Last night’s dishes still in the sink, laundry that’s been in the washer for three days, clothes that were supposed to be hung up in the closet but instead are sitting in a perfect pile in the entry room and a home that would make an episode of Hoarders look nice and tidy. You don’t want anyone visiting because you feel like such a failure. You are exhausted, overwhelmed and you think you don’t have it together. At the end of the day, you creep into bed exhausted from the hustle and bustle of keeping tiny humans alive, changing diapers, making lunches, reading the same favorite book for what felt like 30 times in one day. Tearing yourself apart because you burned dinner while you were saving your toddler from eating a new piece of god knows what they found while reaching underneath the couch. Depressed because you haven’t showered in three days but are too exhausted to give a shit. I see you, mama. I know how you feel. I truly do because I have been there too.
Postpartum depression is something I thought I would never get. I’ve always had my goals set in place, loved and accepted challenges and thought I would never ever fall victim to the feeling of motherhood overwhelment or the slightest possibility of postpartum depression. I have since learned that it affects way too many women and is very often the silent monster that no one wants to talk about for fear of ridicule, embarrassment or the ever present mom shamers lurking at what seems to be like every corner these days. When I had my son, I knew I was embarking on a journey I would never forget. Ever since I announced I was pregnant, everyone talked to me about what colors to paint his room, what baby items to get, or what I should and shouldn’t be eating. No one talked to me about the “other side”. The nitty gritty side, the side that can overshadow you like a big black hole trying to eat you up from the inside out. Once my husband’s paternity leave ended and I was completely at home with a newborn during the day, motherhood became an overwhelmingly lonely experience. I was alone at home, with almost no one reaching out to me, and most importantly with me reaching out to almost no one. I wanted to feel like I had it all together, and was too embarrassed to admit otherwise.
When i learned i was becoming a mother, I had signed up for many daily notification apps on my phone for new parent education. I had emails towards the 9 month mark alerting me of the “baby blues”. I thought there’s no way it could happen to me, I was in no way going to go through something like that. But indeed, it happened to me too, just like it happens to MILLIONS of women. Once the outgoing, social woman who loved getting together didn’t want to go even go to the grocery store or face the public. I had an overwhelming sense of anxiety with a new little human in tow. I had no family to help me and felt confused being a new mom. I didn’t give a crap about the dishes in the sink, my mom bun hair i had been wearing for three days straight, or the outside world. I held on daily until the clock struck 4pm and I knew my husband was on his way home from work and would save me. Everyday I would watch the clock and just try to make it until then.
Fast forward to now (a year and a half later) and these are way better days. I’m loving my life as a mother! Are there still stressful days? Of course! Kids are a handful. I have learned to go with the flow more now and to not sweat the small stuff as much. Looking back, I was in fact suffering from postpartum depression and I was in complete self denial. I was too embarrassed to admit anything was wrong. At the time I had a newborn, I was so focused on succeeding that I didn’t think about the natural, uncontrollable postpartum effect that can rear it’s ugly head. I thought if i didn’t want it to happen to me, it simply wouldn’t. It’s ok if it happens to you. It’s ok if you are going through this. Most importantly, it’s ok to talk about it and seek advice, help, or even a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes people don’t understand, and sometimes, it’s even the people that you think would never get it that are the most compassionate listeners. Postpartum doesn’t have a shut off switch. There is no “it will last 3-6 months and then you will magically snap out of it and be back to normal”. It takes a while and every woman is different.
What I’ve learned now is that it is not the end of the world if the mountain of dirty laundry gets done on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday night. Trust me mama, it doesn’t. Your mental health is WAY more important. The days when you are overwhelmed because the dishes are piled up from making a great meal from feeding your family that you can’t even see the countertop, remember that you are an amazing mom. The laundry that’s starting to smell like mildew for three days in the washer, which needs a rewash now because instead, you were teaching your toddler the ABC’s snuggled together on the couch, you are an amazing mom. The days when you are holding your sanity together by a thin string because you have had your hair pulled, been spit up on, have been rocking hairy legs because you haven’t showered in three days with no human interaction besides your significant other, you are an amazing mom. The end of the day feeling when you finally get into bed only to be disappointed because you feel like you could have done better, done more, done something differently, given more of yourself, you are STILL an amazing mom. In fact, you are more than an amazing mom, you are an irreplaceable, important, super woman.
When you feel like you failed, you are overwhelmed, you are worthless, please remember you are not. Your children do not see you this way. I promise you, your children won’t look back and say “mom did the laundry on Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday night, what a horrible person! I’m going to need therapy for that”. They will remember the mother that cuddled with them on the couch and spent their evening singing the ABC’s to them, their most favorite part of the day. When they look back, they won’t remember the pile of dishes on the counter after dinner, they will remember the awesome chicken dish with the best mashed potatoes they have ever had.
On the days that you are feeling like it is too much to handle, reach out to someone. Send a text, send someone a message on social media. If you don’t have anyone, you can even get into many supportive social media mom groups. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Please remember, you are more than the mess in the kitchen, the clothes in the washer, or the burned dinner on their plates. You are a human being, someone that is irreplaceable and one of the most important people in your little one’s eyes. If reaching out is too big of a step, do this one tiny thing; get out of the house and breathe some fresh air. That really helps. Soak in the sun, the air, listen to the birds and take a couple deep breaths in. That was my first mini step and I still do that today.
Motherhood is one of the toughest jobs out there. There is no vacation, you are 24/7 and many times, you are overwhelmed, overworked and feel under appreciated. But remember, you don’t have to struggle alone or in silence. On the days where you feel overwhelmed and the only thing you feel you have accomplished is breathing, don’t forget how far you have already come. There are only 24 hours in a day, and the next day a brand new set of 24 will be there just for you. You are way too often your worst critic, so don’t be too hard on yourself. You are only human. Love your kids, but most importantly love yourself.