Anonymous Mom is a weekly column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this unanimous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.
I want desperately for someone else to admit they’ve felt this way, but even with the anonymous byline I’m hesitant to write it down.
I’ve had visions of horrible things happening to my baby. Seeing her drown. Falling off the balcony. Getting hit by a car when she’s in her stroller. Once when she was crying uncontrollably in her car seat, I jerked the car into a parking lot and imagined smacking her across the face. Instead, I yelled at her to blow off steam, got out of the car and sat in the backseat to nurse her, crying the whole time.
I’m half-convinced these visions are due to my natural instinct to want to protect her, that perhaps this is nature’s way of preparing me for those unlikely but horrible “what ifs?” I remember reading that we have primal nightmares about getting chased by animals or being whisked away by tornadoes because our subconscious needs to “drill” for this sort of emergency. Is that what my brain is doing?
But I still can’t help but peruse information about Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Psychosis (PPP), wondering if I have some variant of this. Like most women, I had the so-called baby blues when baby was a newborn. I had periods of weepiness over the first several months of her life. I even had thoughts of suicide, reminiscent of my long-gone clinical depression from my teenage years. It was scary for me.
But I never truly wanted to hurt my child. I may have envisioned it, but it was like I was watching my doppelganger do it. It was more like (does anybody else do this?) the way you sometimes get the urge to yell in a library or take your clothes off and start singing from your office cubicle just to see what will happen. Of course you’re never going to do those things, but doesn’t the thought ever just occur to you, and for a moment you fear your curiosity will win over your prudence?
It’s that teetering feeling that frightens me, like something stronger than my adult logic will suddenly take me over. I’ve never fully believed the testimonies of criminals who state that “voices” made them do things, or that they “blacked out,” unless they’re legitimately schizophrenic, of course. It just doesn’t seem possible to do something, especially something horrible, without realizing it.