I just want to throw him off the balcony (laughs).
Shh, Don’t Tell! stories are meant to be heard – in the person’s own voice – as well as for the original music. Please click above and listen, if you can! The transcript is also below.
Narrator: It took a little time for Christine to really feel like a mom.
Christine: She was born right near Christmas, and I think, by yeah definitely by the time springtime came along I was totally, I was in the role. And I was very comfortable.
Narrator: But comfortable can be complicated. And Christine is really frank.
Christine: That doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to throw her against the wall.
Narrator: In this Shh, Don’t Tell story, Christine contemplates a balcony – and her son Bobby.
Christine: I told my mother with Bobby I was like, I just, I was standing out here on the balcony and I was just like, ah, I just want to, just throw him off the balcony. (Laughs) Just that one step. You know, oops, bang. Oh, my in-laws were here! Oh my god! My in-laws. Of course. And they are wonderful people, but not hands on necessarily. Yeah, like my mother in law, her opinion is ah, let him, let him cry. Let him cry. Ach. And then the father is like, “Shouldn’t you be picking that kid up?” And I’m, you know… Anyway, I think I was just overwhelmed by the in-laws.
And I had just read about this woman, or somebody, they don’t know who. Somebody threw an infant down from an apartment building. And somebody found it on the ground. It had died. And they still don’t know whose child it was. I had just read about that, and I was standing out there trying to calm Bobby down and I was like oh yeah…
I don’t like thinking those things, but I like to get those out. I like to get those demons out. Because when you get as frustrated as you do, or as I do, I don’t mean just regular frustration, like oh god, I wish this baby would stop crying. It’s like, really angry frustrated, like the way you would feel as a child when you couldn’t do something, when you couldn’t have something, when you couldn’t reach something. It’s that sort of infantile bwooaaaah. And it just overwhelms you like a wave. I know I’m not going to throw my child off the balcony or bang him against the wall, but I think it’s really good to get it out and to talk about it and exorcise the demons in that way.
My friend Ilke, who has two kids, she was the first one who said to me that she was so surprised at the hatred she could feel toward her own child. You have this unbelievable love, or this weird form of love that you’ve never experienced before, and then all of a sudden, something goes wrong, you’re sleep deprived, you’re pissed off for some other reason, you’re frustrated. And it goes straight to your relationship with your kid. And you just want to go – somebody, take this kid away from me. Somebody, take care of the kid while I get my life back, or whatever’s bothering you. While I deal with this issue with my husband, or while I watch a film. Whatever.
The moments I’ve been most frustrated – when Bobby didn’t eat, didn’t nurse the way I expected him to. And didn’t respond to my trying to manipulate him to nurse the way I expected him to.
Mentally, I would just sort of lose it. You know, it would be like the equivalent of like your eyes going back in your head. Just going aaaaaaaaah. I would get frustrated with him, by like…if he was crying and I couldn’t calm him down, I would be a little more physical with him, you know like dance a little harder to the music. I would give him to Goertz, I would say HERE you take him. And he would say, ok, next time give him to me before you lose it, which made me just even more angry, of course. What else would I do?
Oh, I hit Anna with a book once. With a Dr. Seuss book. And I don’t remember why. I was so blinded by anger. She was sitting like this, and I hit her with a book on her head like this. The back of book. And as soon as I did that I was like, oh god, oh my god. I just hit my child. It wasn’t even hard. She didn’t even cry any more than she was already crying. She didn’t see it. That’s why did it probably. I must have considered it in my head and gone I can hit her without her knowing it’s me hitting her. And as soon as I did that for at least two weeks, every night, I would go – ay, oh my god, I can’t believe I did that. And I told my husband, right away. I said I hit our child this morning because she – I can’t even remember, oh god. I think that’s why I know you have to get it out, get it out before you actually hit. Because the feeling that you get once you’ve actually hit somebody, I’ve spanked Bobby, like gone like this on his bum, but I don’t think counts. Because he has a diaper on. But once you actually do this (whacks hand on table) to your child you have failed. You have failed as a parent, you have failed as a person. And that feeling of failure, at least for me, that feeling of failure that I had, it makes it really not worth it. Like if you could get your anger out at the child and have it really be satisfying, then I would say, ok, go ahead, do it. But it’s not satisfying. It doesn’t – it only makes things worse.
What I would do after I did that, is I would put Anna down, I would go away from her and do this (slaps thighs with hands) just to get out my anger. Or I would hit a pillow. And I found that really, really helpful to get that physical oough out.
I was in an environment in which I could express that and people would go – they knew right away what I was talking about. I think it’s really important to have friends like that.
The only taboo I can think of was that I had talked to a pregnant woman about miscarriages. And I was horrified with myself. I would say now – do not talk to a pregnant woman about anything other than how fantastic it is. Unless you know her really really well.
Special thanks to Baby Blues Connection for help with Shh, Don’t Tell! Stories, to Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists for our awesome theme and other music and to cellist Collin Oldham for his terrific compositions and scoring.