Miranda Wicker: On Being the Best Mom

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postpartum depression, mental health, maternal mental healthHey there, Mama.

Happy Mother’s Day!

If you’re anything like me, you’re caught between wanting today to be a huge celebration of everything you are as a mom and wanting to forget it’s Mother’s Day because part of you just doesn’t feel like you’re worthy of being celebrated.

If there’s one thing I want you to know today it’s that you are worthy.

You may not feel like it, but it’s true.

The other day while I was getting the kids’ vitamins together, Joshua ran up behind me, threw his arms around my waist, and said “you’re my best mama!”

It was totally unprompted, completely unexpected, and exactly what I needed.

It had been a long, long day. Rain and sickness kept us cooped up inside. The toddler hadn’t really slept which meant neither had I. I’d been short on patience and long on irritation all day.

But that tiny little moment caused a shift in the evening. I saw us painting around the table that morning, the joy in their faces when I handed them balloons to toss around the living room, heard their voices as we sang along to Frozen for the 4th time that day.

I might have lost my patience a time or two, but that day hadn’t been as bad as those thoughts told me it had been. In fact, it had been a pretty okay day. I hadn’t been a terrible mom scarring her children with the tone of her voice.

I had done my best and the oldest of my children had seen it. Yours can see the best in you, too, and that’s what today is really about.

Sometimes it might feel like you’re not worthy of their love and affection, much less the world’s celebration, but those thoughts, the ones that would see you wallowing in a pit of grief and despair, they’re joy-thieves.

They’re the kinds of thoughts that tell you if the big, grand moments of motherhood can’t be perfect then neither can the little ones. The thoughts that say if you lose your patience once in a day, the 35 times you kept your cool don’t count. That the harsh words you spoke are the only words you spoke all day.

They’re the kinds of thoughts that lie.

You are worthy of the love of those little ones entrusted to your care. You are worthy of the title of “Best Mom.”

Know why?

Because you’re doing your best, and your best isn’t the same as someone else’s. It’s yours and so are your children and that’s what matters most.

And that makes you the best mom ever.

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!

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Andrea Bates: On Your First Mother’s Day

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postpartum depression, mental health, maternal mental healthDear New Mama,

Oh! It’s your very first Mother’s Day. It’s so special. So very very special.

And beautiful, too.

All of the emotions! The joy, the excitement, the anticipation. The thoughts that run through your mind that tell you that THIS, this will be YOUR day.

Finally.

Finally, you, new mama, have a day of your own. One where you’re recognized for all the work you’ve been doing this far.

The diapers. The feedings. The laughter. The tears.

Yes. The tears.

I know, I know. Nobody talks about the tears.

I’m here to tell you, new mama, that it’s okay. You’re allowed to have tears.

You know how everyone says, “Sleep when the baby sleeps”? It’s not that far off to imagine turning that into “cry when the baby cries.” It happens. To many of us.

I know you. I have BEEN you. I’ve felt all the feelings. I’ve cried. Hard. My eyes have flooded with tears. Heart aching. Body spent with exhaustion. I know.

You look at all of those moms at the park. The supermarket. Mommy & Me classes. Tumble gym. Maybe even the OB’s office. They’re all put together. Their hair is pulled back, not a strand out of place. You? You find yourself lucky enough to have been able to wipe out the peach puree from last night.

They’ve got wipes and diapers and snacks. And you? You left the house with a diaper bag and no diapers. Oh, wait, that was me. On my very first pediatrician’s visit. Yes. I’m totally serious.

New mama, I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. And I’m here to encourage you to talk about how you’re feeling.

You may be one of the many moms experiencing the early days of postpartum. You may be living through what is commonly referred to as the “baby blues.” And if you are, they’ll pass fairly quickly. It might take a few weeks to feel normal again. Although your normal will have changed, your mind will feel yours again. You’ll have more control of your emotions. The constant weepiness will have passed. Things won’t seem so daunting.

But you might find that you’re not among the many whose emotions return to normal after your baby is born. You may be one of the other many. The many of us who experience postpartum mood disorders. The many of us who think things like, am I crazy? What on earth is happening to me? Why do I have these racing thoughts? Why am I afraid to let my baby out of my sight? I shouldn’t be a mom. I should never have been trusted with a child. Where is the manual for this kid? WHY won’t s/he stop crying? How can anyone STAND listening to this day after day? Night after night? If I could just get ten minutes of quiet…

There are so many thoughts. I can tell you, no, I can guarantee to you that someone reading this right now has had each one of these and more. And if that’s you? If you’re one of those someones? You’re absolutely not alone.

