I’ll say it again.
WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.
This sisterhood of motherhood. TOGETHER.
I am a frequent flyer at Heir to Blair and yesterday she posted an entry titled “Great Expectations”. The post talks about how motherhood wasn’t what she expected. That the felt lied to somehow by other mothers. She also talks about how she doesn’t know if her feelings are HER feelings or if it’s the PPD talking.
Then I read a post at Emmie’s blog, This is the First Day of my Life, and I’m a new follower of hers after having found her through Twitter. Her post, “I Have to Say This and it Might Lose me Friends,” talks about how motherhood IS what she expected and she can’t imagine doing anything else. That even though there are moments that are pure suck, she loves it and doesn’t feel lied to at all.
I’ve linked both entries so you can go read and follow these lovely ladies for yourself.
Here’s where my “We’re all in this together” mantra comes in.
If you read the comments that each of these ladies has gotten, and comments they are aplenty, you’ll see two distinct camps forming. Those who agree with Blair and those who agree with Emmie. And it’s beginning to seem like never the twain shall meet.
And that’s where I take issue.
Here, AGAIN, we’ve got mothers putting down the feelings of other mothers. The moms who love every single poop-filled minute of motherhood are “sad” for those of us who don’t. And it’s not always the “sad” that means “wow, my heart hurts for these women.” It’s the “sad” whose subtext says “Wow…those women suck for not loving every minute of this, even when they don’t.” Or that’s what we hear.
And the mothers who say “Hell YES I’ve wanted out before” feel guilty for admitting that and feel the need to strike out with vitriol at those who don’t feel the same way. We say “anyone who says she’s never wanted out is LYING” and that’s not true. It’s like we need validation for feeling the way we feel and we feel personally attacked by those who don’t feel the same way so we jump on the defensive and lash out.
Pot, meet kettle. I’m guilty.
I feel the need to sprinkle a generous helping of ::everyone is different:: dust all over the internet. We’re not all the same. But we are all moms. And instead of tearing each other down for not all feeling the same way, we need to be lifting each other up and learning from each other. (And I can’t believe I just sounded so puppies and rainbows there, but it’s totally true.)
One woman’s coping mechanism is to put her child in the crib and walk away for 10 minutes? Cool. Mine is to send a frantic text to Dan saying “HOLY CRAP THE CHILD IS POSSESSED. SEND WINE.” Or something like that.
It’s OKAY that we DON’T all love every single poop-filled moment of every day. IT. IS. OKAY.
And it’s also okay when moms DO love every single poop-filled moment of every day. IT. IS. OKAY.
It’s OKAY for one woman to feel fulfilled as a human being by staying at home with her children and it’s OKAY for another woman to feel fulfilled as a human being by working outside the home.
All this back and forth between moms on both sides of all of these fences just makes me cranky.
And it’s okay to feel “lied to,” but perhaps that’s the wrong choice of words. Perhaps the right words are “unprepared” and “HOLY SHIZ HOW IS THIS KID STILL CRYING!?!?” And it’s okay if those things don’t mean the same for you as they do for me.
Because I felt BOTH of those things, but not necessarily lied to.
I knew motherhood wouldn’t be easy. I knew that. I knew I’d get sleep deprived. I knew there would be up-the-back poop diapers at 3am. I knew there’d be sore boobs and sleepless nights. I knew breastfeeding wouldn’t be easy.
I wasn’t prepared for my child to scream at me for hours and for me to not know any possible way to soothe him. I wasn’t prepared for the feelings of loneliness and isolation. I wasn’t prepared for just HOW sleepless my nights would get. I wasn’t prepared to feel like my child deserved better than me. To pace around my house crying “I’m sorry…I’m so sorry” while he cried along with me.
And the thing is that even if people HAD told me those things, it wouldn’t have mattered. I would have listened, but it still wouldn’t have mattered. Because another person’s experience is not MY experience. And my experience is not THEIR experience. That’s why things like eyewitness testimony aren’t reliable. Because two people can experience the exact same situation and take away from it completely different things. It’s all about perception.
I think the two sides of this camp are further broken down into moms who HAVE PPD/A and moms who don’t. And that’s even MORE sad. Does it seem like PPD/A is being “trendy” or “overdiagnosed”? Maybe a little. But perhaps it’s also that more women are speaking up and speaking out and shedding light on what women have, for decades, suffered through in silence and shame. And I’d be willing to bet that more than half of us who ARE speaking up about PPD/A aren’t saying everything.
