This is a good news/bad news post.
Always start with the bad news.
The bad news is you are crazy.
Proof that you are crazy:
-You feel like screaming. Often.
-You can’t remember people’s names. This would be OK, except you gave birth to them and they have half your DNA…
-You just locked yourself in a dirty bathroom and cried. You can’t remember why.
-You have a hard time sleeping. Sometimes it is because you hear random crying. Sometimes it is because you need to pee every 10 minutes. The strange thing is this happens even if nobody is around. In fact it is now impossible to sleep alone.
-You eat chocolate like it is necessary food group. In fact, you may have successfully convinced yourself that it is actually a healthy legume.
-Jumping jacks scare you.
-But not as much as trampolines.
-You just repeated “that” phrase your mom always used and you swore you never would utter. And it felt strangely satisfying.
-Sometimes you hate everyone.
-The last time someone said they hated dinner you burst into tears and called them selfish. They are six years old and you were trying to feed them brussel sprouts…
-Three days ago you got in a fight with someone. On social media. Someone you have never met. It ruined your day. You can’t remember what it was about.
-You feel really good about yourself for doing basic things like…flossing. Then you eat chocolate as a reward.
This list can actually go on for pages and pages and pages. But we are dealing with a word limit here.
In fact, some of the “crazy” feelings that women have during pregnancy, postpartum and while raising children are not funny at all.
It isn’t funny to be filled with rage.
It isn’t funny to get seriously anxious over things that don’t matter and over which you have no control.
It isn’t funny to be sleep deprived for weeks, months, or years.
It isn’t funny to feel hopeless or depressed.
Women feel these feelings and they are hard. We sometimes feel totally out of control. This too is hard.
I want to tell you something.
The good news is, everybody else is crazy too.
Pretend that we are friends and I am someone who really loves you and someone whom you respect and like.
We are in a room together. There is a soft couch, some natural sunlight streaming through a window. The temperature is perfect and you are relaxed.
You just told me about some of the above feelings that you are having. You confessed some of the worst thoughts you have had that make you ashamed. Maybe you shudder when you think about the birth of your child. Maybe you love your baby but think you will seriously lose your mind if they don’t sleep for a minimum of four hours tonight. Maybe you never thought you could be as angry as you found yourself with your toddler the other day. Maybe you said something awful to the person you love more than anyone in the world.
Pretend you just confessed this to me.
I want you to know what I would do next. I would wrap you in a big warm hug and I would tell you that you are normal. You are a woman, and while you are special and unique and incredible — these feelings/worries/bad moments happen. They happen to the best of us.
These things that we do and say and feel that we are ashamed of – they make us human and normal.
Don’t give up trying, but don’t you dare believe that you are bad or awful. Don’t you dare think that you are alone.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THE CRAZY.
When I talk to moms who know, moms who are older, moms who have been in the trenches and lived to see a new day – they all say the same thing.
They have been there too. You are not alone!
They felt those feelings and they cried hot, hopeless tears and they begged for mercy that didn’t come right away.
And they survived. And they were stronger for it.
They wouldn’t go back. Not ever. But they want you to know that you are not alone.
You are just a mother. Being a mother has many facets that nobody can really explain to you until you have the distinct pleasure of experiencing them yourself.
Before being a mom, life had ups and downs. There were hard times and good times. It was nice, but bearable. You knew you could do it.
If your life was a landscape it would look like this:
Notice the hills and valleys and also that lovely, well paved and neat road that runs through them all. It’s a nice scene, isn’t it?
Now your life, after having kids, looks like this:
Big peaks. Huge. The peaks are those moments like holding that baby for the first time, or the first time they said, “I love you,” or walked across the room.
The downside is the valleys. They are lower than you ever imagined.
So deep you don’t know how you can climb out.
These are the times when you haven’t slept in months, or someone you gave birth to tells you that they hate you, or you fear for your child’s life, safety, and sanity because of their struggles.
You had no idea that there were lows this low.
And the road with the nice pavement and neat line down the middle delineating where everything and everybody should go? It is nowhere in sight.
If we were in a room together having this chat, I would tell you that you are crazy. And that is OK. The crazy is part of it. It is normal. You are normal.
I would tell you that we are all in this together and we have to lean on each other, lift each other up, ask for help, receive help, give help, and forgive — ourselves and everyone else.
Some will say, “But Sarah, this isn’t all normal. Some women need more than a hug and some kind words to pull themselves out of these valleys. Some need professional intervention.”
And I would agree with you. It is OK to need help.
But I hear far too often women talking about feelings, thoughts, and emotions that are NORMAL to have as though they have somehow failed by having them.
These women haven’t failed. Did I mention that they are normal? Imperfection is NORMAL.
The problem is that we feel like we aren’t allowed to actually HONESTLY talk about this and share and hold hands and love each other. What has failed is support and unity. This is where the failure lies.
It has instead been replaced by perfect pictures as displayed on instagram.
Instagram woman just whipped this up with some fresh veggies she picked in her organic garden and then fed it to her thankful children who loved it because they LOVE vegetables. Then they said thanks and cleaned their rooms.
That woman who does this has it all together, right?
Nope. She is also insane. Just like you. She just has a better filter on her camera.
So, the bad news is, you ARE crazy. The good news is – so is everybody else.
You know what else?
Those mountain peaks sure are rough climbing.
But you can’t beat the views.
Life is good. But it isn’t perfect.
Sit back. Grab a friend. Speak the truth. Lift others. Be lifted.
And enjoy some of the ride. But don’t be too ashamed when you hate the ride either. You are normal. It’s OK to admit it.