It's my second daughter's first birthday today. I feel joyful and proud. We'll celebrate with loving family on Sunday (only my maternal aunt and cousins on my side, yay!) and I can't wait for everyone to shower my baby with attention and love.
But I also feel so desperately guilty when I remember my first daughter's first birthday. The little I do remember. I was suffering from depression and nothing made any sense and there seemed to be no reason to celebrate anything. Sure, we had a birthday party. I just remember feeling out of place around all these happy people. I don't think I took any photos. In fact, there are very few pictures of my daughter's first year of life. Very, very few memories in my mind too. Just one long, dark, gray, hollow, bleak day.
I didn't use to feel guilty about my postpartum depression. I used to think I did the best I could to be a good mom to my child, depression notwithstanding. But now I know that the most basic, most fundamental piece was missing in her early childhood. The joyful love of her mother. I did feel some love towards her, although I blocked it and denied it out of "honesty". It was a sad, desperate love, full of pity towards my poor child who got stuck with a mom like me, a cold, selfish person incapable of warmth and nurturing.
I know the difference now. And I try to make up for it now. But I can never bring back those years. I just have to hope for the best. I have to stop doing the ACON thing where, if I haven't done something perfectly, it's over and ruined and I messed up my Big Girl for life and nothing I ever do can make it all right now and I might as well give up trying. No. I'll just keep doing the best I know how and hope and pray she'll be a strong, secure child who knows she's loved and worthy of love.