I’d like to say that I am a very happy-go-lucky kind of gal. Most that know me would describe me as fun, and always smiling. From reading my first few blog posts on here, you may think i’m the mom that’s got it all together. I live a happy life. I have two beautiful, healthy children. A loving husband. A roof over my head. What could possibly be going wrong in my life? The answer is nothing. Very few bad days are actually caused by something negative truly happening in my life. Some days are just days that I can’t handle trivial every day routines. They’re the days that I just break down. And it just happens.
As mothers I think we’re expected to just hold everything together at all times. We’re the glue of our family. When someone gets hurt, you kiss the boo-boos. When someone needs a shoulder to cry on, you’re there with a box of tissues in hand. But it often feels like no one is holding you together when it comes your turn to fall apart. We fall apart in the shower, when no one else is watching, listening. It’s the darkness at night that we lose ourselves in the thought of tomorrow. Motherhood is often such a chaotic loneliness that people seem to ignore, or maybe just not notice. I often battle with myself. How can someone with such blessings feel so alone, and oppressed by her own mind? Am I ungrateful?
This is what living with anxiety and depression as a mother feels like. It’s a constant mental battlefield in between the peanut butter & jellies, and diaper changes. I don’t want to be an angry mom, but that side unleashes from me before I can hold back the reigns and keep it shoved inside. You see, the anxiousness of every day frustrations builds and builds until it’s too late. The final cup of spilled milk sends you into overdrive and once you’re there it’s too late. You can’t take back the yelling, and the mean things you’ve said to those you love the most. So then you revert back to that darkness in your mind where you’re wondering if you even deserve to be their mother. How dare you break their spirit! How dare you lose your cool! You replay it over and over until you’re truly at a loss for finding a single reason on why these kids even need you around. That’s when the depression sinks it’s teeth in. The feelings of unworthiness settle in your heart. Day in and day out. The cycle repeats.
Social anxiety is a whole other battle. I constantly find myself cancelling plans, hiding in the corner at the park so I don’t have to talk to other moms. I wish I could be the cool mom that hosts the best sleep overs, and helps with school functions. But even the thought of being around other moms sends me into a panic attack. At Amelia’s school orientation, I walked into the gym and felt like every other parent was staring at me. In reality, no one was staring. But I felt my walls closing in on me, and my chest tighten. I sat in the very back corner, alone. And the second it ended, I bolted out the door.
Amelia has seen me cry too many times to count. She’s to the point now that she warns Dad that i’m having a bad day the second he walks through the door. Or she insists that I take some alone time. She knows the drill. And that’s heart breaking. I don’t ever want my family to feel like they’re walking on egg shells around me. I often dream about what it’s like to be a calm mother, one that doesn’t lose her cool over dinner burning, or my favorite lipstick being used as chalk, the mother who doesn’t overreact over every little thing that happens around her. There are days I wake up and truly despise myself. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the kids at all. Some days I just wake up and i’m depressed because i’m constantly comparing myself to other mothers, other creators, other writers. Some days I wake up and I just have a complete lack of motivation to do anything. Anxiety and depression have no preference and know no limits. They come in and steal your joy whenever they see fit. It’s crippling. The dishes pile up. You stay in a room with the door closed while the kids raise havoc on the rest of the house. Which only adds to your stress and makes things worse. You can’t force yourself to wash your face, let alone fold the four baskets of laundry. The vicious cycles leaves you feeling drained, and insufficient, while the rest of the world sets such high standards for moms to constantly, “Do better, be better.”
I try to remind myself that my mental battles do not make me a bad mom. At the end of the day, my children know they are loved. They get tucked in every night, with a kiss on the head. And they fall asleep with giggles, and sometimes tears of wanting more snuggles. At the end of the day, when they tell me they love me, I know I had to do something right. My husband knows he is loved. He is more forgiving than I deserve some days. Even when I lash out, or lay in bed for days, he gives me what I need. Sometimes it’s a nap, sometimes it’s a clean home to wake up to. Some days it’s a pep-talk; a hug and a kiss, letting me know that this too shall pass.
I am human. I am a mother. My flaws do not define me. I am taking steps to improve myself as an over all person but especially a mother. My kids and my husband deserve nothing but the best. I know I am capable of better and I won’t stop until I get there. With every tiny hand that brushes my hair behind my ear while tears stream down my face, or the little kisses on the forehead from a voice that says “Mommy i’m sorry you’re having a bad day.”, I’ll continue to keep going. I recognize my problems, and will never stop apologizing for them. Luckily, my kids are pretty good at forgiving mommy, and I try my best to make up for the bad days with fun little adventures on the days I do feel “normal”. I want them to grow up and have happy memories.
I know these issues may never completely disappear, but with a good support system, they can be managed. If you’re struggling with any of these issues as a mother, know that you are not alone. Therapy and medication are a good first step to getting help. If you love someone with anxiety or depression, what are you doing to help them get through their tough days? Sometimes a few encouraging words or a hug can get someone out of their funk. If you’re out and see a mom struggling, stop and tell her she’s doing great. If your spouse is grumpy after a challenging day at work, let him know you appreciate him. It’s the smallest actions we can take that can make the biggest impact on people. You never know how badly they may just need to hear, “You’re doing a great job.” Those few words may be what keeps them going.