There is help. Love. Unlimited support. There are so many support groups. In real life. Online. There are books. Doctors. Therapists. Support groups. Blogs. People just like you who have found their way to the other side. You will, too. You will find the light again. You’ll experience the joys of motherhood without being overwhelmed by all the rest.

So please, new mama. Don’t sift through this alone. Find a friend. Talk to your partner. Tell your OB or your child’s pediatrician. Find support. It’s out there for the taking. Reach out. Grab it. Remind yourself that you’re not alone. Know that you truly never, ever have to feel alone. Because you’re not. You have me. Us. Postpartum Progress. We’re here for you. We’re here to listen.

And a small note to the seasoned mamas out there like me who are reading this. If you see a new mama sitting there, frazzled, children running around the grocery store while she tries to juggle the baby, the stroller, the toddler and the bags? Hold the door for her. Help her to her car. Give her a smile. Buy her a chocolate bar. A cup of coffee. Offer her an ear. She probably needs it. Remember how much it would have meant to you? I know for sure that I do. Remind a new mama that she’s never, ever alone.

~ Andrea

Andrea is a native New Yorker who relocated to North Carolina in 2006. After working with children and families as a licensed social worker she took some time off to start her own family. A mom of one, she has recently returned to the field as an LCSW. Andrea has volunteered for a number of organizations supporting women in all stages of motherhood in both, “real life” and virtual environments. She is an avid reader and writer and can be found writing about everyday life, motherhood, mental health and more over at her blog, Good Girl Gone Redneck

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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!

DonateNow

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Ana Clare Rouds: On Realistic Greeting Cards for New Moms

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postpartum depression, mental health, maternal mental healthDear new mom,

When my son was nine days old, I started having intrusive thoughts.  I didn’t know what these thoughts were.  I feared it meant my subconscious had malicious intent.  I was afraid to be alone with my son.  I was afraid I was crossing the line between sanity and insanity, about to fall off the ledge into a dark abyss of madness.

I often think about that terrified and insecure woman who curled up on her bed, wishing she could turn the clock back nine days and trade her mental anguish with the discomfort she felt in labor. I wish I could hold her and tell her everything I know now.  I would say, “You’re having these thoughts because of postpartum anxiety and panic.  It’s not your fault.  They are called intrusive thoughts, and other people have had them.  I know they are scary, but having the thought doesn’t mean you will act on them.  You’re going to be okay.”

Unfortunately, no one was that voice for me.  However, I still got better over time thanks to treatment.  The panic, anxiety and intrusive thoughts subsided.  My fog of sadness lifted.  In order to get better, I needed to let other people take care of me.  I also took medication, napped when my son napped, ate healthy and nourishing meals, and wrote in my journal.  A month after the intrusive thoughts began, I was writing about my postpartum period with a sense of humor in my journal.  Here is an excerpt: [Read more...]

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An Analysis Of Phrases Moms Use to Warn Their Kids

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motherhoodWe don’t spend a lot of time being funny on this blog, for obvious reasons.  It’s hard to laugh when you’re in the midst of the despair of postpartum depression.  But during this holiday season, which can heap even more stress on the already-stressed, I thought I’d give it a try.

Earlier this year, I did an analysis of the most important and oft-used tools in any mom’s arsenal: the warning phrase.

Don’t act like you don’t have one, because I know you do.

I have two. I call them my shot-across-the-bow phrases. They are what I say when my kids are getting on my nerves and I want them to know that if they keep it up, there will be trouble. Or, at least I want them to think if they keep it up, there will be trouble, even though sometimes I’m really not all that committed to carrying through, truth be told.

My first shot-across-the-bow phrase is “Don’t peeve me.” I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve said it. I use this one when I need them to go amuse themselves, or they start doing something they know annoys me. Sometimes I add the word “child” to make it slightly more ominous, as in “Don’t peeve me, child.”

Another one of my favorites is “Don’t make me beat you.” It’s a solid step up from “Don’t peeve me.” I warn them that if they are bad, I will beat them senseless with my Senseless Beating Stick. The Senseless Beating Stick is famous in my house, and has an aura of mystery as it’s never been seen before. The kids are beginning to wonder if it even exists. I’ve explained to them that, if they’re lucky, they’ll never have to find out.

I asked a few other moms to share their fave warning phrases with me, and, when they did, I was surprised at how much each saying made me want to chuckle.

“You’re on the edge, mister.”

“Watch it, young lady.”

“Do I need to put you to bed early?”

I can picture the mom screwing up her face, brows knitted, arms akimbo, delivering her message with the utmost in HUMORLESS VOICE. Warning phrases are serious business.

As it turns out, I found through my very serious investigative research that they also seem to fall neatly into categories.

[Read more...]

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