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?