It seems we’ve covered just about everything this month, talking about lost dreams with kiddos who have special needs and/or learning disabilities and lost babies through miscarriage. It’s been a tough month, but a great month. How wonderful that we have built a forum here where women can feel comfortable talking about our loss and grief and fears and moments of joy. This is what we wanted when we started this blog, but I can honestly say I never expected the kinds of responses we’ve received so thank you all for that.
But I wanted to talk about something today that it seems us women are seriously reluctant to talk about and in truth, I thought (when I was in the midst of the feelings) that it was just me, but I’ve come to learn that my feelings were all too common and it’s time for us to open up that can of proverbial worms. So I’m gonna be brutally honest with y’all, open up all the ugliness and it makes me nervous, but I have faith that you’ll all get it.
Now some of this I can’t speak to with any kind of authority because I’m an adoptive mom, I’ve never carried a child to term. But I’m going make a bold suggestion and say that those baby blues that people talk about…they’re not exclusively caused from hormones.
Let me explain. If you’ve followed the blog for long, you know that I literally became a mother over night. We had exactly 7 days to prepare our home for our two little girls and then suddenly they were there are my house, an infant and a toddler. We’d been through extensive training, I knew what to expect as far as possible problems with the girls, their adjustment, medical issues they could have, etc. I was as prepared as you can possibly be for all of the parenting issues, even the unique ones specific to our (then) foster-care situation. What I was not prepared for though was me and my own yuck coming to the surface.
I spent my entire adult life (and frankly some of my pre-adult life) wanting to get married and be a mom. Everyone who knew me knew that I wanted three things in life: be a wife, be a mother, be a writer. Two of those happened at nearly the same time, but as I mentioned in my previous blog, motherhood seemed an elusive dream, a butterfly I simply couldn’t catch. So imagine my shock when I didn’t settle into motherhood with grace and patience and well, joy. The fact was I’m not nearly as good at this as I thought I’d be. I’m more impatient, less tolerant, and less gentle than I expected. I love children and I especially love my children, but those early days (months) were dark – primarily for me.
I woke up in the mornings cringing and literally would look at the clock and count how many hours until naptime. I was terrified of being alone with them. And I was just miserable. Of course I was exhausted, emotionally and physically, but what the hell? I wanted these kids, why was I so damn unhappy? And the tears, Good Lord, the tears, my poor husband didn’t know what the hell was going on. My mother was a life-saver because she would come over and let me nap and she helped so much with just the day-to-day care of the girls while I found my footing. I didn’t know what was going on, all I knew was that I was unhappy and the guilt because of that ate at me day and night.
And I was plagued with questions…had I made a huge mistake? I couldn’t give them back, my goodness those precious babies had already been through too much. But I didn’t feel like I was providing a better life for them, I felt like I was fumbling in the dark, trying to find the light switch. I took care of their basic needs and I cuddled them and then I would have to sneak away to the bathroom so I could cry. I felt like I had ruined our lives. My husband and I fought like crazy – something we just don’t do. He was miserable and had no idea what was going on with me.
It wasn’t until I came through all of that darkness that I could sit back and analyze it and call it for what it was. Grief. Nothing sexier than that, it was just plain old grief and I for one, suspect all parents go through it no matter how they make their families. I resented the girls and the fact that my husband and I couldn’t just go to the movies or even run to Target. I resented them because my writing life all but dried up and I felt like my career was over. It wasn’t really resentment though, I know that now, it was merely me going through the stages of grieving my old life, my old marriage, the old me. Life changes, as the saying goes and nothing changes it more than children. But no body talks about the fact that it’s okay to be sad about letting go of what was. It doesn’t make you love your kids any less to be irritated that you have to consider them and you can’t just run an errand on your own. It’s a huge adjustment and it takes a while to settle into the new you.
Now I’m not saying that post-pardum depression isn’t real, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. What I am saying is that we all get those “baby blues” let’s just stop trying to think of cute terms to cover the feelings and talk about what it really is. Why should we have to silently feel guilty and wretched because we’re feeling something normal. Going through all of that didn’t make me a bad mom and it doesn’t make any of you a bad mom either.
So let’s talk about mommy grief. How was it for you? How did you get out of it? And did you recognize what it was when you were in the midst of it?