Being a mom is hard. Being a mom with a mental illness can be impossible. Take today for example…
Today I felt like garbage. Just depressed, anxious, exhausted, and every other negative emotion I can think of. Why? I’m not 100% sure but I’m fairly certain it has something to do with my period. So that’s fun for me. I could barely get out of my bed today but I had to, because I am a mom. And we are never off duty. Thankfully I had my extremely helpful husband and by some miracle my mom was with us today, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done.
I couldn’t sit next to my son without crying. And while I believe it’s ok for children to see us cry or see us be anything but perfect, it still made it really hard to be his mom. Because I don’t want to cry in front of him while reading “I Want My Hat Back” for the 1384394th time. I kept thinking about how I wanted him to see his mom as a strong woman. And then I remembered, crying is showing strength.
It takes courage to allow ourselves to feel, whether you have a mental illness or not. It’s ok for us not to be perfect in front of our children. Why do we even try in the first place? We don’t expect them to be perfect, so why do we have to be? And what parent has never “lost their cool” before anyway? If you’ve never broken down in front of a toddler I don’t believe you.
Today I allowed myself to be sad. I watched a YouTube video of a mommy vlogger’s grocery haul because it took my mind off things. I kept hearing “you’re not being a good mom” in my head over and over. But that’s not fair. Not only am I a mom, but I’m a mom with bipolar disorder. And sometimes that makes things really fucking hard. Sometimes it feels like my brain sets me up to fail but I still have to pick myself up and be there for my son. It takes a strength I didn’t know I had. Moms really are superheroes. Because despite feeling like I was falling apart, I made it to dinner time. And I made it to bath time. And I made it through bedtime. But even if I hadn’t been able to, even if I had to have my husband take over, that would have been fine too.
It’s ok not to be able to do it all. There’s SO MUCH pressure on parents, particularly mom because the media hates women, to be the “perfect mom”. I see it on YouTube all the time because I am obsessed with mommy vloggers. There are the vloggers who never show a child having a tantrum. Always have their hair and make up done. And always have their house neat and clean. But then there are the other moms. The moms like me who are still in their pajamas, hair a mess, and teeth unbrushed at noon (and yes I did go to a conference call like that…with my camera turned off). The moms who are just trying to get through the day. We’re not wearing mascara. The baby is having avocado and cheese for dinner. And I won’t be wearing destroyed skinny jeans because my legs would look like sausages. And no I still don’t fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. THANKS.
I took some of my anti-anxiety pills because I have convinced myself that they make me feel happier as well as less anxious, and it helped. Medication works for me. I know it doesn’t for everyone, but I’m a mommy on meds. That should be a hashtag. AND I took those meds all throughout my pregnancy and after I delivered. Because my mental health has to come first.
So today I let my mom and my husband take the wheel. Because I needed to watch that grocery haul. I needed to ride my bike (I miraculously summoned the energy to ride it). And I needed to take a hot shower where I (badly) sang my favorite depressing showtunes. Sometimes I feel depressed or anxious and I don’t know why. But I try to acknowledge those feelings and let the people around me, my support system, know that they’re there. Because I really can’t take care of my baby if I don’t take care of myself. And I have come to accept and appreciate that. I hope you can too.