Sunday, July 9, 2017

Hey Momma: It's Okay to not be Okay

This post is to myself, 5 years ago when I first had my son. All the things you think and feel and are too afraid to admit- are okay. 

Hey Momma: it's okay, to not be okay. You can cry, you can break down, you can drink the wine- and eventually you will find a beautiful tribe of women, who are not afraid to tell you that it's okay, to not be okay.

I didn't fall in love with my child right after I gave birth. 
I know you've seen it. The obligatory "We are over the moon and SO in love with *insert trendy baby name here*" post.  I am not mad at you, I am jealous, and if you felt that way- that is wonderful. My first thoughts after birth, were slightly different. I did not fall in love with my son the second he was born. In fact, my only thought on day one of having my son was "I wish everyone would leave" and "What is happening? *insert weird thing that happens to women after giving birth*" I remember on the first night laying in the hospital bed, staring at a new crying little alien-looking thing in my arms, after being scolded by a nurse for almost falling asleep while holding him thinking, "This cannot be how it really is, I am not supposed to be feeling like this." And I wasn't. And I shouldn't. And I should have insisted the nurse take him, or called my husband, mom, anyone- instead of having terrible memories of the first night with my son, but I didn't. Because I didn't know, that it was ok, to not be ok. 

I don't like breast feeding. Some people love it (probably the same people that love the tiny alien the second it breathes oxygen) but I wasn't one of them. I tried, I hated it, I tried again, and I still didn't like it. And I was told about how magical it was, and about support groups, and how I *should* do it for at least 6 weeks, and I still didn't like it. So I stopped, and I was a much happier person when my husband and I could share in the feeding process and that's okay. 

No, don't come visit me in the hospital. Yes, you can stop over the house any time, but for the love of God call first so I can change out of my pajamas. Don't touch my baby. Wash your hands. Please don't come if you're sick, were sick, or could be sick. People might think you're rude, and that's okay. You'll be the one waking up with the sick baby all night, and it's worth someone being offended, speak up, trust me, it's okay. 

I hate social media because it gives new parents pictures, videos, advice, lists and rules of these unreal expectations of "normalcy" as a parent and when you're new at this, you don't know any better. There is no "normal" to raising a child, and it's okay. 

BUT I also LOVE social media for giving me the ability to document and remember every single step of my child's life, the Timehop of memories are invaluable, especially when the pregnancy brain lasts until their 3rd birthday.

And speaking of cell phones. 

Be on it. Scroll Facebook, Pinterest, text your mom, mom-friends. It is our soap operas, tabloids, gossiping with girlfriends, escape from reality- our "me" time. Sorry Grandma, but that's okay. 

Don't listen to anyone that makes you feel guilty about what you feel is acceptable. God gave you maternal instincts for a reason.  So ignore the, "That mom on her cellphone" post. Did you ever think that maybe, just maybe this is her five minutes of freedom. Ten bucks says she's already seen that three year do whatever he's asking her to watch 67 times, and has three videos of it on said phone of criticism. So maybe she wants to mindlessly scroll Instagram while her son learns to play by himself and not constantly get every bit of her attention, and that's okay. 

While on the topic, screens are awesome. TV, iPads, cellphones, embrace them. At 3 years old, my son explained the process of combustion to his Grandpa, and he was right. All thanks to a little STEM based show called Blaze. Not only did I greatly underestimate his ability to comprehend this type of material, I could never have explained it in a way to keep him interested enough to learn it. So turn on another toon, give your son your phone so you and your husband can enjoy dessert at dinner. Remember those maternal instincts? Listen to them, you know when too much is enough, and sometimes you push those limits for your sanity, and it is okay.

Take some time for yourself, even if you don't quite know what that means anymore. Go for a walk, take a nap, get your nails done, anything to get away. You may not know exactly what "you" want anymore, but that's okay. 

Your body will change. Your friends will change. But if you're lucky enough, you'll find friends that can also call their kids assholes, and guess what? That's okay. 

Working, to me, is easier than staying home. I'm a teacher, which means 9 months of the year I'm a working mom and three months of the year  I'm a SAHM, so I get to experience both worlds. The days that I am at work are a different kind of work. I can breathe. I make my own choices for my classroom, for myself. It is hectic, it is still exhausting, but it is a different kind of responsibility, and to me, it is easier. My husband didn't understand it, he still doesn't understand it, but it's how I feel and that's okay.

I hate the infant stage. It was quite literally the most boring, terrible 3 months of my life. Fun fact: less than a year ago, you were in the best shape of your life, in year three of your teaching career, financially making a substantial income, and quite literally able to do whatever you want, whenever you wanted with your husband. And in 9 months, life as you knew it entirely, changed. You went from independence, structure, stability, and your own schedule, to the exact opposite. And there's not a book, or a blog post, or a conversation that can mentally prepare you for that. You just struggle through it, day by day, and most days it ain't pretty- but that's okay. 

"I hate playing toys." I still remember one of my best friends saying that to me and it was like a holy gates of Heaven, angels-singing-epiphany. I truthfully thought I was the only person that didn't like playing toys, like in the And that, my friends, is where it's not okay. 

It's not okay to feel alone. It's not okay to feel like you're the only one. Like you're doing something, or everything, wrong. It's not okay to feel consistently beyond exhausted, sadness beyond control, and entirely overwhelmed. It's not okay, to feel like you're not allowed, to not be okay. And if you've ever felt like that, that probably makes perfect sense. 

Because sometimes you just need someone to tell you that it's okay- to not be okay.  

I wrote this post for so many reasons. First of all, after being a veteran of Momageddon for 5 years, I feel like I've got some experience under my belt. This has also given me the experience to come across so many other moms who are feeling the exact. Same. Way. So many women who have never in their lives, felt these feelings, these emotions until after having a child. If you take one thing from this, I want you to know that every mom's thoughts, feelings, experiences, parenting styles are so, so different- and that's okay!  I also want my friends, my acquaintances, my team members, my former students, family to know that it's okay to admit that you're not okay. Being a mom gets you a lot of things, but it also get you into the greatest club in the world of some of the strongest women you will ever meet-The Mom Club. So reach out. Ask, talk about how you're feeling, because chances are- if there's one thing we have in common, it's that we've all gotten to the point where we're not okay.