And for the moms who say “I don’t know what it’s like to have PPD/A, but…” good for you for not knowing. Good for you. I’m glad for you. Because I wouldn’t wish this hell on anyone. Not even people I don’t like.
Even now that I feel like I’m on the downhill side of my battle, even now that Joshua can have a bad afternoon without me being reduced to a heap of blank-staring, mindless, non-conversational human on the couch, I still wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
And there again, it’s all about perception.
I know in my rational mind that some days will suck more than others and that some days will be AWESOME. And yes, I’ve had both of those types of days and I’m able to appreciate the good days. Like, really appreciate them. But for me at least, the “suck” days stick with me. I go to bed shell-shocked and I wake up the next day with dread in the pit of my stomach that today will be another “suck” day.
Despite my favorite quote, attributed to Emerson, I can’t just “finish each day and be done with it” every single day.
And if you don’t know the quote, here it is in its entirety:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
That’s what I strive for. To “finish each day” and I do finish the day. But I can’t just forget them as easily as someone who isn’t suffering from PPD/A, and I’m willing to bet that my fellow sufferers feel the same way.
But the fact that I can’t always shake the bad days doesn’t mean that I love my son any less. Or that I don’t love being his mother.
Yes, it’s true. I didn’t always love motherhood. Shocking, I know. Since one of my early posts screams “THIS SUCKS” and since I vividly recall saying that on the phone to my own mother.
And me not always loving motherhood doesn’t mean that I regret becoming a mother, or resent my son, and it certainly doesn’t mean, as one commenter on Blair’s post said, that we should think long and hard before having another child.
(It goes without saying that we should think long and hard before bringing ANY child into the world, and yes, the jury is still out on whether I want to have another, but how DARE anyone tell me I shouldn’t have another because I don’t love every second of being a mother. HOW DARE YOU. Just using the phrase “think long and hard” REEKS of punishment and disdain and ire and it is completely unacceptable from one mother to the next. And that’s the end of this rant.)
But women who don’t love every single second of motherhood don’t need to feel ashamed to say “You know, I was out for cocktails with a coworker and I felt like my old self and it was glorious and I didn’t want to leave.”
And it doesn’t mean that women who DO love every single second of motherhood shouldn’t feel like they can advise those of us who don’t.
There needs to be a “3rd period discussion,” which is a phrase shared by a coworker (Hi, Jamie!) and me that means “We don’t always agree, but we’re willing to accept that there are different viewpoints from our own. And we’re willing to accept that perhaps there are things we do or have done that we need to do differently and it doesn’t make either of us right or wrong.”
Because, I mean, we’re all in this together afterall, right?
The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama)
Monday 21st of June 2010
Love this post!!!!!
Ivy Shih Leung
Tuesday 15th of June 2010
And now that I have thoroughly insulted you by calling you by the wrong name TWICE...I probably shouldn't expect to ever have you drop by my blog. Wouldn't blame ya. So, so sorry Miranda (I've got it right now, yeah). My first time to your blog and leaving a comment, and look what happens. Oh my goodness. This has never happened before. Guess there is always a first. Will you forgive me?
Ivy Shih Leung
Tuesday 15th of June 2010
I am so tired, I can't believe I actually wrote Blair....this is what happens when I have multiple windows open and I'm trying to comment on multiple blogs! Sorry, Miriam! That'll teach me to preview all my comments before posting them!
Ivy Shih Leung
Tuesday 15th of June 2010
I am a little late to this comment chain, but I wanted to add my 2 cents. Blair, this is a wonderful post. Thank you for writing this. Coincidentally, there was a tweet over a week ago from Liz Szabo that motivated me to write my latest blog post about moms being supportive rather than judgmental and competitive. I didn't know about this post until I saw a reference to it today on Twitter between Katherine Stone and Grace (@ArmsOpenGrace).
Friday 11th of June 2010
I completely agree with you! There have been things that were unexpected for me & then things that were just how I thought they'd be. I am not struggling with PPD, but after reading a lot of women's experiences with it on blogs like Heir to Blair, I can see that for a lot of people - like me - it's just that we are uneducated and unexperienced in those feelings. Everyone's experience as a mom is different. There are going to be things that I enjoy or can handle a little better than someone else and vice versa. I didn't have PPD, but I pretty much hated the first 6 weeks with a newborn. I loved HER, but I just did not enjoy that time. I like the interaction, the smiles, the laughs, etc. But my best friend loves the first few weeks & has a harder time as they get more mobile. We need to just support each other as moms. It's tough for all of us!