The rear view mirror. We use it every time we get into a car to drive. It is our guide for what may be behind us, so that we can glance back to change lanes or be prepared for anything unexpected that may be coming up behind us. The mirrors on our car are meant to help us, direct us and keep us safe, but they are not mean for us to stare at what was left behind, or the danger becomes what can happen in front of us.
First time mommy-hood, such a wonderful feeling! From the moment you find out you are pregnant you begin blowing up the Pinterest board with girl room ideas, boy room ideas, gender neutral, whatever you can possibly gain inspiration from, you Pin that sucker. Next comes all the books that tell you everything you will ever need to know about becoming a Mom and the wondrous joys that lie ahead of you and while yes there may be hard moments, that precious angel you are holding is worth every last bit of morning sickness, swelling, discomfort, labor pain, long nights and everything else you can think of, and yes they are right, both of my girls are completely worth it, but my question is where is these books are the sections for moments that no mom talks about? Where is the real, down to earth, and honest to goodness truth for some of us moms that don’t believe in the skittle crapping unicorn that is their version of Motherhood?
I know it may sound stupid, but the most accurate parenting book I have seen is called “My Kids Are A**Holes.” The person who wrote this book also has an awesome blog called Baby Sideburns, while yes to some people I know you may read that title and just think to yourself “How could you ever think that a book titled that would be an honest depiction of parenting?” Well because it is. Yes you may not curse or be the biggest fan of it, but good gravy there are times that I have sat back and said to myself, “dang my kids are really annoying, I mean REALLY ANNOYING…” I read this book on my way to Hawaii and did not stop dying of laughter the entire way through, thinking to myself, “WHY COULDN’T I HAVE FOUND YOU A YEAR AGO??” I spent so much time reading and researching all of these ways that I need to be a parent, hearing all the things you are going to go through and how to handle it, when truly I should have been reading books from parents who didn’t sneeze their child out of the womb with no labor pain, got to a point of walking around in yoga pants and a sports bra, because the second you get dressed some bodily fluid is going to come out of somewhere, felt like telling Mickey Mouse where he can stick his Clubhouse, along with wondering if those people truly never pop their kid in front of technology.
The things I have learned from my very inexperienced two years of motherhood are this:
1. Plan your labor and delivery all you want, the more you plan, the more your hopes get up for this perfect, beautiful little love song of a delivery, where everyone is signing in unison and your child comes out smiling, un-medicated, and ready to latch on to you to breastfeed right away, the more you are risking them to be crushed under the weight of your beautifully written out birth plan goal.
My first labor was more or less like nails on a chalkboard, while the Hot Dog Song from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is on repeat. I was called on Friday around 1 PM and told to come in after blood work came back that concerned them. At 3 PM I was induced and at 6:07 AM I had Grace Demeaux Ross! What made it so miserable??? It was 6:07 AM MONDAY MORNING!!!! That’s right, 3 days of having every doctor in that joint get a long look at my business, with everything you could shove up me, shoed up me, to a point where my husband asked if we threw a coax up there is we would get better cable. They gave me the epidural at 2 CM they felt so bad for me and still the most dilated I became was 3 CM, HELLO C-SECTION!! Seriously, birth plan, what birth plan. The only time things went to plan was with Tory who was a scheduled C-Section and was born at the time she was supposed to be, but still both pregnancies were so stinking miserable, we cut those tubes so fast it’s crazy, and I told my husband to looked over there and make sure they are clamping down on those suckers nice and tight!
2. Even if you have a dream baby who sleeps through the night, is super awesome, barely cries and their poop smells like a dandelion field in April, at some point that child will have their horror movie switch flip on. There is no warning, no gradual progression of bratness, you got nothing. One day you wake up and ask your child if they want the same juice, fruit and oatmeal they have been eating since they were able to eat and the next thing you know it’s like the end scene of Carrie at the prom, and junk just got real in your house. You are sitting there watching this happen not knowing what to do and it hits like a freight train and the next thing you know, you regain consciousness enough to start cleaning the oatmeal out of her hair and yours while you say forget it and give her some cookies just to make sure she at least ate something, because its apparently illegal to not feed your precious angel baby. Anyone who acts like their child is perfect is that mom on social media telling you how you are doing everything wrong. Which brings me to point number 3.
