March 8, 2010

December 2, 1982--4 Children


I have had my happy ending. My four darlings have grown up into strong, loving wives and mothers with challenging careers, supportive feminist husbands,  and brilliant children. Parents in the trenches often are comforted by how many mistakes I was making. 

My kids are 9, 7, 4, 7 months. We had impulsively moved to Bangor, Maine from Manhattan in March 1981; I almost immediately got pregnant. We are snowbound November through April. My husband insisted on heating our 4-bedroom house entirely with our wood stove and six cords of wood. We had a three-sided metal gate attached to the living room wall with carabiners to keep the girls away from the stove. I had never before had to cope with stairs and kids. My ability to write in full sentences has collapsed. I am trying to decide whether we should try to move back to New York. I am very active in the Nuclear Freeze movement. Being a political activist and the mother of 4 isn't working. I remember the good times so vividly and totally forget the hard times. No wonder why younger mothers reject the saccharine advice of older mothers.

I have not edited my journal entry.

I let the kids stay home today because Michelle was hoarse and Emma was hard to rouse. Their being home busy with their projects makes it harder to keep Molly (the baby) safe. Molly has a scratch near her eye, and I don't even know how she got it--perhaps the kitten? Made apple crisp, made bread. No oven timer, so I kept losing track, worried about the stove door being so loose--will it fall off? Reading Lifton-Falk book about nuclear war, will give me nightmares. Kids bickering; baby eating pieces of paper. All my careful preparation for naught, no time to sit down and relax. Molly hardly napped. Papers all over living room floor. Snapped and yelled.

Do I want to go back? Something always make me stop at the brink. Fear of admitting we made a mistake? Or are these growing pains? Half-conscious of my tendency to romanticize my life in New York. I didn't share my political interests. We probably know more people in Bangor who share my interests than we did in New York. I glanced back over my journals. A bracing perspective. Mothering has always been hard. So much for my fantasies about how much better a mother I was in New York. I am so hard on myself. Go to the library and look up book on depression.

5 comments:

slouching mom said...

So...how long did you last in Bangor?

Mary Joan said...

We lasted in Bangor from March 1981 to October 1983. We would have moved back sooner, but my husband was in a field with relatively few jobs. In NYC we were only 15 miles away from both sets of grandparents. In Bangor we were 450 miles away. My grandmother was dying and my dad was developing Alzheimer's disease. My husband loved Maine, but moved back for me. I didn't truly realize that at the time; it was the first crack in our marriage.

deb said...

Sounds like hell and mothering has always been hard for me as well. I love my kids no end but it's just hard work.

Janet said...

No wonder why younger mothers reject the saccharine advice of older mothers.

So true. I already feel my memories of my first two children's early years developing a Polyanna tinge. They were asking me to relate stories about their early years, tonight at dinner, and I could only remember the good stuff.

Mary Joan said...

I recall Anne, my oldest, the terror, always used to beg me for stories of when I was bad. It is easier to remember the not so good stuff about my oldest than about my younger daughters, but then I wrote in my journal when I was at the end of my rope.