There are some moments when it hits me - I’m a mom. And not in the “I have to clean up, I’m always busy, my mind is constantly full and on overdrive” kind of way. This type of motherhood is different. This is the “wow, I’m a mom” moment when I realize just how important and how much I mean to a little human … how all my actions - direct and indirect - affect a developing brain; and how the words that I say are the voice they hear inside of their head.
These moments make me pause, sometimes bring a tear to my eye, and create a feeling of gratitude unlike others.
I sat down next to my daughter on the couch last night. Normally I would be cleaning up after a day of chaos – putting dishes in the dishwasher, switching loads of laundry, picking up toys and things that are used as toys and pushing them to the outer limits of the living room. But last night, I chose to sit. I sat next to my 4-year-old and saw a smile spread across her lips, a twinkle in her eye, and a little hand that searched for mine (all while not breaking her trance with the show she was watching). We sat there, on the couch, holding hands, for a solid 3-5 minutes … it was so nice.
These moments are rare - which I think is why they are so precious. It took me a long time to be able to feel these moments, to recognize their significance and even their existence.
With my daughter, I felt completely detached from her until she was about 6 months old. That’s what postpartum depression can do. From the day she was born until that sixth month, I questioned myself and my love for her: “Did I do the right thing”, “How can I not feel love for my daughter”, “Maybe we made a mistake”, “Will this feeling ever end”.
With my son, it was the opposite. I loved him the moment he arrived. I held his hand while he was in the special care nursery, watched him with oxygen and feeding tubes, waiting until I could hold him in my arms. Yet I could never sit still long enough, or turn off my brain enough to enjoy his company. Even when he joined us at home my postpartum anxiety stole moments I wanted to cherish and remember.
When I look back on the first 3 to 6 months of both of my children's lives, a feeling of loss overcomes me: loss of time, loss of snuggles, loss of enjoyment. I see newborn pictures pop up on social media and cringe, remembering how completely horrible I felt- the isolation, the guilt, the discomfort and confusion of not recognizing the person I had become.
I’m pretty sure this is a big reason why the “mom moments” that hit me are so special … I never thought they would happen for me.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Does it strike a nerve? You’re not alone.
World Maternal Mental Health Day
Tomorrow is World Maternal Mental Health Day (WMMH Day) - an International day that draws attention to essential mental health concerns for mothers and families. Here are a few stats for you:
1 in 7 parents will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder during the first 3 months postpartum.
1 in 5 parents will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder during the first 12 months postpartum.
7 out of 10 women will experience postpartum pressures
These are illnesses and they frequently go unnoticed and untreated. While they are gaining awareness, there are still many parents suffering alone and in silence. Learn more about WMMH Day, and do your part to take care of our families. It is up to all of us to help create as many “mom moments” as possible in this world.