“You better hurry it up because you’re going to get wet,” I said to my son. He flashed me a devious grin and grabbed hold of my legs before he ran from under the umbrella and towards the entrance of the school. The other kids were quickly filing in through the double doors like a stampede of cattle hopped up on cereal that was laced with pure sugar. I had imagined that my five-year-old was thrust in the middle of the commotion. I stood on my tip toes to make sure that he had made it into the school safely, but I saw that he was standing on the other side of the crowd. I furrowed my brow and shooed him to get out of the rain.
“But Momma, I forgot to blow you my kisses!” he said as he brought his chubby hand, covered with red marker, up to his lips.
One, I caught up high in the air.
Two, I caught zipping over my shoulder.
Three, landed on my butt because that makes him giggle.
And four, landed right on my heart.
He excitedly waved goodbye and merged in with the busy schoolchildren and teachers seeking shelter from the cold drizzle. One of the Early Childhood Educators guiding the kids off of the bus tapped me on the shoulder and said, “My kid never did that. You must be doing something right.”
Doing something right.
It will almost be five years since I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety after my son was born. I felt like a failure. My psychiatrist was the first one to ever tell me:
“You’re a good mom, Kimberly.”
I had a hard time keeping up with sweeping the dog hair off of the floors and handpicking them out of the carpets. I spent hours smoothing out his clothes so that not a single wrinkle could be found. I charted poops and wet diapers, how much he ate and how much he slept so that I could calculate his schedule just like the books told me to.
I spent hours panicking over dinner, blankets in his crib, leaving my house, and everyone finding out that I was a terrible mother.
I couldn’t handle any of it.
I did not deserve this beautiful gift.
But I did.
A mom with diabetes can be good mom just like a mom who has cancer is. Even the mom who is staring at her reflection in the mirror and wondering why she isn’t like every normal woman who is handling motherhood with ease is a good one.
A postpartum mood disorder is the same as any other illness and does not define who we are as moms.
A good mom isn’t a clean house, preparing home cooked meals, or threatening to shave the dog because if you find one more hair on a baby blanket…
A good mom has unconditional love of their children and of themselves; they fight for it because their little ones are worth it and THEY are worth it.
I fought for every second of every day so that when I pick up my son this afternoon, I can smother him in kisses and he will push me off and say that I’m gross. I will hear him tell me about his “engagement” to a red head, why his socks are soaking wet, and how he is certain that his teacher is 159 years old.
And the one sentence that assures me that I indeed am a good mom:
“I miss you for all of the days at school, Momma, because I love you. What is for supper?”
I wouldn’t miss these moments for the world.
To you the mom, the warrior within you, when you’re feeling defeated, like you cannot bear to live another second in pain, that you’ve lost your will, I want you to recite these words. Even if you don’t believe it, I don’t care. You read it.
“I am worth it.
This will not conquer me because I am stronger than it.
I will not let it define who I am.
I am a good mom.”
Kimberly Morand is a mom, wife, nurse, mental health advocate, a Chuck Norris beard fondler, and a 5 year postpartum depression survivor. She writes the personal blog All Work And No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something, which chronicles the chaos in her life and her fear of spiders. You can also find her writing in the book The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood To Fit Reality.
Postpartum Progress, the world’s most widely-read blog on all things related to emotional health around pregnancy & childbirth, is a service of Postpartum Progress Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit devoted to raising awareness of postpartum depression and similar illnesses. Please consider making a donation today, Mother’s Day, so we can continue and expand our work supporting maternal mental health. Thank you!