With the recent celebration of Mother's day here in the U.S., I've been reflecting a lot on my catapult into motherhood. It's hard for me to comprehend that I've been a mother for almost five years. On one hand, I can't remember how it feels not to be a mom and on the other hand, it all feels so new. I still feel like a novice who is treading water in this role that feels like uncharted territory.
In my five years of motherhood, I've learned and adapted, and most of all, I've changed. Like completely and drastically changed to the core.
And then I had one.
For anyone in the throes of postpartum depression, Mother's Day can be a terrible day. Rather than being a day to celebrate who you are as a central figure in your child's life, it can really feel like a time that highlights your failures and lack of enthusiasm for your role. I understand; I've been there. The beautiful images of flowers and pastels that we're inundated with from every department store didn't jive with the darkness I once associated with the holiday.
Things just didn't "click" instantaneously for me in the motherhood department. I didn't feel an immediate bond with my baby, I didn't like having someone whose needs were so intertwined with my body, and I just felt that every move I made was wrong. I felt hopeless, and for every well-meaning person who commented on how precious my little baby was, I just sank further into the feeling of inadequacy. Why didn't I see how precious my little one was? Why couldn't I handle an infant? Why was it so hard for me when people with far fewer blessings and a lot less support could handle mothering without batting an eye? Why couldn't I just be happy? Why did I want to leave it all behind? Was it worth sticking around for?
I guess I still don't know the answers to most of those questions, but I DO know that motherhood was worth sticking around for. I do know now, after baby #2, that even without the depression, extreme sleep-deprivation makes me a crazy-woman who cries all the time, and there's no way around that! I know that babies are not my forte, but I love love love being the mom of a four year old. I know that a different birth experience the second time around made me happy. I know that it was worth doing all over again. I know that there is no such thing as a perfect mother. I learned that even on the best of days, the emotional baggage that a mother carries can be terribly burdensome. I've learned that sometimes putting the baby books down and following your instincts is the way to go. I've learned that I don't regret any of the hard work and sacrifices, as I'm (slowly) seeing the effort pay off. I've learned that post-partum depression made me a better person because I'm more empathetic of others in their struggles. I've learned that sharing my failings and inadequacies is often far more important than talking about my successes.
To all of you moms who are in the midst of what can be a very hard time, try to put a smile on your face and keep on chugging forward--sometimes that's a step in the right direction. You're not alone in your struggle. Share your feelings with someone you trust. Sharing your feelings with a doctor may be helpful, too.
Hang in there, my friend. There are better days ahead.