I am not a mother. I have never been pregnant or delivered a baby. I cannot possibly know the stress or joy of it because I have never been there.
I have, however, seen mothers of young children with struggle in their eyes. Mothers who come into my office and sheepishly fill out paperwork wishing that they were anywhere else but here. Mothers who sometimes come in with newborn in tow and anger in their eyes because they feel like they have failed at womanhood by being in a psychiatrist's office. Mothers who say they don't know why they feel like this, but know that it has been the case since shortly after their first or second or third or tenth child was born. They know that they hurt mentally and physically. They feel that saying that it started with the birth of their baby means they are blaming the child and blaming the child makes them a bad parent.
I see women who have been hurting for far too long because they don't want the world to think they are bad or unfit parents.
We perpetuate this "super mom" image of a woman who should be able to do all of the laundry, cook entirely organic dinners while simultaneously nursing a newborn, keep the house spotless, get Child 1 to soccer, Child 2 to ballet and Child 3 into the carseat without batting an eyelash, all while being irresistible for her husband who only wants to impregnate her with more babies, which she is excited about. In reality, dirty houses with pizza for dinner and exhaustion in the bedroom (if there is a partner at all) are far more likely.
AND THAT'S OKAY.
This comes up as someone who works in mental health, but also as a friend. Just in the last week, I have heard from several friends, from real life and the Internetz, who have finally started talking about their struggle with PPD or another postpartum mental problem. People who seemed to have it all together even to me, and I claim to be able to cut through the bullshit pretty quickly.
People like my friend Jen at The Martha Project (@thenextmartha) who wrote this incredible account of what she went through here. Jen is the snarkiest person I know. She manages to be as close to Super Mom as possible while still crafting the shit outta ordinary objects and making the Twitterbox giggle on the regular. Her story on Postpartum Progress (@postpartumprog) is an amazing example of how these problems paralyze even the most prepared mother and mother-to-be.
Seeing so many friends endure this makes me want to scream from the mountaintops that HELP IS AVAILABLE. But I don't have a mountain. This is Florida. I have a blog.
I want to scream that I'm your friend and all you have to do is ask. That I will find you someone who can help you. That even if we only know each other from the Interwebz, reach out and I will FIND SOMEONE who can help you. That if you think you're crazy, you're not crazy and you don't have to feel that way anymore. People who are truly "crazy" think they're totally normal. If you know something is not right, there is so much that can be done to help you.
No one is exempt from the exhaustion, frustration and tears that sometimes come with motherhood.
You aren't crazy. You aren't crazy. You aren't crazy.
You haven't done anything wrong.
As your friend, I'm telling you, you haven't done anything wrong.
What can I do to help?
As always kids, it's hip to be square (and imperfect), kids.