The Sun is Out



My last post was kind of super depressing, you guys. Guess that's what happens when you try to examine all the things in life that are making you depressed.

BUT.

I actually started that post with the intention of talking about how I am feeling better, since I've been...well, depressed/anxious for like 6 months. 

And I don't want to paint it like motherhood is just the worst or that I'm a terrible person or my baby is terrible or I'm never happy. It was a tough time...I think I am coming out on the other side though. At the very least, I've had a few good weeks and wanted to be sure to mention that.

There are lots of things that are contributing to me feeling better, just like there were lots of things contributing to me feeling bad.

For one, my kid is a pretty great freakin' kid, let me just say. Compared to many babies I know, she is fantastic sleeper and she eats really well and didn't have any trouble when we stopped her bottle...like there are so many ways where her inherent personality makes being a parent pretty easy. I just need to really, really make it clear that this is not about my baby in particular. It's about me becoming a mother, which is obviously inextricably tied to my particular child but also weirdly mostly about me.

One thing I have complained about a LOT is that everyone seems to have different opinions about how I should act as a parent.

People do not do this to intentionally make me feel like a bad mom. I know this, rationally. But I did not feel it; those are important distinctions. And there are several reasons for this:
  •  I am an introvert. I do not like being the center of attention...and when you are a new mom, everyone wants to know how you do everything and why. And they want to tell you how they did it, since obviously their kid turned out fantastic (that's kind of sarcastic, but each parent does think there kid is totally awesome and that's how it's supposed to be, so I get it, but it doesn't help). I hated it.
  • I am pretty independent. I was the first person in my family to go to college, I was a military wife...I just feel like most of my life (at least my adult life) has been me doing a lot of shit on my own. I don't like people acting like I need them to do something. Which is how I usually interpret advice. Also- I can't ever have the opportunity to ask for what I need when you are busy talking to me about other crap. This parenting situation is one of the first truly universal things that almost everyone I meet has an opinion and shared experience with, so the amount of opinions/advice was so overwhelming that I could not process. 
  • My parents are great, they want to help any way they can. I complained about them a lot...it's tough. Based on some comments, I think I really painted them in a terrible way. To be clear- they didn't always give me what I needed during this time, and they did contribute to the dark cloud I felt was hanging over me. But it not intentional or even something they were aware of, since I hid much of my struggle from them. They see things through very, very different lenses then I do- and that's okay, people are allowed to be different. Because I was already in a dark place, I interpreted everything as a monster. Bashing them isn't helpful or productive or probably even fair- especially since looking back I know that in my head I sort of lumped all the frustrating comments together and ended up using them as the scapegoat. 
The reason I said what I've said on this blog is because it's my safe space and I needed to say what I felt even when I knew it wasn't totally rational. 
    •  Also worth mentioning- I am so not a perfect daughter, y'all. I'm sure it seems odd or hurtful to them that I'm not the kind of kid who calls and goes "Oh Mom how do I do this?" Other people my age do that...and I don't. I'm sure that's hard. I will do everything in my power to do it my own way and that comes off as very abrasive and unwelcoming sometimes. I've seen tons of their friends say "Oh she lives so far away? You can't see your grandbaby all the time? I could never do that." And they have to do that. I forced them into that- and I had my reasons. No one here is a bad person. I can't stress that enough. I have placed them in a position that they have never been in before, and that not many of their peers are in. We're all doing the best we can and I love and appreciate them.

    So I just want to clarify that my life is not filled with terrible judgemental people. I am blessed to have people who are interested in me. But I like flying under the radar, and I'm not good at saying what I need without being offensive or feeling selfish (I don't want your advice on how to feed my baby, but if you want to have a glass of wine, watch Dr. Who and entertain my kid while I sweep the floor so I don't have to listen to her cry, that would be great! Or if you want to give me $100 so I could buy a quality baby carrier that doesn't make my back ache after 10 minutes so I can wear her while I sweep that floor, that works too, but no I don't care that your kid didn't do this). Some people welcome this influx of opinions...I don't understand that, but I've witnessed it. Fully accepting that I am the odd one here- but I am how I am.


