Mother’s Day is a very tough day when the last thing you want to do is celebrate your mothering. I know, because last year I wanted Mother’s Day to pass me by completely. I couldn’t bear to be celebrated for something I felt so profoundly bad at.
I’ve never really thought I’m a good mother. Or maybe it’s that I am not the mother I thought I would be. I thought I would be good at this. I thought I would find a secret reserve of patience somewhere and be able to draw on it when needed. I thought I would enjoy it more.
Last year wasn’t my first Mother’s Day, but it was my hardest. It was a particularly rough time, and about a month before Mother’s Day – after about 2 ½ years of not being treated properly for postpartum depression – I had a breakdown and ended up taking time off work. My husband and I quickly acknowledged that, at that time, I wasn’t actually able to do the toddler care stuff. So I didn’t do any of it. I didn’t get him breakfast or brush his teeth or keep him entertained or put him to bed. I played a little bit here and there, but mostly I hid in our guest room and tried to get over the feeling of wanting to die. Not exactly a great lead-up to a day that celebrates motherhood.
As the day got closer, I started to panic. I didn’t want to celebrate and I didn’t want others to celebrate me. I felt unworthy of recognition. And I felt so, so sorry for my poor son for ending up with me as a mother.
Sound familiar? So many moms equate their struggle with postpartum depression with not being a good mother. You’re depressed (or anxious or angry) so therefore you must not be a good mother. You haven’t bonded with your baby, so you clearly weren’t cut out for this.
Let me tell you one thing I now know for sure: None of that stuff your brain is telling you is true.
Last year, I told my husband I wanted to skip Mother’s Day. He told me it wasn’t an option. At first I was mad, but then I started to think about it. (And with all the hours I spent hunkered down in our guest room, I had a lot of time to think about it.)
By the time the day came around, I was willing to see some of the stuff I hadn’t been willing to acknowledge before. Like that I’m good at talking about stuff and answering endless questions. I’m really good at dealing with a sick child. And I have enough photos from my son’s first years where he is grinning from ear to ear to believe that perhaps I haven’t entirely ruined his life.
And the same goes for you. You haven’t ruined your child’s life, and you haven’t ruined yours. You’re just struggling, like so many of us do. But you are asking for help and you’re doing your best. And that’s enough. And it’s worth celebrating.
Happy Mother’s Day.
Robin Farr is mom to a four-year-old with a baby on the way. She suffered with undiagnosed and untreated postpartum depression after the birth of her first child and credits her blog, Farewell Stranger, with helping her recover. You can also find her on Twitter at @FarewellStrangr.
The 4th Annual Mother’s Day Rally for Moms’ Mental Health is presented by Postpartum Progress, a national nonprofit 501c3 that raises awareness & advocates for more and better services for women who have postpartum depression and all other mental illnesses related to pregnancy and childbirth. Please consider making a donation today, on Mother’s Day, to help us continue to spread the word and support the mental health of new mothers.