“After Gwen gave birth, she changed from Anne of Green Gables to Beowolf…And I don’t really blame her; years of not sleeping and putting your own needs third will do that to a person.
But then, like the Hulk returning to David Banner, slowly, over time, she returned. One morning she woke up, blinked a few times, and said, ‘Whoah, where have I been?’ And that was it; my Gwen was back. God forbid we had divorced; I’d have missed out on a lifetime of loving her” (p.161).
It hits home hard because I really have noticed how much of an overly emotional mom I am, and for good reason. At the risk of sounding like a self-absorbed teenage girl, woeful of her first-world problems, I have to say it: Being a mom is so hard.
And it is. Just imagine a 24/7 schedule packed with frustrations and challenges to your patience and mental swiftness. Imagine taking your toilet-training toddler to the bathroom – a full 40 minutes after you’d been trying to lull her to sleep – to have her be so excited about the creativity of her bowels that she stands up after every push, squeals with delight over her dirty work and goes running off, not once, but 7 times.
Each time she jumps herself up off the potty she has suddenly decided she prefers to the toilet, you’re losing your patience over that little poo-smeared butt running off to spread it’s “creativity”. Your voice starts to rise, and angry, tired, when-will-you-go-the-funk-to-sleep mommy starts to appear. Then you realize that you’re sending a terrible message to your little one, who is just proud of herself and trying to do the very thing you have been working on teaching her to do, and you feel like a big, nasty monster for getting upset over it.
What is wrong with you??
You try to calm your nerves and reign your emotions in to applaud her efforts for recognizing her needs, asking to go, and making this “wondrous” thing happen (which, to a parent eager to move on from diapers, it is).
Moments like this happen over and over, every day. Yes, there are awesome, soul-filling moments of bonding, excitement, and pure love and joy, but there are also a lot of moments where you want to scream and throw things for something so little as your husband forgetting to put a garbage bag back in the bin after emptying it. Why am I such an extremely emotional mom?
Hormones. Stress. Lack of sleep. All of the above and then some bring out the worst in my mama self. And that makes me even more upset.
Upset at myself for getting upset. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?
I feel like I’m failing at the one thing I wished for and waited so long to do. I just knew I was going to be an amazing mother. As the preschool teacher who could sit for hours (literally) comforting a child who was lashing out and screaming in my ear, with nothing but patience and calm, how could I not be a mom who could hold it together?
It drives me crazy how crazy I am. And how much I recognize it and try to control myself, but keep getting dragged back in to the intensity of my emotions.
That’s why I keep going over this quote. It gives me hope that the crazy hormones, lack of sleep, and overwhelming emotions I’m experiencing now might someday disappear and allow me to feel like the person I used to be. It reminds me to hold on.
In the mean time, I need to do something. I have to let go of this idea that it’s going to resolve it self in time. That it will all be better after I wean and my hormones level out. After Z starts sleeping through the night. After potty training is complete. When mealtimes aren’t such a disaster. When I purge everything unnecessary in my house. When we get a dishwasher that actually works. When, when, when.
I keep trying to take care of myself, to force myself to feel more like the me I so desperately miss. And yes, I do think time will help, but I can’t wait for that. I need to feel better now, before I push away everyone and everything I care about. Before I snap from the pressure that keeps building up inside of me. The intense anger and sadness that’s a staple there, sitting in my chest, waiting for a challenging moment to burst out of me and at whoever is unlucky enough to be around.
So I made the call. I talked to my doctor. I asked for some blood tests, to see if my iron stores and other important factors are low, and I’m waiting for them to come back. Chatting to some friends about their own similar situations and how depleted iron stores have affected their mood and irritability, I feel like this could definitely be an issue for me. Nourishing another life outside of yourself, from your own body, for nearly two years surely has an impact on your own health. Especially when you’ve slipped down a slope of rushed and poorly put-together meals (working and being a stay-at-home mom makes housekeeping and properly planning meals a thousand times harder, it turns out).
I’m gotten a referral from a friend of some great counsellors and alternative health professionals to talk to. When I was going through a tough time in the past, I saw a counsellor who helped me address what was really at the root of my feelings. Just opening up to someone who had the experience and training to know what to say, what to ask, and who I could sit in their office and just blubber out my feelings without feeling guilty for bringing down a friend, and without worrying about being judged by those you love, this helped me tremendously to move on. To untie the emotional knots inside of me.
I have to admit, I feel really apprehensive to say anything. To share this with you. To open myself up. To be honest, I’m not even sure if I will publish this post. I hope I can find the courage, because if you are here, feeling any resemblance of these feelings I’m finding it hard to control, I want to be the push you need to seek help. I want you to know that you’re not alone. That it’s both normal and unnecessary to feel like this, when there is so much on your plate, and not enough time or energy to eat it all up. [Addition: I’m about to publish it, and even while I’m not feeling so low at the moment, things are on the up, I know they can just as easily fall back down. I’m still going to make the effort to take care of myself before things fall back down again, for myself and for my family.]
I want you to know that help is out there. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. I want you to know that there might be, and probably is, a real reason behind these feelings that could be as easy to resolve as taking an iron supplement or sitting down for a chat.
I can ask for help, and you can, too. We can get through this, and back to the people we were before.
Actually, scratch that. Becoming a mother changes you. But we have the power to focus on making this change an amazingly positive one, and let go of the negative. We can’t completely go back to being the people we were before, but we can become even better people than we were before we became mothers, because we became mothers.