    Here are the random things that are helping me put myself back together:

    • It's true that most advice is about the giver more than the receiver. Recently I heard someone say they when they are faced with unwanted advice, they just say the word "Banana" over and over until whoever is talking shuts up. I think this will help me! It will make me smile, so the person thinks I care and appreciate the advice. But I'm too busy saying/thinking/singing "Banana" that it blocks their words from settling into my brain. So, yay for finding coping mechanisms!
    • My kid turned one. 
      • The SIDS concern goes way down here, most of the feeding issues are settled, she's sleeping, and generally she has more of a personality so it's easier to tell anecdotes versus people asking boring and generic but weighty questions like "How is she sleeping? You should try XYZ!" If they survive this far, some of the "mommy war" stuff just moves behind you. To go along with that:
      • She started walking. This was all her, there was no magical thing I did that made her want to walk. She just finally flipped the switch and started. It's freaking great, you guys. So many people act like it is harder when kids walk, because they get into more things. Here's where Brittany is different from the crowd once again!
        • For one, no more asking me if she is walking! WOO HOO! My kid is developing normally, now everyone else believes me because they can see it for themselves!
        • Also, now that she can move she doesn't cry for me quite so much. She just follows me, and sometimes finds things to play with independently! Magical!
        • Plus, it's just freaking adorable when she toddles towards me with a big smile. SOOO CUTE, YOU GUYS.
        • This little show of independence somehow broke the feeling that I am constantly on duty. Like, I know I still am. But literally since getting pregnant, I've been kind of constantly tied to her. So even if it's three minutes of her walking in circles around the couch...she is doing something happily without me. This is huge growth. Now our relationship is more about wanting to be together versus having to be together. I'm sure someone will call me a monster, but whatever. That's my feeling and it's awesome now.
      •  Similarly...I can see her learning. I can see the benefit of my parenting. She used to throw her cup when she was done taking a drink at dinner- now she sets it neatly in the cup holder on the high chair! She used to not take any sippy cups, but #WePersisted and now she drinks out of anything. I can see her taking her toys and putting them in her toy box! Y'all, I taught her that. My freakin' one year old can halfway help me clean up her room. That's a parenting WIN! I mean, it doesn't happen every day by any means. But I am helping shape a person and that's pretty fuckin' cool. I may just be a "toddler" type versus "baby type." Which is okay.
      • Oh yeah and the sleep regression worked itself out. Go ahead & judge, we kind of let her cry it out. No longer than 20 minutes, but it never took longer than 20 minutes. Now we put her down and she reaches for her blanket and it's like 10 hours of silence. If you have ever experienced poor sleep, you will understand the sheer majesty of this. 
    • I let her go on weekend trips to the grandparents. 
      • This is not a win because I get to "treat myself." I'm broke from paying daycare, remember ;) Also I have no memory of how to act without a child. But...it allows me to hear tiny bits of justification like "Oh yeah, this is hard. Oh man, I'm so tired after two days of her!" Yeah, cause she's a BABY. They're high-maintenance. I hold back the eye roll for the beauty of saying "Yeah, I know." Tiny wins, people. 
      • Also, I was totally feeling like I was responsible for everything...but I was also not allowing anyone else to take on any responsibility or help me out. I resented both the idea that everything was up to me and the tiniest implication that I couldn't handle everything. Whether I could or not...I don't actually want to. I want to use my village. There's no shame in that, WTF was I doing to myself?
    • We are developing more of a routine. 
      • I don't want to be that parent who has to follow a clock to the minute, but I've figured out that she needs a snack after daycare before dinner. I've figured out that she can handle a 30-45 minute nap if she really needs it without ruining her sleep for the night. I've figured out that if I play peek-a-boo as I leave the room she doesn't cry- unless she's playing with a toy, in which case I slip out without bothering her. Screw this, it's not a routine. It's just...learning my child. The bond may be instant- but having a deep personal relationship with anyone takes time. She's growing, I'm growing, and we are learning how to work together. That's so freakin' cool. 
    • It's summer. More light & warmer weather = more time outside= good for my mental health.
      • I'm not saying nature cures depression. But for me personally, yes it helps to get out of my house. Even if it's just the yard. And I think this baby, who still looks nothing like me, seems to share my appreciation for doing things. She got mad the other night and pointed at the door while I was making dinner- she wanted to go play! I literally just sit her in the yard. It's great. She plays with gumballs and the dry leaves I never swept up over the winter and pulls the ugly wildflowers that I hate anyway. She toddles around and brings me twigs with a big smile and we're freakin' adorable. I play my all female country singer Spotify playlist through the Bluetooth speaker and yeah, it's great. Also we can just drive to the inner banks or play disc golf or whatever with my husband too. It's just the opposite of SAD, I guess, I don't know. But it definitely helps. 
    • She doesn't cry when I drop her off anymore. 
      • I think because my husband has been taking her to daycare on his days off too (which gives him time to do things like cut the grass or change the oil, which is hard to do with her and just builds up until we are all super stressed). This was magical y'all. She just needed consistency. 
      • Also, I got validation on the fact that I kind of run away from her. I work in the toddler room at our church, and some of the volunteers were talking before service and one commented "Ugh why do parents come in the room and try to hang out? It always makes it worse when they finally do leave." To which I responded "Thank you so much, I feel like a terrible mother for just dumping her and running." Their response: "No, that makes you the best! I wish more parents would do that! The kids are always fine and calm down so much faster! Thank you!" Validation. Ah, that sweet sweet validation.
    • I found the One Bad Mother podcast, as well as a few others. 
      • I am stupidly emotional about this podcast. But it was totally a game-changer for me. I'm not as alone as I thought! I started way back at the beginning, which is like four years ago. But it goes through their pregnancy and second children's first few years and it's like a beacon of hope and inspiration and validation and just makes me feel better because they say that motherhood is hard and you're doing great and that is literally exactly what I needed.
    • I've taken people up on their offer to help. 
      • First off, the fact that people are offering like actual practical help is awesome. But the hubs & I had a huge fight because I refused help (and some other stuff, but a lot could have been avoided if I accepted the help). So we are reaching out and being honest and taking people at their word. We chose to make our home in this community for a reason. We did not return to our hometown for a reason. I'm just seeing validation for these choices and being reminded why we have shaped our life the way we have. 
    • Also I did a thing that has nothing to do with parenting and was super scary but I did it and it's done. So that's one less thing hanging over my head. It's not all done yet but there is hope for a thing and I'll be less vague once it's all done. 

