The Darker Side of MotheringWhere am I? Where is the person formerly known as me? I stand in a room surrounded by four children, diapers, toys, snotty Kleenexes, piles of laundry and I wonder what has happened. My days used to consist of me, me, me; my books, my writing, a nap, a party, a two hour phone call. Now if I get five minutes to take a shower I consider myself lucky. A two minute conversation with another woman is a luxury. When was the last time I was able to sleep all night the deep restful sleep of my childless friends? I try to remember what it was like before I woke thirty times every night every time one of my children stretched or coughed or breathed too loud. I pack diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, bibs, burp rags, changes of clothes in a diaper bag and I try to remember what it felt like to just get in my car and go unencumbered, unhindered, unattached. What was it like before a smile or a word or a gesture tugged relentlessly at my heartstrings? Where am I? There must be a balance; there has to be because I am spinning faster and faster out of control into…somewhere. And I am not there. The diaper bag is packed, the babies are in their car seats, and I usher the other two out the door. I stop for a moment to gaze into the deep brown black of my son’s eyes, and there staring back at me is my reflection. The spinning screeches to a halt and everything stands still. I haven’t really gone anywhere; I’m still here. I’m just a different yet better version of my former self.