Why didn’t anyone tell me how much GUILT comes with motherhood?? I can’t escape it.. every day there is something to feel bad about, inadequate about. It seems like I’m always coming up short in one way or another. There’s the typical guilt, like I didn’t get the kids out of the house today, or I gave them hot dogs for dinner instead of cooking a gourmet, health conscious meal. But there is so much MORE guilt, guilt that I didn’t even know existed.
I even experience guilt over the fact that I am a mother at all.
When I first found out that I was expecting T nine years ago, someone close to me had just lost a baby, also their first. She was married, owned a beautiful home and had a great career. I was dating my baby’s dad, living at home and had been at a new job for a week. I found myself dreading having to tell her that I was pregnant. I was worried she would think to herself how is it fair that she did everything “right”, and there I was, doing it all wrong and being blessed with a child? Bring on the guilt.
Then I have friends tell me stories of their siblings, or friends, or coworkers who shun them and shut them out because they’ve successfully had a baby while the sibling/friend/coworker is trying, or cannot, or has lost. It seems like it’s a no-win situation. To be honest, I’ve never understood why one person’s pain has to take away from another person’s joy. I am very lucky to have never been in a position of struggling to conceive. I’ve never miscarried (that I know of) or had to go through fertility treatments. But I would like to think that if I were ever in those shoes I would act with no less joy or happiness if someone I loved was lucky enough to experience one of the greatest joys of life.
However, there is something to be said for counting one’s blessings and I think I need a little more of that in my life. Yesterday while I was feeling low, a friend reminded me of how lucky I am to have my three beautiful, precious, healthy children. That alone was something that I needed to hear, but then she went on to tell me that she recently found out that she may not ever be able to have her own. What a wake up call.
I know that Postpartum Depression is not my fault, and it’s not something that I (or any mother) can control, but reminding ourselves daily of the gifts we have been lucky enough to receive in this life can only help. I encourage my kids to do it when they are whining or feeling sorry for themselves, why shouldn’t I use the same trick on myself? I’ve read of people keeping daily journals and writing down what they are grateful for, or keeping a tally of all their blessings… I doubt I will do something quite so ambitious, but maybe just taking a few moments each day to think of all the wonderful things and people I have in my life would help lift me up. Because really, for me the PPD is a sense of being down and just not being able to get up again. (Yes, cue the hilarious old lady with her panic button…)
It’s a cloud that won’t go away. It just hangs there, ominously, over your head…
I realize that medication is only going to fight part of the battle for me. It won’t give me three extra hours of sleep each night; it won’t give me a pedicure or take me out for coffee with my friends. It won’t send me away with my husband, or clean up my messy house… I have to make changes too; I have to meet the meds halfway.
So, out with the guilt and in with being grateful and appreciating what I have. I cannot change anyone else’s situation, but I can find the good in my own and know that there are women out there who would give anything to be sleep deprived and falling apart if it meant that they could have the baby they so long for.
Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind, I am not alone.