I saw this amazing post, and I had to add my take on it. Social media like Facebook can cause you to compare yourself to the mama who seems to have it all together. I would see these blog posts and adorable pictures, and I would berate myself. Why didn’t I have it together? Why couldn’t I reach out to friends and schedule play dates with my friends who were SAHMs? I suffered in silence, and I withdrew from my friends and family. I felt so much self-loathing and hatred towards myself. I felt like I did not deserve my beautiful family. I hated the person I had become. I treated the loves of my lives with rage, irritability and frustration. If I treated the people I loved that way, how could I fake it for anyone else? I could not keep up that facade. The depression and the anxiety threatened to consume me. My loved ones knew that I was struggling, but they felt powerless to help me. No one knew exactly what to say.
Janelle so eloquently tells us in her post to just ask the mom how she is really doing. Look her in the eyes. If you hear a little catch in her voice on the phone, go see her in person. Postpartum mood and anxiety disorders make women isolate themselves at a time when we need the support and love of our community. Connection and community are what that struggling new mom needs. That is what I needed. It does not take much to make a struggling mom feel heard and validated. Sometimes words aren’t even necessary; just a simple hug can make a world of difference.
Motherhood should not equal martyrdom, but that is how I approached those early years. I felt like I had to sacrifice everything for my daughters. I worked full-time, and I spent quite a bit of time nursing and pumping. I felt like I could not take any time away from my darling girls since I spent so much time away from them. I started to resent them for taking everything from me. What I failed to realize was that I forgot to fill up my cup. I felt so guilty about taking any time away from my children for self-care. I felt like I was deserting them. I had forgotten that I was a person with needs. How could I take care of others if I did not take care of myself? My girls understand the value of self-care now at ages four and seven. They understand that Mommy and Daddy have outside interests and hobbies. When they protested this weekend that I was going for a run, I reminded them that I had been especially cranky this past week due to a lack of intense exercise. After a few minutes of debate, they acquiesced. Nearly an hour later, I returned from a five-mile run refreshed and recharged. I found this podcast a while ago, and it really resonated with me. https://powerofmoms.com/radio-episode-10/ This podcast title inspired me so much that I made it the title of this post.