From the moment you tell someone you're pregnant you start getting advice. Information on what other people did, advice on what you should do, judgement on what you've already decided to do (because you haven't yet learned that you should just smile and nod at this unsolicited, unwanted advice). You get plenty of "you'll see"s and "you just wait"s. It's infuriating. At least for me it was. Now I understand that most people are trying to be helpful, and it's hard to put everything you want to say about motherhood into words. You're limited by rush of emotions that overtake you and make your uterus jump when you see a really cute pregnant woman or a tiny squishy baby. You're limited by the fact that you can't put into words how much you can love your child. You're limited by the fact that your brain is screaming "You can't admit that's how you felt when you had a newborn - they'll think you're crazy and/or a terrible mom!"
I got a ton of advice and words of wisdom and possibly some judgement from fellow mommies. I did not get a lot of brutal honesty. I wish I had. Being a mother is hard. Like, cry at night because you're pretty sure you made a huge mistake because obviously if you had any business having a baby you would be able to get her to sleep/eat/stop spitting up/lay somewhere other than in your arms for 5 freaking seconds. Being a mother (parent) is terrifying and exhausting and, at least for me, up until about a month ago I felt like I was a complete failure. No one tells you about that. In all of the advice, no one says "Hey, sometimes you might sob in the shower because you're pretty sure you're life is over and your freedom is gone and someone is going to call CPS on you because your house is a mess and your baby won't stop crying and you're pretty sure it's because she hates you and knows that you're going to completely screw up her life. That's normal and okay." I wish someone would have told me how overwhelming being a mother was.
I suffered from Post-Partum Depression and Post-Partum Anxiety (PPD/PPA). I was so overwhelmed. I felt like I was a failure at everything. When I was staying home with Clara I was overwhelmed. When I went back to work I was overwhelmed. I was exhausted, my house was a mess, it was all I could do to keep up with minimal cleaning, cook something that resembled a meal, and make it through each day. It's a constant struggle to spend quality time with Clara and Derek and get the huge list of things that have to be done each day. Being a mother is overwhelming. Derek helps so much. He cleans and cooks and does what he can - there just aren't enough hours in the day and even if he did everything that needed to be done I felt like a failure because I couldn't do it. Being so overwhelmed led me to feel anxious all the time. I was constantly on edge. I was also full of rage. I could get so mad and it scared me. I knew something was wrong and I needed help. I went to a therapist and she assured me that most people's houses are messy when they have a baby. That all of my fears were normal. Being overwhelmed was normal. And it was also a huge secret. I was definitely suffering from PPD/PPA, but fortunately I didn't need medication to deal with it - I just needed an outlet. I needed someone to talk to, and vent to, and I needed a safe place to say that there were times when I was scared that I'd made a mistake.
Women don't talk about this. We don't say these things to each other even though most of us feel them at some point. We talk about what a joy motherhood is (and it is), we talk about being "super busy", and then we talk about the Pinterest projects we plan to do. I don't even look at Pinterest anymore. It makes me feel inadequate. I don't have time to cook or sew or project or whatever. Most of the time Clara's clothes aren't even hung up much less organized in a closet with a system and color-coordinated baskets. My dogs are desperate for love and a good nail clipping. I have 100 more things that need to be done than those that have been done. Based on what I hear from others, I view myself as a complete failure.
But here's the thing - most other people's houses (or at least one room and every closet) are messy. Most moms feel like failures in one aspect or another. My baby is happy and healthy and clothed and diapered and fed and loved. What else do I want? Well, what I want is a maid, but that's not really in the budget. What's the point of this whole post? I guess honesty. My house is messy. I don't have time to get 90% of the things I want to done. I'm exhausted. But I'm not a failure. I'm just a normal mom. The next time a friend gets pregnant or wants to get pregnant I fully intend to tell them how wonderful it is, and then tell them that it's incredibly hard and that they can call if they ever find themselves crying in the shower because they're a failure and I'll be happy to show them the current state of my sink and let them know that they're not alone and they're not a failure. They're just a mom. And their baby and I think they're damn good at it.