When I gave birth to Grace (now 5 years old) I was so excited to be a mom. I thought motherhood would be a one way ticket to connection with my husband, extended family, and a way to make new friends while also getting closer to old friends. Well, I was in for a rude awakening. In the first 3 months I had a lot of attention and support from my husband, family and friends. Actually, scratch that! GRACE had a lot of attention. But starting around month 4 the support began to fade. Hubby wend back to work and the meals stopped coming in. My friends sort of assumed that I had it all figured out. Since I was one of the first of my friends to have a baby I can't blame them. From the outside this probably appeared true. But on the inside I was overwhelmed, lonely, and sad.
So, my second time around (with baby Ben- now 9 months old) I knew I didn't want the same thing to happen. Yet, around the 4 month mark all the support faded AGAIN. COME ON PEOPLE! But I was ready. Here are some things I did to turn my sadness into contentment:
- Take time to mourn the things you've lost since becoming a mom. This is a really important one. Your life, especially in the beginning, is unrecognizable. It's not bad- just the new normal and it's OK to miss the "old you."
- Talk back to helpless, pessimistic thoughts- "Is it true that my husband doesn't find my 'mom body' sexy?"
- Make it a priority to get out and have some fun. Call a friend to take a walk or join a moms group.
- Take time to be grateful. It's true that an attitude of gratitude can change your life.
- Get professional help for depression or other mood disorders. I did this right away and am so glad.
- ASK for support from your friends- they really do want to help, they just don't know what you need until you tell them.
- Keep your sense of humor and perspective. Come on, poop in your hair- now that's funny!
- Pay attention to everything that's going well. This period will pass and you don't want to miss all the sweet moments because you are focusing on all the shitty ones.
Parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of tress is lost when raking leaves.
Some resources I find helpful:
Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
The Little House on the Prairie Seris by Laura Ingalls Wilder
All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior