I remember looking around at Mason’s 1st birthday and thinking, wow I’ve really arrived. I’m a mother, his mother and I feel fabulous about it. I’m surrounded by family, close friends, and this amazing Pinterest inspired decor I paid someone else to craft for me. I’m dressed to match the theme of his Mustache Bowtie Birthday bash, I have makeup on, my hair is blown out, and I’m smiling and genuinely happy. Postpartum depression, I can finally say I kicked your ass!
The struggle was real and the road was not easy. I fought hard to get better. I needed lots of help, help I agreed to take, because it’s impossible to recover alone. In the end, I came to accept myself as the mom I was, not who I envisioned I would be during my pregnancy. I started to forge my own identity, something that was completely stolen from me and called into question by having postpartum depression.
I would forever be a medicated mommy and that was okay. I would need the help of a part-time nanny to stay sane as a mother. I would need breaks and me time and not feel guilty about taking them. I would never make my own baby food and my son would only know formula. I wouldn’t always enjoy bath time, kids’ birthday parties, or the playground. I would completely love my son, but my identity wouldn’t be 100% wrapped up in him. I wouldn’t be like my own mother. I wouldn’t be like my mother in law. I wouldn’t be like my supermom friends. I would just be me.
I’m going to apologize now for going all sanctimommy here, but I need to preach just a for a minute.
This motherhood shit is hard. No-one expects you to jump in head first, handle it, and be perfect and happy right away and those that do need a reality check. For many of us, becoming a mother isn’t the most natural thing in the world. It fucks with our hormones, sends us spiraling into depression, gives us crazy anxiety, and threatens to destroy our identities and livelihoods. We look around and feel like every other mom is in love with being a mom and makes it look so easy. The truth is, those moms are probably struggling to keep their head above water too, they just do a better job at hiding it. Some moms are better at faking it until they make it then others. I fall in the “I suck at it” category.
And all this is normal after having a baby, we just don’t talk about it. So let’s stop pretending and start talking about it! Let’s never stop talking about it…
I remember going to a Mommy and Me class when my son was three months old. My mom took me because I was still in no condition to be out doing mom things on my own. Another mom I know with an infant similar in age to Mason, all dressed up with a full face of makeup smiled at me and said, “Isn’t this amazing?” First I wanted to scream, “No this is not fucking amazing.” And then I wanted to punch her in her made up face for making me feel like it should be. My mom looked back at me and mouthed, “She’s full of shit.” Thank you mommy.
Maybe it was amazing for her. I will never know. All I know it that it became more amazing for me as time went on and as that time passed, I grew more confident in my own mom skin–my mom skin and not someone else’s–never someone else’s. My journey to amazing and acceptance did not look like that mom’s. And your journey there won’t look like mine. The common thread that ties us together is the journey of motherhood. Whatever yours looks like for you is more than acceptable. You just have to let go and accept yours.