Being a mother is probably the most exciting, ruthless, exhausting, rewarding, terrifying, out of body experience you could possibly have. Whoever said that multi-tasking is a dying art and isn’t a real thing has never had a child, needed to get out of the door at a certain time and found spit up, food, vomit or any other substance that could resemble possibly anything on themselves right before doing so. Oh, and the cell phone is ringing while trying not to leave the purse, and child bag on the kitchen counter. Never mind the fact that the brewed coffee 45 minutes prior, even though the coffee cup is on the counter, the coffee never makes it from the pot. I can feel your head nodding and maybe possibly you want to stand up from the chair you are in and scream “YES GIRL” but the sleeping child that currently has your legs numb helps you reconsider.
There are times where I’m sure you are scrolling through your news-feed or you see a coupon in the mail and think “I should really do that” or “that would be nice” but you never ask a family member or babysitter to come and watch the small babes for something so small so you can go and enjoy yourself, even if that massage is only a half hour long. I know, I know. You don’t want to burden someone or you feel guilty for indulging in yourself, even though you know that the callouses on your feet have seen better days and we won’t speak about the hair that could probably need some scissors taken to the ends. I felt that way too for a long time. I would always feel guilty asking my family to take Daniella so I could go do something fun. Matter of fact, the first time I let her stay overnight somewhere, I cried half of the night and thought I was a terrible mom for leaving her. I couldn’t wait to get her back. That lasted for a good six months.
Then I found myself in post-partum depression and wondering how the hell I got here and gained what seemed like a million pounds. I never knew what post-partum depression was until I was clinically diagnosed with it. The only way that I identified with needing help was when it was almost too late. I remember Daniella’s father and I lived in a little house we rented for $400/month. It had two bedrooms, one upper and lower. The walls were sponge painted 4 shades of blue and the bathroom had the stair landing in the shower. True story. We always joked that you could shower, use the toilet and wash your hands all at the same time because of the size of the bathroom. I was pregnant in that house and we brought Daniella home in that house all managing with this bathroom. I remember Daniella’s dad went to his friend’s house for the evening and I was going to stay home with Daniella. It was pretty warm outside so I didn’t want her in the heat. Instead, I was going to clean up the house, finish getting the clothes off the line and run her a nice cool bath before settling her down for the night. As I did just that, I remember starting to get angry, at nothing, while taking the clothes down. I could hear Daniella on the baby monitor as she slept in the swing just inside the door and the noise of the swing creaking back and forth increased in irritation. I finished folding the clothes, walked them upstairs and started her bath. As the water was running, the swing was creaking, and the sound of her breathing got louder in my head, it started to feel like my brain was going to combust. Again, pushing the sounds aside, I took Daniella from her swing, undressed her and placed her in the baby seat for her to sit upright in the tub. The washer was washing, the water was still filling the tub, she was giggling and the back patio door was clanking with the wind continuously opening and shutting the door just a little. With all of those noises, I broke and had my head in my hands. For a split second I thought I could eliminate all noises (even the giggles of Daniella) and maybe it would all just go away, the noises, I just needed them to all go away. I snapped back and I was in tears because I knew it had hit me. For that split second that I thought I could possibly harm her to make all noises go away and it terrified me. I called my doctor’s hotline and spoke to the nurse about making an emergency appointment right away. Seconds after that I called my mom to ask her to take care of Daniella so I could go to the doctor.
The reason I share this terrifying story is because I didn’t leave the house until Daniella was 6 months old. I didn’t leave the house to do anything for me until I went to my doctor appointment and he said to me “when was the last time you did anything for yourself?” When I replied: “since before I got pregnant.” He insisted that I find something, anything to relieve myself and do something just for me at a minimum of once a month. I committed to that. Soon after, I found myself feeling better and eventually stopped taking the medication prescribed to me. I will never forget that evening but most importantly, I will never allow myself to feel so stressed and in such a way that I forget about myself.
I often think that most mothers forget about themselves. Sure, they may not have the depression set in but the principle still stands that we, as mothers, need a little time to ourselves. Most importantly, for someone to provide a service to us, even if it is for a half hour massage. I am sure that often times we forget because we are set on auto-pilot and focus on our child(ren) needs before our own, which is what being a parent is about, but PLEASE don’t forget about you.
You are special and you deserve to have YOU time. I don’t care if it is going to the coffee shop with a warm cup of java to people watch, going to a park and YOU taking YOUR own turn on the swings, sitting at the bar top at your favorite bar or tavern BY YOURSELF. Do something that makes YOU happy and that YOU have wanted to do. Most importantly, commit to a minimum of once a month. Take yourself on a date. Commit to yourself. When you start to feel better, your whole family and even you child(ren) will feel better and everything that was once stress, falls to the way side. Personally, when I started going to the gym, taking care of me, I found it to be a big difference in how Daniella feels about herself and the way that we interact with each other.
Get a pen and paper, keep it in the same place you keep the secret chocolates (even if it is in the farthest back corner of the freezer ) and when you eat that chocolate, dream of what you will be doing next month and make your plan of action. Schedule the babysitter, aunt, grandma, uncle (use with caution) ahead of time, remind them a week out and when they show up at the door or you peel out of their driveway----YOU ARE FREE!!!!! You do you; girl and you tell yourself the most important phrase of all- YOU DESERVE THIS! You work hard for it!