Being Vulnerable

Karen iphone 2015 076

I read this article on the weekend and it really resonated. So much so that I posted it to my personal Facebook page and spoke about how much I connected with it. A few people commented and liked the post – most seemed to be in agreement with my sentiment. A lot of my friends and family didn’t comment or like – and that’s ok, I kind of expected that. I know this is a sensitive, emotional and potentially confronting topic. But I guess what really made me want to share this article on my personal page was this line:

Remember the concept that launched The Real World (for those of us who remember when MTV played music videos) — “when people stop being polite and start getting real”? I’ve decided to get real, because I’m strong enough to be vulnerable. Who’s with me?

I’m with you Courtney. Being vulnerable is not my strong point – I like being in control and putting on a brave, strong face – ALL THE TIME! I found being a mum for the first time really put these personality traits of mine to the test – I felt vulnerable pretty much 24/7 and yet the messages I were receiving were “Sure, it’s tough, but isn’t it wonderful/glorious/amazing/incredible/the best time of your life?” Um – no! Don’t get me wrong – I love my Sweet Pea like the air I breathe, she is a core element of my life. This is not about her. It is about me and the fact that I was not created to enjoy or love the act of being a mum to a newborn. I barely survived that first year of my daughter’s life – and I don’t say that lightly. In the vein of “keeping it real” I remember one night when Sweet Pea was around 7 months old, she lay screaming in her cot where I had placed her after just attempting to rock and soothe her to sleep for what felt like the one hundredth time that day. I tried to block out the sound of her cries and screams with my own as I hurriedly looked on the computer to see if our health insurance covered an inpatient stay at a mental health facility. I was done. I felt wrecked beyond belief – this was not the best time of my life, it was the worst. Luckily for me I had amazing support from my partner and some beautiful friends and family. I made it thought that first year, mental health intact (barely!) and so did Sweet Pea who is now a gorgeous, feisty, funny and clever little two and a half year old.

One thing that might have helped me survive that first 12 months with a little more sanity would have been the feeling that it was ok for me to put up my hand and say “You know what, I love my baby but this gig is not for me”. I certainly did say that to a few trusted friends and my partner but it still felt like my dirty secret. So, in the hope that I can be of help to other new mums, and to support my own mothering journey, I’m putting my hand up to say I’ll be vulnerable. I’ll be honest and keep it real. No matter how scary that may be. How about you?

16 Comments

16 Comments on Being Vulnerable

  1. Lisa @ Twinkle Little Soul
    February 16, 2015 at 10:38 pm (3 years ago)

    The newborn stages for both of my daughters were by far the hardest times of my life, so I completely agree with you! I’m definitely someone who likes to be in control also. I was a bit better at asking for help the second time, at least. It was still tough though! They are nearly 2 and nearly 6 now, I’m pleased to say :)

    Reply
    • Karen
      February 24, 2015 at 7:45 am (2 years ago)

      Hi Lisa – why do we struggle so much with asking for help?? I still feel funny about it even though I know I need it and I’m pretty sure the people I’m asking are ok about giving it!!

      Reply
  2. Kris
    February 18, 2015 at 10:15 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing this, I had the hardest time when my boy was little. I totally crumbled and felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone. Actually, I didn’t know how to talk about it or who to talk to. It was crazy. #2 is due in april and I hope I’m able to be vulnerable whenever I need to. And find a good cleaner 😉 x

    Reply
    • Karen
      February 24, 2015 at 7:46 am (2 years ago)

      I highly recommend a good cleaner Kris!! I hope the experience of bubby number two is a bit different for you – from what I’ve heard it does get easier the second time…

      Reply
  3. Lila
    February 19, 2015 at 12:58 pm (3 years ago)

    While I had a hard time with my youngest I felt differently to you.
    BUT I am so glad that you are sharing your story, it’s so important that we all share our different experiences so no-one feels like they have ” a dirty little secret” motherhood is as varied as all of our personalities, the more that message is shared the happier we will all be.

