The title of this post sounds completely awful. I am well aware of that. But it's honest. And before you jump to conclusions and decide, "Well now, she's not the gal I thought she was" - hear me out...
A few weeks ago my friend Tracey posted this blog post, and asked us share about the good and bad of motherhood, and what we are learning to value. I read through the comments and was almost finished with writing my comment when it occurred to me that what I was writing sounded really awful and downer-like compared to the other comments. So, I highlighted and clicked delete. Instead I told Tracey that everyone else said it better, and that I had written something and decided to delete it. She replied to my comment and said that she still would love to hear what I had to say.
And this is what I told her (my exact email back to her)...
I'll try not to ramble on too much... ;)
Having a child wrecked me. I know that sounds awful. Horrible. But it sums-up how I felt and still feel at times. I had horrible PPD. I was so lost. Still am really. It's called Maternal Depression at this point - when it lasts this long. I read an interesting book about it called The Ghost in the House. Very good. I could relate to just about everything in it.
Motherhood has shown me that I'm not all of the things I thought I was - like patient and calm and nice all of the time. I had no idea I was a screamer until I had Max. It brought out a lot of negative characteristics in me. A lot of things that make me hang my head in shame like I've never done before. And not a day goes by that I don't think, "You aren't mother material. You never should have been gifted this wonderful child. He deserves more than you could ever give him." (that's why my struggle with not being able to have a second child hurts so much - because even though I want another, I don't think I'm deserving of another one.)
That said, I think it wrecked me for the good. I think He is working in me more so now than ever before through Max. He is showing me unconditional love, and to look at the world with wonder, and to ask questions about everything and anything, and to laugh at the silly stuff that we learn to not laugh at as we get older. He is showing me His grace every single day.
And the greatest thing He is teaching me is that I am worthy of love. I am loveable. He is teaching me - through the depths of Max's love for ME - to love myself. To love myself through all of those things that make me feel ugly and make me hang my head in shame.
Yes, the greatest lesson motherhood is teaching me is to LOVE MYSELF.
(And now I am crying while I drink my Coke and eat my fries...)
I thought long and hard about sharing this with all of you out there.
My words aren't pretty. I'm almost ashamed to have written them out and sent them to someone (whom I haven't even met in person) to read. But having been one of the many moms who attended regular meetings for moms with PPD, I know there are a lot of women out there who suffer in silence. It's the elephant in the room that moms are so darn afraid to talk about or even acknowledge. And that kind of makes me mad and sad all at the same time.
Being pregnant for nine months and giving birth to a child is life-changing for a woman. Sure, men change when they become fathers, but it is nothing compared to the change that women endure. It's hard, it's painful, it's exhausting. The Andrea that went into the hospital and gave birth to Max five years ago is not the same Andrea that is sitting here typing this. That Andrea was left at the hospital and is wandering the halls. The Andrea that went in those doors did not come out. I used to jokingly tell my friends this after I became a mom - when we would complain about missing our former selves before kids. There was really a lot of truth behind those words for me though. Within hours of coming home from the hospital with Max I was in full-on identity crisis mode. I had no idea who I was anymore or who I was supposed to be. I was thrown into the role of mom where I had no idea what I was doing. I longed for the old me - the me who knew exactly who she was and what she did. I still long for the old me some days - the me who was settled and comfortable with who she was. The me who was confident and independent and knew what she was doing. She's still in there somewhere. I just have to find her again, and I have a feeling that may take awhile.
There is so much more of my story I could tell, and I do plan to tell it one of these days when I get my thoughts in order. Of course I hope my honesty here hasn't shocked any of you. I think every mom worries that other moms will think she isn't a good mom, or doesn't love her child enough. I love my son to pieces. So much so that it hurts sometimes. I have one child. One. I get to devote every ounce of my being to just him. This one little person with the 'stache is teaching more than any other person has about how to love myself just as I am: through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the shame.
***I have to say thank you to Tracey for reaching out and asking to hear what I had to say, even if it wasn't pretty. Thank you for listening, friend.***