August 9, 2013

Vocalizing Frustrations

Earlier this week, I stumbled upon this post over at the Renegade Mothering blog, titled "You Blissed Out Moms are Ruining Futures" by way of PAIL Bloggers. It was a post that struck a deep chord with me. I thought it was truthful, well-written and well, funny! I like funny. (Side note: I WILL be going back to her blog frequently because seriously. I love her writing!)

(Another side note: I had never seen this blog before, but a quick search through her site determined that she suffered from postpartum depression. Another connection, having been through it myself.)

The issue that she discusses in this blog post is harsh; the idea that talking about the struggles of motherhood, issues with your children, the BAD days, should be in fact discussed. Instead, many women out there are blissfully going about their ways, pretending that life is perfect while hiding the struggles that many of us -- MOST of us -- most likely are going through.

This was me after Lucas was born. Feeling alone. Far away from friends & family. Not knowing what the hell I was doing and wondering, constantly, how I was going to make this work. So I kept all my fears and my worries to myself because I didn't want to be deemed "ungrateful" for what I had. I WASN'T. Not even close. But all that bottling up did was make me feel even MORE alone and sent me into an awful bout with PPD. To this day, even with the hard days and nights -- the ones that make me want to crawl up into a ball in the corner of the room and burst into tears; the days where I want to run away and just have 24 hours alone, with my own thoughts, a shower and a fresh comfortable bed; the days where I think twice about leaving work on time because I know my toddler didn't sleep last night and I know that he's been fighting eating, which means tonight is going to be another frustrating struggle -- I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. ANYTHING. I love my kid more than life itself, and most days that love completely overwhelms me to a point of knocking me off my feet.

He is amazing. And awesome. And man, we tell ourselves every day, out loud, how blessed we are to have such an amazing kid in our life. How LUCKY we are to have this experience. This is not a lie. This conversation actually happens between me & my husband every. single. day.

But it doesn't change the fact that sometimes it's just really fucking hard. But for many, they are shamed into keeping these struggles to themselves. Talking about it is not OK. Renegade Mothering says otherwise, and this is why I was drawn to this post so much. That we should talk about these things, out loud, even if it means that someday our children might know how much of a pain in the ass they were at times:

I’m doing my kids a FAVOR by telling them the truth. That way, when my girl has her first baby and feels that death of self, maybe she won’t suffer quite like I did. Maybe she’ll know she can call her mom and talk to her about the real, the grit, the nasty, raw ugly truth.

And maybe I can help her with the truth of my own life.

Maybe my son will give me a call in 15 years and say “Mom, I think my wife is going through what you did. She won’t get out of bed and it’s scaring me. She says she doesn’t want the baby. Mom, what should I do? How did you get through this? I want to help her.”

And he’ll have the power and courage and knowledge to face the nasty, raw, ugly, life-saving gorgeous truth. That’s what I want to give.

My mom didn't talk to me about her struggles raising four kids practically solo. My dad worked -- a lot -- and was rarely around. It was just my mom for most of the time, and to be honest, I don't really have many memories of my dad around when I was little. It was college before they were divorced, but growing up there would be weeks before I would see him because he was always at work. Home after I went to bed. Back to work before I woke up. I KNOW this was not easy on my mom. How could it have been? But she never talked about it.

And not talking about it is what makes you feel alone. Lost. Depressed. Angry because you don't know what you are doing. I didn't feel like I could talk to my mom and because so many of my friends were going through infertility treatment, I didn't feel like I could talk to them, either. But I don't think that bottling anything up makes anything go away. Like RM said:

It may be harder, but it’s right. And it’s the only way to become free. Why waste our time devoted to a fantasy? Why waste our lives perpetuating lies, even though we have daily evidence of reality, of the truth? Why do we justify a constant disconnect between what we’re experiencing and what we portray to the world?

Is there a faster track to insanity?

I don't think that this necessarily related to just letting your children know how hard it is. I think it's important for other mom's as well, whether you are a foster mom, adopted mom, gave birth to your own or are actively trying to be a mother in many forms. Nobody writes honest books about the ups and down. Nobody tells you how hard this can truly be. BUT WE SHOULD. It's why I'm quick to offer my experiences when I see a friend struggling. It's why I don't feel bad complaining about the lack of sleep that I have gotten because my toddler wakes up screaming in the middle of the night (thank you, molars). It's why I vocalize my frustrations with Lucas throwing entire meals onto the floor without taking a bite. It's why I wrote about how sad & angry I was after having a baby. It's all so that maybe someone out there will feel less alone. Maybe they will feel like they have someone to relate to. Somebody who understands EXACTLY what they are going through at that moment. Shaming somebody for being vocal is the quickest way to make them push their feelings & sadness farther down, closer to the brink of crazy.

That's wrong.

Everybody is different. We all are at very different parts in our journey. But if I can find closeness with a few people who are in the same boat as myself every once in a while, then I'll continue to do it. A friend on facebook said it best the other day; I shouldn't need to qualify how much I love my child and how grateful I am for this experience every time we have a bad day. Bad day's happen.

You don't have to like it, or understand it. You can unfollow, or stop reading without hurting my feelings, or most likely anyone else in that situation. But if you're going stick around, then let's all be understanding. If someone is going to speak out, don't make them feel bad for doing so. Sure, there are those out there that ARE ungrateful. But think twice about if that is really the case before telling a mother who hasn't slept in three days to be thankful for what she has. Most likely, deep down, you know that she really is. You may not know how she is feeling, however, or if she is on the brink of something dangerous to herself.

Let's just lift each other up and leave the shaming elsewhere, mmkay?


Lauren said...

I spent a good hour or two on that site after you shared it...absolutely LOVING her honesty and the fact that I could relate to so much she had written. Thanks so much for sharing. Motherhood is hard. It sucks sometimes!! TRUTH.

Tsoniki said...

It's the qualifying that BUGS me. We all have horrible days, we have crappy days, we have days where we just want to be left alone! Of course we love our children, that doesn't mean they don't help make us crazy. LOL I always tell my friends they don't have to tell me they love their kids after they complain - I know they do.

Rhe Christine said...

amen sista!