My Haunted HouseOctober 25, 2010 at 10:00 am | Posted in Family, Lollipop | 18 Comments
Tags: Babies, Baby Blues, Balance, Challenges, Chocolate, Halloween, Motherhood, Newborns, Post-Partum Depression, Relationships
Leaves. Acorns. Scarves. Fall.
Pumpkins. Scarecrows. Hayrides. Halloween.
This time of year is one of my favorites. But since I’ve become a mother, it’s also bittersweet — and no amount of candy corn can sugar-coat the melancholy.
Five Halloweens ago, I was a first-time mother with a two-week-old.
I was shell-shocked. Physically broken. In a sleep-deprived haze I felt sure was permanent. Worried about a slightly underweight newborn who preferred sleep to milk. Feeling guilty and ashamed that I didn’t know what she wanted, what she needed.
She cried. I cried. She slept. I slept. She woke in the middle of the night. I begged her not to. We were together constantly. All day and night, we sized each other up, trying to figure out how we were going to coexist.
What I remember most from those first foggy weeks is how I felt: unsure, unprepared, scared. I was used to picking up new things quickly. I considered myself smart, confident, industrious. But that person disappeared along with the daily showers I was used to getting. I despaired that I would never learn to be a good mother.
I subsisted on Halloween candy. During the exhausting and incessant cycle of nursing, supplementing, burping, pumping, rocking, tiptoeing, and repeating, I would snag a Snicker’s square or a Kit-Kat stick. Or both. The sweet chocolate was a soothing balm for my shaken soul. When I was sure of nothing else, I could count on Hershey’s.
Eventually, of course, I emerged from the fog, as most of us do. I learned. I made mistakes. I found a new and powerful strength within myself. I discovered that deepest of loves, the one everyone tells you you’re supposed to feel when you become a mother.
It took time. It took chocolate. It took patience — my own, my family’s, my Lollipop’s.
This Halloween, I will lead her from house to house. I will help her unwrap Tootsie Rolls and Sweet Tarts. I will exclaim over all the pirates and princesses we pass.
And I’ll notice the jack-o-lanterns, as I always do, with that strange and lingering mix of resilience and sadness. In the bright flickers of light burning inside them, in the dancing shadows they cast, I’ll see myself.
How have holidays become more poignant for you since becoming a parent? What stands out most from your first weeks as a mother or father? And what was your child’s first Halloween costume?