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Becoming a stay at home mom, especially if you previously worked full time outside of the home, is full of challenges. It has many rewards but they do not negate the fact that this gig is HARD. So much harder than I ever thought it would be. Sometimes I feel guilty because I know there are mamas out there who have to work and would LOVE to be able to stay at home with their littles. The reality is I don’t think there is an easy way to mother. Whether you are a SAHM, WAHM, or a full time work outside of the home mom it is HARD. So wonderful but also incredibly exhausting.
Going from a full time job to full time caregiver of a newborn was surreal. I think at first it didn’t feel real and I would go back to work and everything would go back to normal. After the denial wore off the anxiety set in. This tiny person depended on me for EVERYTHING. He never slept for more than two hours at a time, my boobs were sore and chapped, my house was a disaster, everything I owned smelled like spit up, and I hadn’t seen sunlight in days. I felt like I was drowning. I felt like I was failing. The beautiful fantasy I had envisioned was evaporating before my eyes and the weight of my failure was soul crushing. I didn’t deserve this perfect sweet baby who smelled like heaven. Maybe I had infertility because I wasn’t good enough to be a mother and now I was facing what I deserved for defying nature. Why were so many other women capable of having these pristine homes, content babies, and never smelled like vomit or forgot to shower?
Clearly I was suffering from Post-partum Anxiety and Depression and I did seek help from my doctor but something else saved me as well.
I found my mama tribe.
This above all else brought me the support I needed. I realized that so much of what I was feeling was normal. That other babies had bad days (and nights) and it didn’t mean I was a bad mother. That other people with infants fell behind on housework and sometimes forgot to shower. That sometimes babies cry and there is NOTHING you can do to fix it. That breastfeeding is HARD for lots of people.
I found women I could talk to about the bad days who wouldn’t judge me. A reason to take my baby out of the house to the park every week for our play dates. I found hope and joy in mothering sitting on a blanket under a canopy of trees and playground equipment. Little by little I stopped feeling like I was drowning and began to tread water until one day I realized I was swimming.
These women and their sweet babies became my sounding board, my confidants, and sage advice givers. In the midst of it all I lost my mom to cancer and they were there to answer the hard questions about mothering I so wished I could ask my mom. I found people who struggled with the same struggles and learned to be a better mother watching women with the patience of Job gently counsel toddlers who needed direction. They held my hand while I learned to be a mom and picked me up when I stumbled and fell short.
In short, they saved me.
Some days I feel panicked thinking about the tiny miracle growing inside of me and having to face the newborn stage again- this time with a toddler. My mind goes to a dark place and I worry I will feel the all too familiar sensation of drowning. But then I remember I have my tribe. I will not be alone. And on days when the nights were far too long and the sleep far to short and my patience far too thin and my laundry far too high they will throw me a lifeline. I won’t drown. My tribe will be there to pick me up and remind me that this, too, shall pass.