Confession from a Mother
I am pretty, educated, upper middle class, and successful. I am also 52, almost divorced from an abusive partner, have lost $2 million dollars, and a few years ago I wanted to put a pillow over my children’s faces to suffocate them. All of this is true. And I’ve never told anyone about the latter desire. It’s too grotesque. And it’s what enables me look at those headlines, “monster mother drowns children in bathtub” differently than most.
My life looked perfect. A beautiful home, two beautiful children, one a violinist, one a ballerina, a yacht and yacht club membership, a country club membership, trips to Europe, humanist safaris to the third world so my kids could “have a deep appreciation for how fortunate they were.” I was the perfect mother. I breastfed my kids for forever, fed them only organic food, dressed them in organic clothing, taught music at their pre-school, and generally judged any mother who put her kids in daycare so that she could put food on the table was course, base, and wrong-headed. She should never have had kids in the first place. I truly believed that.
But my life was a train wreck. My husband was abusive, narcissistic, lived off his inheritance, sailed all over the world, and was generally absent from our lives. He was opaque about finances until the day he wasn’t. He revealed that our future, the kid’s trust funds, and all of our financial security was gone. Had been lost, spent down, and that the bank was coming for our house and remaining assets.
It wasn’t the money loss that threw me into the downward spiral. It was that the money loss forced a reveal: the house of cards was tumbling down and I had to confront that my pretend perfect life was ending. The money had allowed me to comfortably deny what I knew was true…that to survive, I had to leave my marriage. I would die if I didn’t. And I wanted to die with this realization. Leaving my marriage meant ripping my children out of their idyllic life. A life of 35 coastal acres in Maine, of cider pressing, running in the woods, baby chicks from the feed and seed store, an overly-devoted, near pathologically perfecting mother, organic gardens, and vacations, and private school. The ultimate in trust-fund hippie living, with a dabble of high glamour here and there.
I began having panic attacks. And spiraled into a depression that took me by complete surprise. I tried psych meds, therapy, everything. And the panic attacks wouldn’t stop. I was ill. Terribly ill. And looked at everything through that lens. I wanted to escape the pain. And projected my pain onto my children. And that’s when I truly believed that ending their short lives, leaving them with only memories of a beautiful life, would be better, more humane, than what they were about to be asked to confront.
I didn’t do it. But I realize I was lucky. And only lucky. Not superior.
Richmond, VA - Blue HIll, ME. I am a mother, nurse, fundraiser, singer, writer, and bad guitarist. I struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide nearly every day. And you would never know it.