I saw this article about “mom rage” yesterday on The Tot and it really had me thinking a lot about what we, as mothers – working outside the home or not – have suffered during this past year of incredible turmoil. Over 2 million women have had to leave the workforce, childcare centers and schools shut down leaving those lucky enough to have a job balancing child care, telecommuting AND trying to be a teacher to bored, restless children. Mothers who don’t typically work outside the home also suffered with no breaks, their spouse or partner possibly now working from home full time (its OWN stress!) and OH YEAH, the constant threat of a potentially fatal disease at every turn!!!! No wonder we all feel a little bit…”ragey”.
The other day I told Andrew I was going to get a coffee down the street and he looked at me in all seriousness, concern in his eyes, and said “you ARE going to come back, right?” Even I, one of the luckiest people on earth during this time period, have hit my breaking point. I have full time child care, my business is actually busier than ever, we are all healthy and have a beautiful new home. ZERO to complain about, obviously. And yet it HAS been hard – having a baby during this pandemic, after such a difficult road to get her here, really brought me to my knees concerning my mental health. Newborns are hard on a good day, add in a pandemic, a toddler at home, a job and two bouts of mastitis and I was steamrolled very quickly by post-partum depression to the level I never expected. Luckily I reached out for help and got it in spades. Not everyone has those medical and mental health resources, which is a whole other bag of worms we need to address.
But something I’ve come to realize recently is that I may still be struggling with post-partum depression, even as we approach Emma’s 1st birthday in a mere MONTH (how????). I got through the real weeds of sleep depravation, breastfeeding and caring for a newborn and on the other side of the really dark stuff I was feeling, but I’m still not “right”, and I think it’s from this pandemic lifestyle. I am exhausted from everything, bored and yet overwhelmed by duty and to-do lists, wanting to simultaneously get in my car and drive away but also fiercely protect these little people I love. And my fuse is SO short- ugh, SO SHORT. I get frustrated so easily with my “seemingly teenager overnight” Henry, who is struggling in his own way from all of this change and isolation and acting out more than normal (but also maybe that’s just his age?). I admitted to my therapist, and Andrew, that motherhood feels heavy right now, where it used to feel… lighter and more joyful. And apparently, I’m not alone! Praise be! We have taken on SO much for SO long and so yeah, here we are – with frustration, rage and sadness bubbling over the edge of our mental brims.
The issue is, we all tend to feel guilty about our collective struggle. We’re MOMS, we’re tough and should be able to do anything for our kids, right? Wrong. We’re humans first and foremost, and individual people that need care and compassion too. It’s hard to do, but necessary right now. We put so many people before our own selves, and most of the time, we’re happy to do it and capable of finding a balance on some level. But the scales have tipped, ladies, and all bets are off. I’m here to tell you (and myself), it’s okay to not be okay right now. It’s okay to feel crappy about whatever it is that’s weighing you down. It’s okay to take an extra 10 minutes to just sit alone in your car in a parking lot and cry, or scroll Instagram or close your eyes. We’re ALLLLLLLLL doing it!
Andrew asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day and I said “a day alone”. He asked what I wanted to do. I said “I want to not know- have no plan- maybe get a pedicure, go shopping, sit alone somewhere and have a long coffee and read- I want FREEDOM and SPACE”. He thinks I’m a little nuts, but you know what, it’s the biggest gift I can give myself and that he can give to me right now. Autonomy. Breathing room. No schedule. Just me.
I hope you are all taking care of yourselves and reserving some space and time for your own mental health. It’s tough out there, but as we always do, we’ll get through it.
Feel free to discuss and chat and vent in comments (but keep it kind, ok?)