3. YOU ARE DOING EVERYTHING WRONG! Things that you didn’t know you sucked at until another mom told you that you did:
- Putting on a diaper – don’t even get me started with the fact that you use disposable diapers
- Wiping them – apparently there is a way to wipe their butts that isn’t wrong, but you haven’t found it
- Feeding – I did everything under the sun to try and breastfeed and I couldn’t, but if you didn’t breastfeed you must not have tried hard enough, and FYI breast milk ensures brain development far superior to any other thing in your life. You will most likely cure cancer, find proof of life on mars and create the first unicorn, while all of us formula fed kids bask in your glory… Sorry formula kids, I guess Steve Jobs wasn’t that great! By the way I know not all moms are like that, but for real there is always that one mom.
- Anything else you can think of! I have apparently completely screwed up my daughter for life by allowing her to suck her pacifier that fell on the ground, laying on the floor with our dog has obviously killed her twice, piercing her ears, OH GOOD GRAVY this alone has scared her for life and those holes never close up you know!
- Oh you work, well great job on letting someone else raise your kid…. I am sorry, what do you call school??? So you are telling me that you hold little Johnnies hand all through the day and watch what he does when he goes off to school? Because I can tell you, that may cause some emotional damage in middle school…. To you.
I swear had someone warned me about mommy wars and the fact that I am wrong at everything I may have posted even more on social media just to be that person.
4. Sometimes the only way to shower so you do not smell like a rotting corpse that has been ravaged by zombies is to pop your kid in front of a TV. No my childs brain has not gone to mush yet, actually she is learning a lot from that miserable little mouse, but still, I have a 2 year old and an 11 week old, and I don’t know about you, but I think my office and my husband enjoys me smelling like almond butter over formula, spit up and poop.
5. You will get in the car and drive without the kids, singing along to the radio, only to realize you have been listening to the Sophia the First or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Playlists for the past hour, and now realize you know all the songs, can name the exact episode and where in that episode it is being sung, and remembering a time when you could ride in the car thinking you are super cool with your sound system and rolled down windows living the care free life. Now that sound system plays the same songs over and over again, the windows are rolled down because you know someone has something nasty in their diaper, and even if you are by yourself you can only carry one passenger because the ginormous car seats in the back. Oh and FYI, you will find that common bond with other parents, no lie my boss and I went to eat at Chipotle and sang half the songs to the Sophia the First soundtrack there and back and have been humming them around the office since, crazy, yes, but that little princess has some catchy tunes!
There are so many more things, but just like those million books cant sum it up, neither can I, not because I don’t want to try, but mostly because I lost people like my husband after the second sentence and at this point I am typing for myself to have some fun, keep myself busy, and hide out from the nastiest diaper I have ever smelt come out of a 12.5 pound baby, that I somehow managed to trick my husband into changing….. and we have discovered she wasn’t just wet, so yeah, I think hiding is about to cease as I hear him begin to scream “BABE I AM NOT CHANGING THIS, OH MY GOSH ITS ON MY HAND, I NEED YOUR HELP…” Oh the joys of parenthood and the marriage changing dialogue that comes with it, but that’s for another day!
I have two of the most precious gifts I could ever be given, their names are Demi and Tory. I am obsessed with my girls. I love their little personalities, I love the way the laugh and smile, I love everything about them. I am that mom who blows up Instagram and Facebook with hundreds of pictures of my girls and is always beaming with joy for my sweet babies. I am that mom who puts up that perfect little life with her sweet little miracles all over the place, because that is what people need to see, no one wants to know the hardships on the other side of that computer screen, and we sure as anything don’t want to talk about it.
