To remember, to regret, to renew

This wasn't the post I had in mind for a Friday.  It's a little heavy right on the cusp of the weekend, but it's also heavy on my heart.  With that, here I am.  Talking again about a really hard time in my life, that, because of good reasons, I'm having to think about, rehash, and reexamine.  It's been refreshing.  It's been painful.  But I have to believe that there is good reason for it.

It's no secret, that motherhood didn't come easy for me.  I've talked about it a lot here. Motherhood was and remains that absolute hardest thing I've ever done.  The hardest job that I continue doing.  It has become, with and without regret, the biggest part of my identity.  I let it consume me.  For better or worse, I let it take over every aspect of my life.  Some days I regret that.  Some days I don't.  Yet, I have no problem identifying myself first and foremost as a mother.  I'm also a wife, a daughter, and a friend.  Yet, six years ago, I forgot all of those identities.  I checked them at triage, and went to the birthing center, bare, without identity.  I didn't know that at the time because I still felt very me, very Megan.  I thought I knew what to expect.  I know now that I had no idea.

Until this past week, I've spent little time dwelling on what my mothering identity crisis did to the other people in my life.  I guess I figured since I was the one who suffered with depression and anxiety, with complete and total self loathing, that I should get a free pass.  That I was free to do and say as I pleased.  That I was free to push people away.  I did that.  I was so consumed with fear, loathing, and disappointment that I totally and one hundred percent pushed out the people I loved.  I was a zombie.  I was emotionless.  I was completely checked out.  I was not the wife I promised to be.  I was not the friend I had proved to be.  I was not the daughter I knew I could be.

Six years ago, I couldn't see this.  Even today, it's taken someone else to point those actions out.  I have no defense other than to say that I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that I lived in that fog of anxiety and fear.  I'm sorry that I for months I held on to life, white knuckled, hoping and praying, by the hour, that I would not fail, would not fall apart, would not let go.  I'm sorry that I pushed so many people away.  That I wouldn't have taken help if it was offered.  That I was so lost and so focused on surviving at the same time, that I couldn't let anyone or anything else in.  It took everything I had just go through the motions and take care of my child.  To make sure she didn't cry.  To make sure she ate.  To make sure that I gave her everything, while giving myself nothing.  Because I felt she deserved more than I could give.  And that killed me, every single day.

It took me close to a year to figure out that my daughter loved me.  Isn't that crazy?  Isn't that the nuttiest thing you have ever heard?  It took me almost a year to acknowledge and understand, to accept that my infant daughter loved me.  That she loved me despite my failures, which if we are being honest, were self inflicted.  I had help with these realizations.  A good friend, who thank God, finally just said, that this shit (motherhood) was hard.  That I didn't have to love being a mom, as long as I loved my daughter.  Could I even admit such a thing?  At that point I had no choice.

Once I could accept that my daughter was never going to sleep through the night, that she was never going to latch on, that I was going to have to formula feed; I could accept this job of motherhood.  I could accept that despite my best efforts some days were going to be crap. Some days were going to be spent in pajamas.  Some days were going to be filled with Yo Gabba Gabba and goldfish crackers.  That some days, I was still going to be holding on with white knuckles.  

On Tuesday I got my hair done, and my hairdresser just had a baby six weeks ago.  Six weeks.  The sweet spot.  Where it's still so new.  She was talking about her pants, which were never as tight as they were now.  She was talking about getting back to her old size.  Try as I might, I couldn't help but offer her this:  If you want your old body back get it, but it's only been six weeks.  It's ok.  But if I could offer you any advice it would be to enjoy your baby now, at this age, in this stage, because it doesn't last forever.  Because six weeks is a blink of the eye.  It doesn't last forever, and nothing, not even your jeans size matters much when your baby turns one, or two, or twenty.

I have a lot of regrets about that first year as a mother.  I wasn't blissful.  I was angry.  I was sad.  I was disappointed in myself.  I was in such a fog that quite honestly I don't remember a lot about my first six weeks with my first born.  I don't remember a lot about the first six months.  I can't get that time back, and that is a huge regret.  I also was a horrible wife, and not just because I didn't clean or cook, but because I froze out the Hubbs.  Because in my mind, he couldn't possibly understand what I was going through.  I shut out my mom too, not really telling her all my truths.  I was too embarrassed.  And I shut out some really close friends.  I made it impossible to be my friend.  I made it damn near impossible to help me. Because that's what happens sometimes.  When you can't see yourself, or your actions. When you are so deep into it, that you feel like you are blind.

