My goal going into this thing is to be as real as possible. Vulnerability isn’t my strong suit. Although I often hide behind a facade of jokes and goofiness, I rarely dig deep and let others see that side of me. Starting off with such a heavy post wasn’t what I had planned, but this is where I am. So here it is.
It’s been three months since I met the newest member of our family. I held my sweet baby in my arms and fell in love for the third time with one of my little creations. I stared at her tiny mouth and chubby cheeks and was more amused than I should be at her little grunts and squirms. But then I was thrown back into the swing of daily life, and all of those magical moments seemed lost. Suddenly a tidal wave of guilt and misery swept me away…again.
I’ve had the disease of never feeling good enough my entire life. I’m always besieged with guilt over not doing something right or coming up short in yet another area, but it’s something I’ve learned to live with overall. Except after babies. After I have a baby, the blues come in deep and heavy and that disease grows into a giant monster, ready to swallow me whole. Feelings of inadequacy become incessant assaults on my daily life, on my whole self. “Why can’t I enjoy my children like other mothers seem to do?” “They’d be better off without me.” “I have no patience; I’m ruining my kids.” “I suck at crafting with my kids. They probably think I hate them.” “Why are you so fat? Other moms lose the weight…” Basically “Mommy Guilt” goes to a whole new level combined with a complete kung fu battle on everything about me. My house is in a disarray and there are days where my kids survive off of little more than snacks that I throw in their general direction. I sit there feeding the baby, staring at the mess, and wondering what in the world is wrong with me.
I understand that there is always an adjustment period after having a baby. Finding a routine and ironing out the kinks just comes with the territory, but this is something deeper, more debilitating. My normal self is lost, hidden beneath the overbearing weight of inadequacy. Of less than. Of worthlessness.
It isn’t all bad. There are moments of light amongst the gloom. A good day pops up here or there and I can suddenly breathe again. My sister and I get goofy and I can let loose. A friend will let me overstay my welcome and I can escape the constant verbal assault I give myself for at least a few hours. My husband will sense my pain and put off much needed studying in order to keep me company and watch a movie he has no interest in watching. If it weren’t for those days, I don’t know how I’d make it.
I’ve been through it twice before, so I know eventually, I will begin to feel normal again. One day my laugh won’t feel forced, I won’t be fumbling for the words when talking to people, and I will be able to feel whole again. I’ll be able to see my sweet babies and not feel guilty for not enjoying them like I should or wanting to run away much more than is normal. Until then, my daily mantra becomes, “It will pass. Just get through today.” And sometimes that’s all we can hope for, making it through the day.
So I suppose I’m writing this not only as a catharsis for myself, but for solidarity’s sake. You are not alone. If you have ever gone to bed feeling like you weren’t enough. You are. We are. We can do this. We’ll survive by making it one day at a time. Together.