“The world is full of women blindsided by the unceasing demands of motherhood, still flabbergasted by how a job can be terrific and torturous.” – Anna Quindlen
Blindsided is right. This was not what I had signed up for. The anger. The fear. The desperate exhaustion. The feeling of being swallowed up by my own failure. The feeling of total insignificance and utter insufficiency all at the same time.
Motherhood is not what I thought it would be.
How much of my feeling this way was due to what I now understand to be postpartum depression? I will probably never know. But I can tell you that my complimentarian, Evangelical Christian, young-married woman view of motherhood was false whether I had suffered from postpartum depression or not. Perhaps it was naivety. Perhaps I bought a message sold to me that being a young mom of many who drives a fuel-efficient SUV and worships Jesus every Sunday next to her godly husband would satisfy me.
Perhaps I believed it would be as easy as everyone pretends it is.
When I accepted that reality, it instantly puts the dreams I had for my future in jeopardy.
And for that, I am sad. I am sad to set aside assumptions I made as a 22 year old newly pregnant woman who was going to start her family young, have a handful of kids, and be done with her child-bearing years before her 35th birthday. Because really, I want it to be like that. I want so desperately for this career in mothering to be glamorous and natural and easy. I wanted it to be that way so badly that I pretended it was for nine months before admitting that it wasn’t.
I’m experiencing a grieving process of sorts. I am having to lay to rest my understanding of motherhood. I am mourning its loss. I don’t know what stage I’m in, but I think it’s somewhere between denial and bargaining to have it back.
I so desperately want it back that each day I try to create it. It, that motherhood as I thought it would be. Maybe it’s bargaining, I’m not sure, but day by day I force myself to be a more purposeful parent. I let myself laugh, really truly laugh as I tickle my son. I pack us up, get out of the stinking house and go on adventures with him. I try to make it look how I thought it would.
This is how I am coping.
And if you promise to keep this secret and not say it out loud because I don’t want to jinx it, I will tell you. Slowly, as I cope in this way of making motherhood what I thought it would be, it is becoming what I thought it would be. Slowly.