The exact source of the phrase,“I wish I could quit you,” is fuzzy in my memory, but the sentiment frequently streams through my mind as a parent.

This has never felt easy to me, but four is hard, and feels hard-est in fact, at least compared to whatever else my brain has held onto from whatever preceded this, the seemingly impossible present.

My daughter’s feelings are so big, so strong. I want to be able to hold them for her and find routinely that I can’t. My feelings in response to hers are so big, so strong, that the field in which they meet becomes a battlefield, one in which, under these circumstances, no one is winning.

At the end of a day of single-parenting this spirited, sweet, imaginative, stubborn, creative, loving, sassy, and often incredibly rude and angry child, I want to simultaneously curl up in a ball, scream, throw things, thrash violently, cry, and submerge myself in a pool of warm water (in which I might perhaps scream some more).  I love my daughter more than life itself, which, if I explore the meaning of, really means that now that she exists in my life, there is no life without her. And a world in which she might no longer exist is not a world I want to live in, despite the fact that mothering her is quite possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done and, thanks to this experience, I will be quite satisfied if I have just this one go at it and leave it at that.

It’s so intense. All of it. The love, the struggle, the exhaustion, the wanting to do better, the anguish of not, the joy, the gut wrenching everything. It’s more than I have words for. Clearly.

I recently participated in a breath work group, during which I laid on the floor, in essence, breathing and sobbing among a roomful of others doing the same. It was wonderful and comical. It was uncomfortable and awkward. I had done it before and will do it again, because, for me, there’s nothing like grieving with a room comprised mostly of strangers to feel wholly connected to myself and humanity.

But I digress.

While lying in that space, resting in all of the beauty and discomfort of the moment, my mind, seemingly out of my control (one goal of this particular practice) went to the day I labored, preparing to give birth to my child. In that memory, I watched in my mind, as my daughter moved out of my body and into my arms – and in that moment, one that is etched into being, I recognized her. I looked upon the face of my child and immediately forgot about the struggle and intense pain of moving her through my body. I saw her and felt this strange, wondrous sense that I had always known her – this little piece of my being, entering the world tied with a string to all of my hopes and dreams and bits of myself begging to be a part of something greater.

And so she is. She is like me but not. She is a part of me and living absolutely of her own accord. She is four going on sixteen. She is a magical unicorn and she’s awful to be around. Sometimes the absolute worst. But she is also unapologetically herself, a force to be reckoned with. And I am glad to have been reminded that I knew–as soon as I saw her face, as soon as I held her in my arms–that she would be.

2 Replies to “Brokeback”

  1. Dear Heidi – You are so able to put your finger on straightforward yet tender words that capture the essence of motherhood! But the words have a broader and more universal application as well – the nature of being a parent raising a child. “Mother” has its own unique characteristics, but a lot of your writing struck a chord with both Lou and I, and also we sent this post onto our son who is challenged daily and nightly by his son who is soon-to-be four years old.

    Also, this floated into my emailbox and I thought of you. Are you familiar with the work of Lenka Clayton? An Artist Residency in Motherhood. Maybe you don’t have the time/energy/need to be, but here is her website

    She just published a book, “Mothers’ Day”. Here is the introduction to it:
    “The 15th of July 2019—was the day the roadworks outside the house began, was the day the baby was due, was the day of six vomits, was the day she drove home in socks, was the day her father went into a coma, was the day the big leaf on the houseplant unfurled, was the day the residency began, was the day she was stung by a bee, was the day she finally saw the ferry come in, was the day the chickens got out, was the day of the TV audition, was the day of the meeting with the divorce lawyer, was the day the letter from the police arrived, was the day his tooth fell out, was the day she found out she got the grant, was the day she suddenly realized her baby was now a toddler—was a normal Monday.”
    ~ Introduction to Mothers’ Days, Lenka Clayton

    You can download a free copy at

    Check out her website if you ever need to know more. It says,
    “A self-directed, open-source artist residency to empower and inspire artists who are also mothers.

    You don’t have to apply. It doesn’t cost anything, it’s fully customisable, and you can be in residence for as long as you choose. You don’t even have to travel, the residency takes place entirely inside your own home and everyday life. An Artist Residency in Motherhood is the reframing of parenthood as a valuable site for creative practice, rather than an obstruction to be overcome.”

    You are amazing!

    Susan Krueger
    Bowling Green

    1. Susan,
      I’m deeply honored that you both appreciated and shared my work. It is all that I can hope for in letting the world into my inner griefs and experiences.

      It means a lot.

      I really appreciate the link and information shoot the residency. I’m very interested in looking into it.

      Please let me know if you’re ever in the Ann Arbor area or would even want to meet up sometime closer to you. I think of you both often and would happily make the drive.

      Thank you for your message.

      With care,

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