Dear New Mama,
I had a plan and remarkably, it worked. I wanted to have two children and around two years apart. In the grand scheme of things, it seemed like a good idea. I would be back to work in less time, they would have each other as companions. Vacations, school, everything would be relatively synced.
What I didn’t envision was the four year endurance test that ensued. I didn’t realize that my newfound identity as a mother would be undermined by my complete lack of freedom. I didn’t have a doting mother waiting in the wings; my husband worked constantly at the office or at the house. It was me, me and the babies—all of the time. And frankly, I thought I’d be better at it. I wasn’t the worst, I was present. I was loving. I was relatively organized.
But I was lonely. I was still young, and I wanted all of those things that young women especially want. I wanted to be acknowledged more than anything. That was not going to happen. I went from teaching in a Middle School with a team of teachers—a demanding, but rewarding and engaging job—to being alone with a toddler and a baby every day.
We moved into the suburbs, and bought a house at the end of a dirt road. We had an acre, and behind us were sixty undeveloped acres. It was peaceful; it was beautiful; it was, in a way, a safe little prison. And I knew that I was “lucky.” I was able to be with my kids. I had a husband. I had a home. Why wasn’t it enough?
I remember the day that my husband got “fixed.” I danced as well as I could as I drove down the road. I sang out loud. I was ecstatic. I loved my kids; I love them now as teenagers even more. But I love my independence. I love sleep. I love interaction. I love owning my body and taking it out. I used to say to my husband, when he flaunted his freedoms, “Every dog has her day.”
Ladies, I’m here to tell you: My day has come. And I am flanked by two children who respect and adore me. I love them; I love my freedom; I love my two jobs; and I love my life. It gets so much better. It is harder to raise young children than any marathon or endurance run I have ever done since. I don’t know why we don’t talk about it more, and let you compare yourselves to the illusion of television, etc. That is why I am compelled to write now.
I wish I could hand out medals to you when I see you shopping with a baby at the grocery store. I remember how hard it was, and I respect every woman who endures the trials of early motherhood. It is a universal truth that a woman who has raised children must be in need of some acknowledgement. You are in the most challenging part of your life. In comparison, teens are a breeze. You will have your day, and it will be fabulous!
Hello from the Other Side,
The Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit that raises awareness & provides peer support for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. To see some of the ways we provide moms support, visit http://postpartumprogress.org/community/.