Yes, being a mom is hard. It’s exhausting and it will test your patience every single day. But it shouldn’t always be hard, it shouldn’t feel impossible. Since becoming a mother I’ve come face to face with depression and anxiety on a whole new level. I’ve been battling these beasts my whole life but as a mother I’ve never felt more vulnerable to them. When I was a teen and going thru a low in my mental health my safety net always stepped in. People were watching me, making sure I was ok, they understood the lows were not just a ‘bad day’. I’ve had everyone from teachers to siblings step in to help me get back on track when they saw signs I wasn’t ok.
In motherhood I find my safety net is not nearly as prepared to catch me as they once were. And the bigger problem is, it’s not their fault, society tell them to give you space. Mental illness is something our society is choosing to turn away from, look the other way-and people are paying with their lives. Mothers are paying with their lives. These beasts tell you to hide, to isolate; when all you want to do deep down is scream out. I recently heard Denver local Natalie White speak and she said something that stuck with me. ‘Motherhood can feel like drowning-you need someone to reach down and pull you up.’ This couldn’t be more true-but left me wondering, am I looking to see who might be needing a hand?
Most moms of young kids I know are tired, irritable, and falling apart in one way or another-it’s just a fact of life in this season. And no that doesn’t mean we’re all suffering from mental illness, it means it can make it hard to spot when someone is. I don’t know one person whose lost someone to suicide who says ‘I wouldn’t of helped’. No, anyone who’s ever lost someone to suicide knows you would have been at their house every day if they’d asked, to prevent that you would have done anything. That’s the problem with mental illness; it can be invisible and it drives you to isolate. Which is leaving mothers alone, silently hurting-and that’s just a thought I’m not ok with. No mother should be lead to believe her suffering is normal because being a mom is hard.
Having a bad day, and being dragged to the ground by depression are not the same thing. While sometimes they both look like sweatpants and a messy bun, we need to learn to tell the difference. We need to look closer for signs in each other, and we need to create more safe places where moms can share how they feel without being judged. Natalie White was right, we all need someone there to reach down and save us from drowning when-despite fighting, our heads go under the water. That person should be YOU, yes you. It should be you, it should be me, it should be any of us. Mothers need to look out for each other. Sometimes another mom is the only one who can tell your messy bun isn’t just mom hair. There is a way to offer help without being judgmental and that’s what we all need to do for each other.
‘Motherhood can feel like drowning’ the weight of that statement is not lost on me. Especially because there have been times my heads gone under water-thank god I had people willing to reach down and pull me out. Be that person-for anyone you know, but especially for that fellow mom. You know her pain, you know her struggle-show her empathy, understanding. Take the time to see someone who feels invisible-keep track of each other and more than anything if you see a fellow mom drowning, REACH DOWN AND PULL HER UP!