Today I had the immense pleasure of listening to Eating Bitterness by Hannah Yang in The Dark Magazine on The Dark’s podcast.
This was one of those stories that came at the right time to pack an emotional gut-punch. Generally, I struggle with the expectations of motherhood vs. my capacity to give. To be perfectly honest, I often feel like a failure of a mother. The past week has put that internal guilt to the test. Last week, my husband tested positive for covid. Since I tested negative, we decided to split up our family during our mandatory quarantine period. He got the first floor with his computer and a lot of alone time, and I got the open-plan living room/kitchen with two kids and our new kitten. Which, I am allergic to cats. Normally it’s okay, because `I spend the night sleeping away from the cat, letting my body reset. But a week couped up with the cat got a bit itchy in the ears. With the kids? Okay, they were a LOT better than they have been in similar situations in the past, but it was still a LOT of social interaction for me, and I was wiped out by the end of day two.
Friday we were finally able to end our separate quarantine, and my husband has taken over parenting duty while I remind myself what a computer is, catch up on some reading, and generally get some “me” time. I watched some horror films and dove into The Dark, which I haven’t gotten around to in the past couple of months. Eating Bitterness was the first story I came across, and wow, did I need it.
Stories like this remind me of how difficult motherhood is, how much weight is placed on us, and that we have the ability to say enough is enough. We also have the ability to endure, and to fail, and to do our best, and to get help and support from our family.
As a warning, there were some graphic scenes in this one that made me a little squirmy, but the visual metaphor is so poignant it’s worth (and even deserving of) a bit of discomfort. But if you are struggling with motherhood, especially in the past few crazy years, read this, and realize how far from alone we are.