    Reply
    • Karen
      February 24, 2015 at 7:48 am (2 years ago)

      I totally agree Lila – we should all be able to share our own experiences openly – that’s my dream!! I must admit I was always a little scathing of mum’s who would talk about their “amazing” experiences of motherhood – I’ve learnt that I need to be able to hear their stories as much as they need to hear mine. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  4. Naomi Bulger
    February 19, 2015 at 2:56 pm (3 years ago)

    The MOST DIFFICULT time of my life, for sure. I think I’m still in it, having had two in such close succession. Unlike you I’m lucky in that while I am SPENT I do feel that this is for me. But… this time last year I was flagging with the Community Nurse that I was sinking. I said to her “I’m not sure and I’m surviving right this minute but I think I’m going to need professional / medical help any day now.” I think being vulnerable – to the nurse and to those around me – and swallowing my pride and asking for help… I think that’s what ultimately enabled me to get through the past 12 months. I’m still in it, so I guess I have to keep remembering to ask for help. Thank you for your honesty AND the reminder. xo

    Reply
    • Karen
      February 24, 2015 at 7:49 am (2 years ago)

      So, so true Naomi – swallowing that pride can be the hardest thing can’t it?? Please keep doing it though – it’s the key to survival I think!! xx

      Reply
  5. Maxabella
    February 21, 2015 at 11:53 am (2 years ago)

    Oh I LOATHED the first 6 months plus. If I’m being fair I will confess that the whole 0-5 stage wasn’t my best. I feel much more connected with my children once they reach the ‘age of reasoning’. I always think that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We will have some sections that totally drain us, where we want to give up immediately and if it wasn’t for our support crew we’d find it impossible to stay in the race. Other times we coast along on a runner’s high that has us smiling from ear to ear, wanting to run forever. I figure the endless steep hills are just part of parenting. x

    Reply
    • Karen
      February 24, 2015 at 7:51 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks for the running analogy Maxabella – very helpful! I think I am like you – each day Sweet Pea gets older and more verbally communicative I think I breathe out a little bit more…

      Reply
  6. Bele @ BlahBlah
    February 21, 2015 at 4:41 pm (2 years ago)

    What wonderful words you’ve shared. It’s funny how we all seem to prefer different stages of parenting. It seems like a wonderful expression of all the different people it takes to make a world. Personally, the four year old has been my most challenging phase so far, but my mate just hated all the pre verbal years and particularly the newborn x

    Reply
    • Karen
      February 24, 2015 at 7:52 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you Bele – I must admit I didn’t think I would loathe the new born stage so much before my daughter was born – but looking back I can see that the older stages “suit” me more if that makes sense!! I look forward to the 4 year old stage with bated breath…

      Reply
  7. Jennifer
    February 23, 2015 at 3:06 am (2 years ago)

    Oh, I can so relate. I was a daycare before my son was born. And even though I adore babies and am pretty darn good at taking care of them, the sheer magnitude of 24/7 mommyhood almost did me in. I remember my mother in law telling me that it was normal to want to throw your kids off a balcony, – just not normal to do it, which helped make me feel less of a failure. My sister remembers putting her screaming son in his crib (so that he would be safe) and then going into another room and blasting Bruce Springsteen to drown out the sound of crying. It was that or go insane.

    Reply
    • Karen
      February 24, 2015 at 7:54 am (2 years ago)

      I love your mother in laws comment Jennifer – so, so true! I actually work a lot with mum’s who have post natal depression and other mental health conditions and I am always able to give them that good advice but when it comes to myself I always seem to struggle – typical!!

      Reply
  8. Tamara
    February 23, 2015 at 6:32 pm (2 years ago)

    This is a beautiful post. Karen, you know I cant really relate as I am not a parent, but I feel as an observer I’ve witnessed this lots. As the observer, I’d like to know just how to support my friends to be ‘more real’ about parenthood – how can I say ‘you know what? it doesn’t matter how you feel about this job (being a mum), I want to walk with you”. How can I say, ‘it’s ok to tell me the crappy stuff…’ ? How can friends say ‘hey, it’s OK to be real about what you feel’?

    Reply
  9. Karen
    February 24, 2015 at 7:57 am (2 years ago)

    Thanks T – what you have said is exactly right! Just keep saying it – just as you have expressed above. I have always known I can speak my truth to you. xx

    Reply

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