I’ve had an epiphany: Motherhood is traumatic. I don’t mean the act of giving birth, I mean MOTHERHOOD. Before I explain—a caveat for those who might take me words out of context. Real trauma=BAD. Motherhood=GOOD.
First, let us look at the criteria of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Apparently, it’s necessary to have difficulty in three categories. The recurrent re-experiencing of the trauma, avoidance to the point of phobia and Chronic Physical signs of hyper-arousal. For the purpose of my epiphany, let us focus on the last category: hyper-arousal.
Prior to motherhood, hyper-arousal probably conjured up a whole other set of symptoms—moist, gooey, can’t wait to get back to his apartment symptoms. But not so with PTSD (Post TrauMAMA Stress Disorder). In fact, let us go to DSM description of hyper-arousal.
Chronic physical signs of hyper-arousal include sleep problems, trouble concentrating, irritability, anger, poor concentration, blackouts or difficulty remembering things, increased tendency and reaction to being startled, and hyper-vigilance (excessive watchfulness) to threat.
Hmmmm. Let’s see, sleep problems? Check. Trouble concentrating? Check. Irritability? What the hell are you looking at? Can’t I get some goddamned peace around here!?
Where was I? Ah yes, the symptoms of debilitating PTSD. For shorthand, let’s just call it another day in I-Hate-Youville.
I guess I must have remembered the physical manifestation of PTSD from my prior life as a psychotherapist, because the other night, as I lay peacefully in bed awaiting sister sleep to greet me, I pondered why I’d accomplished so few items on my to do list during the lovely ten days known as Winter Break. I mean, my children aren’t babies anymore. Why did I find it so difficult to read a novel (let alone write one) or return emails or say, think with my kids in the next room. After all, I’d been looking forward to working on that photo album from my son’s Bar Mitzvah two October’s ago, and I’d every intention of perusing the three different school calendars in order to research a jaunt this spring. (Let alone the whole summer camp situation.) Why was I having such a hard time concentrating on very basic tasks?
And then two thoughts came to me at precisely the same moment! One, I’ve been hyper-aware all week because at any moment there is an excellent chance one of my monkeys will enter my psychic space and need something: gloves, dinner, assistance drying off the remote that a certain someone just licked … and Two, it’s 1:15 AM and I’m fairly confident that I hear I’m On A Boat coming from across the hall even though I specifically said YOU MAY CHARGE YOUR COMPUTER BUT DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TURN IT BACK ON SO HELP ME GOD. This is when I gracefully got out of bed and sauntered into the boys’ room and yanked the computer away from the magnetic charger (which is actually a very cool feature; yay Apple) and said through gritted teeth, if we don’t have trust we don’t have much-Mr. Or maybe it was, you fucking ingrate go to bed. Details. Anyhoo, after hiding the computer under my dirty laundry newspaper, I got back into bed and returned to my next comforting thought: Monday will be here soon.
And then I remembered … professional development day, AKA for two of my kids school wouldn’t resume until Tuesday. Fabulous.