Sometimes I feel very happy and satisfied as a mother. I feel this incredible motivation to go about my daily routine and to-do's, finding joy in making good meals for everyone and keeping things tidy and in order. During those times, I feel capable of balancing housework, activities with the kids, violin, meals, laundry, etc. and while it's never perfect, our house seems to function quite well because I'm happy.
And then I have those other days. I wake up with a sense of dread instead of anticipation. I lay down on the couch while my kids watch morning cartoons, telling them I'll make their breakfast in "just a minute." I drag my feet, my eyelids feel heavy, and the thought of planning an activity for the day or even attempting to load all four kids into the van makes me feel weak in the knees. I want to sleep all day. I dread lunch. I need space. The garbage can seems to slam extra loudly as I scrape food off of dirty dishes. My house is old and unchanging. And I don't have the energy to change it. All I can see or think of is the negative. Simply put, I'm unhappy.
So, I'm sixteen weeks pregnant. And we pregnant women get tired. But these hard days have come and gone in all seasons. These waves of unhappiness don't seem to follow any natural cycles (minus the fact that they are almost always related to sleep). They are the hard times, when even the thought of tackling my dishes makes me cry. On these days, I cling to my cell phone like a cigarette, scrolling through Instagram or my email just to escape my own reality.
I had post-pardum depression after my second daughter and found out first hand that it's no picnic. Since that experience, I assumed that these difficult days that came and went, were part of that depression. I assumed that I was in fact, a depressed person. And while I know that depression is a real thing and affects everyone differently, I've come to understand that motherhood comes with its own depressions. LIFE comes with depressions. That's how we're stretched and learn skills and tools and empathy and gratitude and which movies our kids love most on Netflix so we can take a NAP and stop shooting fireballs out of our eyes at everyone.
But when you're IN IT, it's so hard and blinding. I feel guilty. I think I'm a bad mom and everyone else is better at this job than me. I don't want to read my scriptures and exercise and eat vegetables and snap out of it. I don't want to return phone calls or see or talk to anyone. Sometimes I feel more comfortable in my grumpiness and want to stay there a while, as if I'm proving to everyone that my life is hard.
The mind of a mother can be messy and complex. I feel overwhelmed by my four small kids, but so grateful we had them close so that they are playmates and (one day) good friends. I can't believe we're adding a fifth baby in November, but at the same time I burst into tears when I think that this just might be my very last pregnancy. I love being a mother with all of my being and then sometimes I want nothing more than to grab the keys and RUN. It's a tangle of emotions at all times. It's amazing I'm still breathing.
Today was hard. Lots of stumbling, some tears, and at last I had a great talk with a dear friend who just kept nodding her head emphatically as I spilled my questions and fears and feelings. Sometimes it's just nice to know that others have been at the bottom and back at the top, and then back down to the bottom again. That's why we need one another so badly. I felt my shoulders getting lighter and lighter as we talked about motherhood--it's ups and downs, it's depressions and joys.
I'm constantly amazed at how easy it is to think everyone around me is perfect. Or that their house is amazing and clean and bigger. Or that they have such a handle of their routine and know all the answers to parenting and discipline. And then I finally talk to that "perfect" woman and find out that she prayed and waited for a baby for years. And then when she got pregnant, she was in bed for months, so sick that even water made her nauseous. I see another mom who has built her dream home and yet eats dinner alone with her kids every night while her husband works late. I sat next to a beautiful mom who brought the most amazing treat to a baby shower and looked so well put together that I was sure she had it all, only to find out that she worked full time to support her little boy since her husband passed away suddenly a few years ago. A mutual friend told me that the first thing she heard this recent widow say after her husband died was, "I know Heavenly Father has a plan for my family!"
And so today, I believe in that plan. I know Heavenly Father sees me on these hard days when I feel so small and almost invisible. We post our best days for the world to see, and that's a good thing. No one wants to see me in the back of my closet blowing my nose on a hand towel because I'm out of toilet paper since I haven't had the guts to go to the grocery store with the kids. But we must remember that the only reason we have those good days to post about is because we've survived the depressions, the hard days where we want to burn our aprons and set fire to the dishes.
I want to be a the kind of mother that helps other mothers feel normal and real and good. Because you are. I hope I can inspire my friends as much as they inspire me.