99 Problems

Published on December 19th, 2016 | by Malin James



No one had warned her that having a toddler would be so grindingly, achingly hard that pumping milk at all hours would seem like a dream, a dream within a nightmarish dream, because it was hard—really, really hard—what with it scooting and getting into shit that it couldn’t reach before; and oh, my god, she just thought of her baby as it and it wasn’t a comfortable thing to call a person, especially not your moon-faced Snuggle Bunny; and it certainly didn’t make her feel like an awesome, up-for-anything magazine mom, which didn’t help because she wasn’t a magazine mom with an applesauce smile and peek-a-boo eyes, and the fact that she was trying didn’t matter at all because her baby just fell into a doorknob and got a black eye, which meant CPS would come and take her child away; and that would be awful but even more awful was the fact she wouldn’t mind—not so much, not at first— because then she could rest and think a grown up thought before lawyers and judges and social workers got involved; and oh, my god, it would be awful but then she could grab a nap while strangers watched her kid because Jesus she needed a break, but there are no breaks for parents, as her mother always said, as her fucking mother always said, there’s only one more day, but the day keeps getting harder and then harder some more, especially when your baby isn’t a baby anymore, but a toddler who wobbles and falls over cats and hits her face on door-knobs and gets into so much shit that you call her an it and then berate yourself for it, because you are a horrible parent and a horrible person for wishing even for a minute, even for a second, that someone would come and care for your child and let you rest and not stoop and crawl on the ground, not forever but for now, for maybe a little longer than for now, for maybe a little longer than you want to admit.



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About the Author

Malin James is an essayist, blogger, and short story writer. Her work has appeared in Bust Magazine, MUTHA, Queen Mob’s Tea House, and Medium, as well as in anthologies for Cleis, Sweetmeats Press, and others. You can find more of her work at malinjames.com.

2 Responses to ONE THOUGHT I HAD TODAY by Malin James

  1. Your toddler looks beautiful, and I’m sure you are a brilliant mother. It is hard, though. I am not looking after a toddler, but my 92 year old Dad keeps falling down and bruising himself (and I too think that someone will think I am being cruel to him), plus he has mild dementia, so can’t remember stuff and gets confused. It is just like having a toddler. He’s a 92 (nearly 93) year old toddler.

    • Malin James says:

      Thank you, Rachel. What you’re dealing with with your father is so very hard. I remember my grandfather taking a similar turn in his 90’s and the relentlessness of his condition taking a big toll on my mother and grandmother. I was so relieved when my daughter grew past the toddler stage (she’s five now). It was more challenging than having a newborn. I’m sending you many good wishes for the challenges you’re facing with your dad right now.

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