To that happy mom in the park, I’m jealous of you.
Yes, I am here, too, trying to wear out my two strong-willed toddlers, but there is a difference between us.
It has nothing to do with parenting styles. It has everything to do with happiness.
You are genuinely happy, whereas I am trying my best to wear this smile. Postpartum anxiety and depression doesn’t always look like you think it does, particularly with a good social media filter and an equally good poker face.
What I thought were the baby blues turned into postpartum depression when the twins were around 6 months old. I thought I was out of the woods, until the dark cloud came back a few months ago.
Except it wasn’t just a lone cloud — it was a sky full.
I have spent most of my adult life doing stressful and difficult things; working full time and going to grad school, planning and editing two weekly newspapers. But this being a twin parent thing? It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done — by far.
When my friends ask me if “I am having so much fun” or if “this season isn’t the best thing ever,” my guilt tank spills over. I love my squad, but I am still struggling with this new version of myself and my new roles as a parent, mother and wife.
It seemed like all my other friends with babies just got it immediately and were glowing and able to handle their new life with ease right from the start, which filled me with even more guilt.
How could I be feeling this way when I wanted this so bad? Being a mom was all I ever wanted.
I didn’t want to believe that something was wrong with me. I felt like if I admitted to having depression and anxiety that I was a bad mom — that I didn’t love my babies enough; that I didn’t realize how lucky and blessed I was. I saw postpartum depression and anxiety as a personal failure — something that didn’t happen to “good moms.”
Enough was enough. Despite the shame I felt inside, I broke down, swallowed my pride and told the people closest to me how I was feeling. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel alone. My family and friends encouraged me to put on my big girl panties and talk to my doctor.
I am so glad I did.
I have since started taking some medication, which was the right choice for me, and I can honestly say I feel the fog lifting. While I’m still navigating this journey of overcoming, I feel like I have the tools to cope with the challenges in this new season of my life.
Military life is stressful enough, but once you add kids to the mix, it’s a whole new ball game. Add that to not having family or friends around to give you a break, life can get pretty hard to grin and bear it through.
If this is where you’re at right now: You are not alone. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world.
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone and to seek out help. It’s an illness, not a sign of weakness or failure, and it happens to the best of us.
To those moms at the park muttering under your breaths that “that happy mom by the swings is probably medicated,” well shame on you and good for her.
At least she got the help she needed to win at parenting.