    Whew! That felt like a lot of purging. Sorry y'all.

    But I have been so dark on this, I needed to talk about the light. 

    I'm sure there will be more hard seasons, and I'm not even promising that I'm out of the woods here. But I'm in a good place- it's lasted for a few weeks, and I wanted to celebrate and share that. 

    Also, writing everything out enabled me to realize that 1) a lot of shit went down at once, and 2) these things are all manageable. I just couldn't see past the jumble of things until I literally counted them all out and sorted them one by one.

    Some of this shit I just couldn't control and I had to let.it.go. Literally there was nothing I could change...I was just fighting against the current and tiring myself out.

    Some of it wasn't about me. People weren't reminiscing about their highs and lows as parents at me- they were just taking their own trip down memory lane, which they are entitled to do. Just like I'm entitled to get off that road and go my own way. I was being narcissistic and insecure, which is a terrible combination.

    My brain just got tired, y'all. 

    I knew all these things two months ago- about how my kid was fine, how I am better than that lying voice that sometimes pops into my head, about how I am surrounded by good-hearted people. But my brain got too tired and my heart was too full and the darkness crept in. But I am through that period, I think. There will probably be another someday, and that will feel like the hardest too- but the light always finds it's way back if we wait long enough.

    I hope you are in the light now, and thank you for sitting in the dark with me these past few months. Your support has helped.

    4 comments

    1. I am glad you are feeling better!!! People have some serious opinions on cry it out. I am in a baby group on facebook with other moms who had kids the same month as me and a few people mentioned that they did cry it out or asking for advice on how to work with CIO and were just completed blasted by some moms saying how awful they were and that they would never do it for their child. Ummm sometimes kids dont want to nap and they need to nap...you will drive yourself crazy trying everything in the book but bottom line is it works for some. We did it a little with Zoe and she never cried for more than 10-20 minutes either and she is fine. People really ought to keep their opinions and unwanted advice to themselves when it comes to parenting. We all just need to do what is best for us you know?

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    2. For most of my life, I have not been a person who has invited discussion of my life or choices. I have been a straight up 100% ahole to my mother-in-law when she has tried. I should come with a does not play well with others label. LOL Like you, I have been independent and done most things by myself for as long as I can remember. I've had help, and have only gotten better about allowing help and even asking for it in the past six or seven years, but I rarely feel like I need excessive advice on anything serious. Isn't that what life is? Sort of figuring things out that will work for each of us?

      Seriously though it is annoying when people give advice you feel like you didn't ask for and don't need or want.

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    3. I see so much of myself in this. I have been so independent most of my life that when I gave birth, I just assumed I was in that alone as well. Both of my parents and sister live 12 hours away from me, so it is just me and my husband down here, so I really am independent of them most of the time. I, too, don't call my parents much asking them how to do things, because I've just had to figure it out on my own. I'm glad you're coming through on the other side -- it also starts to get awesome when the kid can actually tell you what they want and walk over to it. So there's that to look forward to, too!

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    4. I was literally just thinking about how I should write a post about how motherhood is not easy or sparkly during the first year, because it's such a shock when it happens. I don't know what I was expecting, but we are 9 months in and it has been an up and down ride so far. Don't feel bad about stating your frustrations and anxieties. I'm an introvert also and am fairly independent (we lived 9 hours away from my mom for the last 6 years and just moved back). I'm so excited for walking to start haha. We are in the stage of her following me everywhere, now. I'm sure it must be so exciting seeing her learn things and a relief to see signs of independence. Sleep is amazing and we still haven't gotten there, yet! We are starting daycare next month and I've heard the dump and run is the best. I'm going to be losing my mind afterward, either way.

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