It's taken me a long time to get to this new identity.  To shed that skin of the anxious ridden and depressed mommy, and to live in this new skin.  Don't get me wrong, some days I'm still holding on white knuckled praying for grace.  I don't think those days will ever go away.  But I don't need perfection these days.  I don't need a clean house, I don't need a shower, I don't even need my kids to eat their vegetables.  I just need to remember that my children love me anyway.  That they love me always.  Even if I'm royally effing up.  I need to remind myself that every day is a fresh start.  That every moment is teachable.  That every moment is a gift. Even the moments where one kids is crying, the other just peeped their pants, and the pots are boiling over.  The mornings where no one in the entire house can find their shoes.  The nights when not a single child will fall asleep before Greys Anatomy.  All of it.  The good the bad, the incredibly ugly, is a gift.

Motherhood is hard.  It may be the hardest thing that I ever do.  That's all I ever needed to know about motherhood.  Plain and simple.  That in motherhood the best laid plans are the ones that never come to fruition.  In motherhood it's not always going to go your way.  In motherhood you have to be flexible.  You have to have so much patience you can taste it.  In motherhood you have to pray for grace, and humility, and wine.  That motherhood will tear you down and build you up again.  

To remember is to regret, but it's also to renew.  I'm in the process of trying that last one. I can't go back to that person I was before I was a mother.  It's not that she doesn't exist, or that she isn't there.  She is, but she's changed.  Some may say for the better, some may say for the worse.  It doesn't matter.  I'm here.  I survived.  White knuckles and all.

8 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful post, and it really speaks to me. I struggled a lot in the beginning with anxiety and depression, because I felt like I have no clue what I was doing and had no control over anything. I worried about naps, nursing, toys, whatever. I couldn't leave the house sometimes because it ruined our "schedule." It was tough! And I know it affected my daughter. A great thing a friend told me, before I even had kids, was that during a bad moment she had to tell herself "This is it. This is your life now, love it or not." And it's true. Once you're a mom, you're a mom. I do agree that you don't have to love it all the time, but it doesn't mean you don't love your kids. This job is tough. The hardest thing I've ever done.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can really relate with a lot of this. Thank you for writing it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This really brought a tear to my eye. Oh mama, I am so sorry. I suffered from severe depression during pregnancy followed by PPD, a depression more intense than anything I've ever felt in my life, and I've hit some very low lows. It took me around a year too to realize my daughter loved me (honestly, sometimes I still wonder) and it took me 6 months to love and feel a bond with her. I was always the best mother I could be, but the emotion just wasn't there for me. It was a really hard time. But what makes me even sadder is to see you apologize for your feelings and the way you acted. I suppose it's not a bad thing to apologize to people for the way you acted, but don't feel guilty. It wasn't really you, and you were going through something that others usually can't understand. Thank you for sharing all this, I feel inspired to share my own story.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Apologies can be forgiven. Behavior can be forgiven. Trust and bonds can be mended [usually with chocolate and Starbucks :) ]. Continuing to live in regret is often never forgiven. More importantly, acknowledgement by both parties is more than half the battle. I think its time to build back and renew. It can be done.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This sounds just like me. Just.Like.Me!! You are amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh how I can relate. I think back and I can't remember so much. I was living in my own personal world where everything was done to me. I walked around in a world where I felt bogged down by everything. I never thought I would get my life back. Sometimes I still feel that way. Sometimes I see glimpses of it and it makes me happy yet sad. Thankfully I have wonderful memories that I get to play with in my mind that make me feel hopeful.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think this is something that not enough women know before they have their babies. We are told about how amazing it all is and how you fall in love with the baby the moment we see them ... but the truth of the matter is, it isn't always that way. So when it doesn't happen we think we are freaks, that there is something wrong with us, etc.

    I don't have all the answers and I'm not even going to pretend that I do. But what I can say is: be kind to yourself! and remember that you are doing the best you can, no one can be a better mom for your kids than you!

    ReplyDelete