Drowning In Motherhood
It had been another sleepless night. The day seemed longer than usual. There was always a chore needing to be done. There were things to do I was not able to get to. I hate uncompleted tasks. The nights were without sleep, and the days were an odd mixture of rushing and time standing still. I was drowning in the new role of motherhood, and I desperately wanted to come up for air. But, I did not say a word. Rings formed around my weary eyes, and I was happy to simply make it from one moment to the next without falling over. Yes, I was drowning, silently, while attempting to convince others everything was fine. Inwardly, I was screaming for help, waving my arms frantically. But outwardly? I smiled and said we were fine, or maybe I mumbled something about being blessed (ugh).
The tipping point was bound to happen. When my exhaustion collided with my inward struggles for longer than necessary, I broke. Maybe I screamed. I may have cried. Honestly, I cannot remember. Quite possibly, I felt angry. Why had no one seen? Why had no one taken notice of my near drowning? Because I had perfected the act of being strong and saying I was fine. I was afraid. I did not want others to be swept away in the current too. In my breaking, I told my husband what I was experiencing. He and I came up with solutions to prevent either one of us from being caught in an undertow. I finally had honest conversations with a few trusted friends. We devised a system for when I needed help. I was given the lifeline I needed.
Those hard days, the days I felt like I was drowning seem like a lifetime ago. Then again, I am now sleeping at night. My child is in school, and while some days drag on, the schedule and the needs are completely different. I did not adjust easily to the role of motherhood. Maybe it was the long, hard recovery, or being far away from family that made the transition difficult. Who am I kidding? Becoming a parent is hard on the most flexible of individuals. I should have asked for help. Also, I should have known better than to listen to the lies of the world telling me everything was wonderful, and that I could do it all. To be honest, I needed to repent of my pride and admit my need. I could have been wiser in preparing “the village” to help care for our child, and us.
How To Prevent Drowning In Motherhood
There are days I still feel like I might drown. However, I have learned to throw out a lifeline sooner. Rather than pretend to have my act together (because I do not), I tell my husband when I need some extra help. Now that my child is a little older, I tell her when I need a break or am not feeling well. Honesty really is the best policy. I still have trusted friends to turn to. Sometimes, I need their advice and wisdom, and sometimes I just need to dump my feelings out. These days, I rarely feel like I am drowning because I no longer seclude myself.
Tips To Prevent You From Going Under
Yes, some days will be hard, and there is not much we can do to change that. However, we do not have to feel like we are constantly gasping for breath and fighting to stay afloat. What can we do?
- Be honest. If you need help, ask for it. Do you need a break? Speak up. Are you struggling to do it all? Enlist some reinforcements.
- Learn to breathe. When days, or moments, are overwhelming, I take a few moments to just breathe. Close your eyes, and breathe deeply. Inhale deeply, then exhale slowly. This technique may save your sanity, and will instantly reduce your stress (and propensity to explode).
- Enlist a village. Do you have family nearby? Ask them to watch your child(ren) for a while every now and then. Find a MOPS group nearby, women in your neighborhood, or maybe at the gym you enjoy being around. Plan outings that include the children. Your village should be people you trust, and people you can vent to every now and then.
- Write notes to your child. When I found out I was pregnant, I began keeping a journal of letters to her. On both good and bad days, I write her a letter. No, I do not write every single day, but this has been a way for me to come to a place of incredible gratitude. Some notes have apologies, and explain what I am struggling with. Other notes mention how proud I am of her. When she is older, I will give the journal to her.
- Have a time that belongs to you. Select a time that is just for you. I am the first one awake in the mornings, and I cherish this time. There are no questions (except mine to God), no to do lists, nothing. I love this time, and have been known to become cranky when I do not have it. This year, my husband has started taking our child to her piano lessons. Once a week, for thirty minutes, I have the house to myself. It’s amazing what that time does to rejuvenate me. Find some time, just for you, and enjoy it.
Your role as mother is valuable and beautiful, important and hard. I am cheering for you, friend.