SMothering

God give me the strength not to kill my daughter.

Rhea was born to my husband and me after six years of trying. Six years of feeling worthless, of being taunted by my relatives and in laws. Six years of watching my friends with their babies and even getting their second child. Six years of worrying I was barren, running tests, trying out diets every quack prescribed to us, praying at every temple and crying into my pillow at night out of sheer emptiness and frustration.

But then Rhea came along. We were so happy. Suddenly it was all okay that my husband wanted to quit his well paying corporate job to partner with his friends and work on an app. It was okay that he needed capital for his business and we had to sell our home at a loss and move to a smaller flat that wasn’t even in a gated community. It was okay that I had to bid goodbye to my own home, friends I’d made, even leave my city to come to the bigger metropolis where his app would gain sure success when deployed.

It was when Rhea turned 2 this year that I noticed that my energy levels weren’t as high as they used to be. Rhea refuses to eat anything I give her. She needs to be breast fed. My mother in law insists that I’m doing something wrong. My husband is too caught up with his business and his weekend martial arts classes to share the responsibility of her care. The new place has a crazy landlord who lives below us and tells us not to have a bath more than once a day because his water bill is going too high. I have no time to even watch some TV, or devote time to my cooking hobby.

But the worst thing is none of these. The worst thing is the crying. Rhea seems to have been crying since I got her home from the hospital. She bawls through the night, keeping us both awake. She bawls if I pause our frequent breastfeeding sessions to open the door to someone. She even crawls all over me screaming for my attention if I stop to talk to a neighbour. I was so happy when school began and I could be rid of her for a couple of hours everyday. But I find my anxiety levels rise when it’s time to get her home.

I dread to be locked in with her at home, alone. I keep reminding myself that this is the child I love, the one I waited for for so many years. Why does it have to be so hard? And why do I sometimes get the irresistible urge to strangle her to silence that crying forever?

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