I have always treated my depression as an addiction. It is something I fall into when the world is too much. It is something I turn to. I identify as a person who struggles with depression. I openly acknowledge the postpartum depression I had with Cohen, first right after I had her and then again when I stopped breastfeeding 18 months later. I recognize traces of postpartum now with Merrick, only this time I better understand what is happening.
The hormones involved in pregnancy and nursing have taken my depression to a new level. Before children my depression would weigh on me like a wet wool blanket and beneath it I could do nothing but wait for it to dry so that I could move again. The hormones make depression more like someone sneaking up behind me with a blanket, throwing it over my head, spinning me, dousing me, and then making sure that I know this is my fault as it never would have happened had I not left that blanket and a near by bucket of water lying around.
I don't care to share these things. Not because you are reading it but because it is hard to write down.
I don't know what I expected from motherhood the second time around. I don't know why I thought I knew what I was doing when all I really mastered was going through the motions. I know how to breastfeed, to nurture, to cook a square meal and get a toddler down for a nap. I know how to get to the library, the good parks. I not only know which equipment my kid can play on without getting hurt but I know how to get her to want to only play on that stuff. I know how to stay calm at 2 a.m. when I haven't had a good night's sleep in 6 weeks. I know how to go through the motions so that I am a loving wife who empathizes with my husband even on the days I really feel completely alone and isolated. I am skilled.
I told Dan last night that the longer I am home the more I feel my confidence slipping away. Having these children has set back my "plan" by exactly 5 years. I remember thinking that I would be okay with being old in law school because I wouldn't be done until I was 30. Now I am 31 and a year out from starting grad school. But I am skilled. My children and my husband did not just happen to me. I needed them, sought them out and brought them each into my life. Now I struggle to identify myself by no fault of theirs.
My aunt told me while we went for a walk last week, "It took me a long time to realize I was more than just the things I did. I was more than a mother, I was more than a job, and it has taken me a long time to see that."
All the struggling we have had to go through with money because I decided to stay home and raise the children. All the weight that Dan has carried to care for our family when he knows as well as I do that I could return to work and double our income. Still he has never said a word. We talked about this last night, about how "having children" means different things to different people. To me it meant being home, being the one that wakes them, feeds them, soothes them. I do all of these things. I am skilled at this.
But being a mother is only a compartment to a woman. Time is cruel to a mother. It runs out and your children leave you and you have no skills, no babies, and nothing but stories to tell about who you were before you were a mother. I am transitioning. Preparing for school, a career, looking to get back to work earlier with Merrick than I did with Cohen.
I am struggling to identify with something I prefer. This part of motherhood, the part with a newborn is like falling down a rabbit hole. I know there is another side and I know I am going to come out on it, possibly even land on my feet, but I am falling none the less. The trick seems to be to let go, to relax, to have enough faith in myself to know that where ever I end up I will be fine.
I just don't have words for what this is. I can't write today and yet I try to keep this blog for my record and for my readers. I try to be honest so that if any of you ever feel this way you can see you are not alone. Because right now the alone part is the worst. I just need a success story. I just need to pull through to the other side. I just need to remember that the sleep will come back and I will be able to take my test and I will pass and I will be a student again. In the world again. Valued for something other than breast milk and story time again. Because being a mother to my children is forever demanding more of me. While now they need stories and diaper changes, soon it will be cell phones and clothes not from Wal Mart, cars and college. And I will provide those things. That is my job. That is my gift to give.
All of this I struggle with, this is my drug. My choices have led me to my options and despite what frustrates me I know that I am lucky to feel safe and loved while I press on. Thanks for that.