I have always struggled with control and my need to be perfect. Ever since I was a little girl, I would erase pictures if it didn’t look right. My mom told me that I used to make holes in my paper from practicing writing out my letters. Naturally motherhood was a challenge for me.
When we had our second daughter Skeeter, I figured that this transition would not be so hard. I did a pretty good job with Munch. I was completely unprepared for the postpartum depression and the postpartum anxiety that followed. I felt like I could not do anything right. I was reminded of this the other day when my dear friend Lindsay of http://www.withalittleloveandluck.com/ tweeted this to me.
Ever feel like you can’t be a great mom and a great work at same time? I used to be one and now I’m the other. #cantbalance
I met Lindsay on Twitter at #ppdchat. She and I are both Warrior Moms that have lived through postpartum depression. She and I both work outside the home, and we frequently vent to each other regarding our frustrations at work.
When she tweeted this to me, I responded to her chatting about work/life balance. The more I thought about this question, I realized that the answer isn’t about work/life balance. It is about being confident in yourself, your self-worth and your abilities. Depression steals your self-confidence. I had such a low self-image. Depression is an insidious beast. It turns your own mind against you and tells you lies. In the #ppdchat community on Twitter, we created a persona of our negative self-talk. We named her Velma.
Velma told me that I was a failure. She told me that I should be able handle all of this. Velma told me that everyone hates me – my family, my boss and my coworkers. She told me that I didn’t deserve my husband or my girls. Velma berated me for every little mistake I made. I could not do anything right in her eyes. I was a terrible mom and a terrible person.
In reality the juggling of work and life with a husband, preschooler and an infant was an amazing feat in and of itself. Both my husband and I work full-time, and we have commutes of over thirty minutes. I drop the girls off at daycare in the morning, and he picks them up from daycare in the late afternoon. I managed pumping at work for twelve months while juggling all of my regular duties at work. I managed my time very effectively. I threw myself into work trying to prove that nothing had changed even though we had added another person to our family.
Yet motherhood had changed me again. I was now the mom of two girls which meant the potential for one or both of them getting sick. When I took a sick day to stay home with one of the girls, I focused my attention on them. I would periodically check my work e-mail, but I used that day to nurture my little one. When I had an intense period of work that required me to stay late for several weeks, I worked it out with my husband. I made sure to spend extra time with each of the girls on the weekends. Once my work schedule became less intense, I took a vacation day. I treated myself to a manicure and a pedicure in the morning, and I spent the afternoon with my girls.
To my friend Lindsay and other moms who are struggling with postpartum depression, just take it moment by moment, day by day. You will realize your own courage and strength. I have emerged from this experience like a butterfly from a cocoon. I am more confident in my abilities both as a mom and as a professional. If I could handle the worst year of my life personally without it affecting my work performance, nothing can stop me now.