I have been bipolar since October 24, 2008. This also happens to be my son's birthday. Coincidence? Not a chance.
I am lucky enough to be able to stay home with Topher. For 2 years and 4 months I have been home with him every single day. In the winter we don't have a car (and it's Iowa so it is -5 degrees) so we are within the same walls of our home every single day. I have attended to every diaper, every tantrum, every mess, and every injury. Sometimes staying home feels more like a test of my sanity than anything else. It feels as though Topher is wrestling me, pulling on me, or clinging to me every minute of the day. I am a very private person. I live inside the walls of my head and I need physical space to myself or I can't feel like a whole human. (Being pregnant was a challenge for me just because I could never, ever be alone. That baby was with me no matter where I went. I know that sounds horribly selfish. It's not my most attractive trait, but there it is.)
And on days like that, I know it isn't fair to my husband who works hard all day but I will watch out the window for his car, clobber him the moment he walks in and declare, "I can't be around the baby right now. I need some distance." This gives him not a moment to decompress from work, not a minute to sit down or eat. And yet he always takes Topher without hesitation. I love him for that.
But here's where I become bipolar. There are those days when I can form no other thought than, "I need a break from this. I can't do this. I need to go to work and be a productive individual." So TJ and I will plan a rare weekend away, and I will be ecstatically looking forward to it. A whole night of sleep? I think I can still count those on one hand. I will count down the days and become more and more excited...
until my countdown gets to 1.
Suddenly I start feeling guilty. I think about Topher waking up at night and asking for me. I think about letting him down by not being there. I wonder if he will feel abandoned or heartbroken. I imagine him crying for me. And then I want nothing more than to cancel my trip. Even if I have been counting down for 30+ days with unsuppressed glee.
The thing is, we're so lucky. We have the best place to leave Topher. My in-laws are the most amazing grandparents in the world. They are calm and reliable. They have gardens and bird feeders and they bake their own bread and can their own salsa. They have a shed with a real tractor that my son is enthralled with. Grandpa takes Topher to his workshop and shows him what he is building and lets Topher watch and help. I love that about him. Grandma reads to Topher and lets him sweep the kitchen (even though it makes a bigger mess) and is never, ever too busy to just sit and rock him. I love that about her. They have room to run and play, indoors and out. Their home is clean and inviting. They always, always want to be around Topher. They love him as much as we do. When he leaves their house, I have to endure days of "Grandma grandpa be back soon?" from Topher. In fact, the more I think about it the more I realize how blessed we are to live close to them. They are the salt of the earth.
But there's just something about being a mom that makes me bipolar. I want nothing more than a break from my son, and then nothing more than to never let him go. I have a feeling this is not something I can grow out of. I have a feeling that I will be bursting with pride on my son's first day of school, and then I will promptly have a nervous breakdown as his bus pulls away.
I want to be more laid back as a mom and I'm really working at it. I know he's fine when I'm not there. He's more than fine. It's good for him and it's healthy. I'm the one who needs to work on feeling fine. And I do...once we're well on our way I can feel myself relaxing and looking forward to a little adventure with my husband.
We have just such a trip planned for this weekend, a little Valentine getaway to Minneapolis for 2 nights. And I will NOT freak out about leaving Topher. I will drop him off, tell him I'll be back, squeeze him tightly and kiss him a million times. Then I will go and I will be happy. I will be overjoyed. I get a weekend away! I will have so much fun that I might never come home. :)
So to the world's greatest grandparents: my apologies if I ever seem to panic before leaving my son with you. He could never be in better hands. I really mean that. I am so grateful to have married into this family.
It's all within the walls of my head. It's a disorder. It's my bipolarity.
And I blame it on my son.