggle everything when once I had an equal partner sharing the workload. We've been living apart for several months now, and I'm sooo not there yet. I find myself resentful of my daughter, though it clearly isn't her fault at all--if only I could work full time and support myself and not have to be under the thumb of my awful ex husband. But instead, my choices are, to leave her in daycare and be even more exhausted at the end of the day than I already am working very part time, and feel guilty and like a bad mom on top of it all, OR to continue to be under his thumb since he's helping me financially. And I have all of this anger towards HIM... he chose to not be married and he chose not to try in our relationship, and he chose to walk away, and now she and I are the ones who get to suffer...he gets to be the fun dad for a day and a half on the weekends (most of which she spends sitting in front of the TV) while I do all the hard work. She's sick often, always during the week, and so I'm the one who deals with that. She often doesn't sleep (except when she is with him, supposedly!), and I'm the one who stays up to cuddle/persuade her to fall asleep. She is almost 2 and into EVERYTHING all of the time, and I clean up after her. I take care of her doctor's visits and work on potty learning. I'm the one who nurses her, and changes her diapers, and gives her a bath every night. I'm the one who has to learn about discipline and implement it--the brief time he spends with her, she is supposedly angelic and there is no need for discipline. I know I also get everything else--I get to watch her grow and experience all the fun parts, too. But even realizing that, it doesn't make the hard parts easier for me anymore like it used to. Even when we first moved here and I was so depressed and lonely, it still wasn't *this* bad. I still felt connected to her and so in love with her. Now I feel like I am desperate to just shove her into his arms and walk away when it's his turn to be with her...and yet the moment she is gone, I desperately miss her and can't wait to see her...all while dreading the responsibility of having her back with me again. I want a full time job just so I can be away from her, and at the same time feel the guilt over leaving her. I feel these bursts of love and devotion to her among a steady stream of irritation and frustration. I just don't know what to do or how to parent this person who used to be an easy little baby but is now a strong willed, whiney, seemingly always-unhappy toddler.
And soon the military is sending him to Japan for TWO YEARS. Meanwhile, I get to stay here and be her only full time parent, the only constant in her life. I am not financially stable. I have terrible credit. I am starting to develop a support system but still feel alone. I feel completely trapped in this situation, like a caged wild animal. I'm helpless. I don't cook healthy meals anymore, I hate breastfeeding and after 30 seconds ask her to stop (thankfully she has nursed less and less since she turned about a year old), and I desperately want my bed to myself so I can just BREATHE. (Luckily she will often start out the night in her own bed but she usually pads into my room in the early am asking "mommy's bed? hug?" and I feel the guilt for not appreciating her sweet little soul again.) I find these disturbing thoughts becoming more common...things I hate to admit...like "What was I thinking?" or "I don't want to be a mother" or "I just want OUT." It sounds so awful and selfish. She is going through so much, too...
My daughter is so sweet and fun, but lately she has been so incredibly cranky and clingy and destructive. I don't know if it is just her age, or 2 year molars, or what's going on with her dad and I, but she is just like this tornado. The other day, she was sick and slept in until 9 am, and my day was AMAZING because I was able to get ready to go in the morning and have some time to myself, all without her completely destroying the house while I did so. I had so much more patience with her, felt more connected to her than I have in a long time. I didn't run late to work, I didn't forget anything, and I even got some housework done. I felt so TOGETHER. The thing is, she almost never does this, and the earlier I get up (trying to get ready before she wakes) she gets up earlier, too. In the afternoons, when she wakes from her naps, I feel like I'm going crazy because she is just tearing everything out of the cabinets and making a gigantic mess and the only way to stop her is to get her out of the house. I swear she has 100 tantrums a day. I know most of this is age appropriate behavior but that doesn't make it easier for me to deal with in the moment.
My friends tell me I need a break and time to myself and hobbies outside of her. Which, at the moment, I get that time on weekends (until he leaves in May.) However, it is never enough. By Monday morning, I am back to the irritable, angry, resentful, mean mommy. I'm on antidepressants (trying my third kind now...) I'm desperately searching for a therapist who does CBT and takes my insurance, so that I can actually make some progress instead of just talking and talking about things (which I've been doing for years and it hasn't fixed anything.) I'm part of a great AP mom's group...but that mostly just makes me feel inadequate and 'not crunchy' enough.
I don't know what to do other than those things. I don't know how to stop being hurt and angry and regretful and resentful. I don't know how to stop feeling trapped and helpless. I don't know how to stop wanting to punish my ex husband for what he has done to us. I don't know how to get rid of this guilt. But worst of all, I don't know how to enjoy my daughter anymore.