I have kept a journal since I was pregnant with my first child. The entries are filled with all of the things I love about her, the wonderful, heartfelt moments we have shared and all of the things that she has said and done that have just made my heart melt. I had the opportunity to re-read the journal recently and I have only one thing to say to my daughter…I’m so sorry.
I’m sorry because while everything I wrote in there is true…it doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s not real. I like to think that she will read the journal one day and I want her to know about what it’s really like–all of the harder, more raw moments of motherhood that I didn’t write about, but should have.
I’d like her to know about the times I resented her loud, insistent cry in the middle of the night.
The times I felt terrified of her vulnerability; overwhelmed by her huge ocean of need and just plain exhausted.
I’d like her to know about the times I pried her from my legs, clinging and crying as I left the house, feeling simultaneously guilty and relieved, and wholly confused by the paradox of the situation.
I’d like her to know about the struggles, the heartache, the guilt, the never quite knowing if what I’m doing is right or what “right” even is.
So many of the postpartum women that I work with struggle with these conflicting emotions as a mother. They feel confused, ashamed and incredibly alone.
I’m here to say that while I can (clearly) fill a journal about how wonderful my child is and how much I love being a mother, I will stop censoring myself from writing what it’s really like. And in doing so, I hope that it will help my daughter and other women, especially those with postpartum depression, to feel free to feel and voice these feelings.
I’m a mother. And this is real.
We are so fortunate to have Alyson Schroeder, MSS, LCSW, as one of our senior therapists at The Postpartum Stress & Family Wellness Center in New Jersey.