I remember so vividly the day I snapped with my first daughter, the day I had no joy, the day I looked at her and wished I could take her back. I called my husband who was in Pensacola for work and begged him to come home, I couldn’t look at her. She wasn’t crying, she wasn’t moody, she wasn’t anything, she just laid there looking at me, and I didn’t want her.
Fast-forward 22 months and my second daughter Tory is born. Surely this is something that I should be able to handle, I mean we have been there before right? I know all the symptoms, I know all the signs and we know what do to do to take care of it. It hit like a freight train, but this time, I took it out on my oldest, instead of the newest little one. My oldest daughter was hit with so much change and now her mommy couldn’t handle being around her again. Everything she did bothered me, I was annoyed at everything and couldn’t help but be so angry at her all the time. My husband kept saying he doesn’t recognize who I am because I am so angry all the time, not even sad, just angry.
My baby is 11 weeks old. I am still battling emotions and the anger every single day. I have often wondered why this is something we don’t talk about, why this is something just swept under the rug and pushed aside. I think some of it can be that we are so afraid that we will be seen as ungrateful for this beautiful little miracle we have been given, while so many crave to be a mother, I think the other part is that you just don’t talk about those sort of things, but why not?
Could you imagine the impact just feeling like you can openly talk about postpartum depression would have on so many moms? Letting them know they aren’t alone, you are not crazy, you are not a horrible person for thinking what you are and its ok to say it out loud so you can get help. I wish I could go back and look at myself after my first pregnancy and say all of those things, just to help me realize I wasn’t crazy or a horrible mom. I have to talk to myself daily and tell me those things even now, when I just want to disappear in the night and leave it all behind, when I struggle with everything that comes with being a mom of two girls.
If I could say anything to myself before the girls or after it would be this:
It is ok, being a mom is hard. People acting like it is easy or they have it all together, they don’t. You are going to experience so many emotions, so many thoughts and are going to think you are the worst person on this planet, you’re not. You are not the first person to have these thoughts or experience these emotions, and you won’t be the last. It’s called postpartum depression for a reason, you just had so much change in your body and now in your life, it will never be just you and your husband again, but those sweet little miracles are so worth it. You are going to struggle, you are going to want to run away, you are going to wish you could turn back time and make it all go away, you are going to look at that little face and sometimes you may hate it, but don’t allow those emotions to take you over. TALK TO SOMEONE. Know you are not alone. Don’t listen to the age old saying of “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” or “be grateful for what you have,” you are grateful, but you are also going through something so huge right now, and something that can be so dangerous if you don’t just talk about it. People who are telling you that have never walked through this, and you cannot hate them for it, you have to understand they do not know what is happening to you right now. It is ok to go lock yourself in a dark room and cry and scream, it’s ok to be angry, it is not ok to let it consume you and take away these precious moments you have so little time to enjoy. Don’t be ashamed of your feelings, be honest about them. Don’t be afraid of what people will think, what matters right now is not what they think of you, but getting you better so you can enjoy these babies. You are a wonderful mom, and the first step in being a wonderful mom is taking care of yourself, so do just that, take care of yourself. Talk to your husband, he is there for a reason, and he wants to be there for you. Talk to other moms, I can promise you, you will find someone who has walked through it too. Don’t be ashamed, be proud that you are taking action. Now stand up and do something about it, admit you have it, or it will consume you. You have to much good in your life to allow this dark place to take over. Seek help, be open and start fighting this now.
I still have my crazy thoughts, but they are less now. I still get angry, but I go to another room and just let it out but refuse to take it out on my babies if I can help it. I so wish this was something we weren’t ashamed to talk about. I wish moms were open about their emotions, their fears, their struggles, but that doesn’t fit this world we live in where our stories are so perfectly and strategically told on social media, where we try and be what the internet and other moms tell us we should be without realizing our experiences, our lives, our kids are all different and we are just trying to be the best mom we can be. Instead we sit back post our perfect pregnancy and motherhood experiences, waiting and hoping for someone to reach out and dig deeper.