The mother curse

I never thought about being a parent; it didn’t cross my radar. I was not the girl who played with baby dolls and planned my wedding at age ten.

I built a castle in the clouds, it just never contained children.

Despite being raised with patriarchal standards of what women are and what women should strive for, being a mom just didn’t appeal to me.

Then I turned 26, and all I could think about was having a baby.

I became obsessed with being a mom. Motherhood sprinkled through my dreams like sparkling pixy dust. For years, my husband took full advantage of what one does to achieve parenthood.

Turns out, not only is having a child difficult for a T1 diabetic, I have fertility issues. Dreams spun with glittering gold shattered around me in shards. Hello patriarchy, I felt broken, like I served no purpose as a woman if I couldn’t conceive.

To my hubby’s detriment, I was done trying. Eventually, when my darkness faded to light grey, we discussed adoption.

As the tale unfolds, once upon a time, as a couple turned to a garden for a child, magic happened.

We entered the first stage of an adoption and discovered I was pregnant. We were thrilled. I was ecstatic.

At 31, I finally achieved this thing called motherhood.

I spent the first three years obsessed with being a mom. I made the choice to stay home, and I became a crunchy, granola mom, the crunchiest. I couldn’t get enough of my child.

Then, I unintentionally became pregnant with my second. It was a complete surprise. At 35, I found myself the mom of two kids.

This time was different. I no longer relished motherhood. It felt more like captivity.

A tower rose up, cold and impenetrable, and locked me away. I felt a darkness rolling in, and it swallowed me.

Post-partum depression takes on many forms and manifests in a variety of behaviors. I couldn’t get out of bed. I loved my kids but didn’t want to be their mom. Numerous times, I almost packed my bags to leave. I wished and wished and wished.

Every day, it felt like I was moving through quicksand. I did not seek help though until my newborn briefly stopped breathing in his sleep, as newborns tend to do, and I thought, “If he stops breathing completely, I will just sit here and do nothing.”

My own thoughts terrified me to the point of grasping for any supports available. I worked with a therapist and started anti-depressants. Eventually, I felt better.

However, during the past two years of this pandemic, I feel lingering threads of this darkness. It’s not quite the same, but there are moments when I can’t stand my kids and want to be far, far away.

My dreams pool in glistening circles around my feet. I stare at them, distantly wondering what happened to my life. I’m trying to find the person I was, but more and more of her flakes away, grinding into dust that drifts away in the wind.

For the past two weeks, my entire family has been quarantining. All four of us tested positive for Covid. Our symptoms are very mild, and we are fine, thankfully.

But we are home. All together. Stuck here. Can’t go anywhere.

I feel less and less like myself. I wonder why so much has to change for moms. Our bodies, our minds. Our desires and goals have to fit into boxes alongside our kid’s desires and goals. It’s endless. As I try to write this, one kid is driving a truck up-and-down my arm, and the other keeps interrupting, asking how to text on his phone.

Hello again, patriarchal ideals. I’m 40, disabled, gaining weight, my mind scrambled, and I wonder if I have purpose, agency in my own life. I fear I’ve been cursed, turned into the milk toast princesses of fairytales.

I feel like a by-stander in my own life.

By Imperfection

Bridgit Kuenning-Pollpeter is a mom and writer from Omaha, Nebraska but recently relocated to Urbandale, IA. When she’s not chasing children, picking up messes or reorganizing the house, she enjoys yoga or reading to relax. In her spare time (A.K.A. her dreams) she’s a Broadway star. Kuenning-Pollpeter is a freelance marketer during the day, a creative writer at night. Her work has appeared in the Brevity blog, The Omaha World Herald, 13th Floor, Misbehaving Nebraskans, Hippocampus, Emerging Nebraska Writers and Random Sample Review. She has her BFA and MFA in writing from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Her essay “The Body” was a McKenna Fellowship finalist, and her essay “Imperfection” was a 2020 Best of the Net Nominee. She is blind and writes frequently about disability. She’s working on a memoir about the disabled feminine experience. With the kids though, expect it in stores in about a decade.

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