I was once asked, on the radio no less to thousands of listeners, to describe what anxiety feels like. Where do you start? Anxiety isn’t simply a nervousness that makes you indecisive. I’m sure I’ll list off how I was feeling and any woman who has suffered will nod in agreement. It’s painful, physically painful. There is nausea, headaches and dizzy spells aside from the mental overload. It feels hopeless and it can pass before it hits you hard again. The lull and low of anxiety didn’t affect me all the time but it sure did like to linger and attack quickly.
Something transpired out of motherhood, rising from the ashes like a giant pink flamingo. It probably began earlier than I care to admit, but a few weeks after Devin was born, my focus was gone, my routine and schedule, all fragmented and I suddenly felt this overwhelming urge to blow up. It was less to do with the fact that we had a five-week-old baby and more to do with the extreme possibility I was suffering from intense postnatal anxiety and depression.
The phrase “having it all” did not necessarily begin as being strictly implied for the professional mother but somehow, over the years, we have found our way here. Career driven women who inevitably question the balance of life with work and motherhood. Making choices as though it’s a necessity to choose. Or attempting to balance the load of success in every aspect of our lives because we are the great acrobats of modern society. Because being successful is how we are supposed to measure these things, right?
We question those choices. And argue about why we can’t have it all. We debate the very idea of what it means and why we want it, searching under rocks and digging on every X. Feeling the pressure of guilt, self-doubt and judgement on every scale as it balances out of our favour. We battle an ever, omnipresent idea of being bigger, better and more than we are. As though striving to reach goals, break through glass ceilings and chase our dreams becomes a questionable commodity as motherhood calls. Almost as though we search in vain.
I’d absolutely love it if this was some inspirational post about being the sickest and coolest and most epic Momma Bear – which I realise makes me sound so incredibly uncool – but it’s all about when Momma Bear is sick and boy do I know what that’s like.
It’s January. We’re all a little fed up. But we’re also jumping pretty damn hard and fast on the rejuvenating band wagon. One thing I’ve learned over this winter, is how self-care is vital for Momma and Papa Bear. Over January I plan on posting a few blogs about putting yourself first. We all know, if Momma Bear is weary, the house gets weary.
And so almost ends my first year as a stay-at-home, work-from-home, Momma Bear. How’s it’s been? Oh where do I start? How about with you.
In light of the recent articles and discussions I’ve been having about motherhood, I worry that the point has been missed. There can be a lot of negativity floating through the parenting atmosphere and I most certainly don’t want to come across as a ranting, begrudging, regretful mother because that could not be further from the truth.
For those who don’t follow me on Social Media, you may have missed the weird yet wonderful last seven days I’ve had. It started off last Tuesday by being on 96fm’s Opinion Line talking about the mental hardship of parenting after suffering postnatal anxiety and ended up with little old me on Virgin Media’s Ireland: Am, discussing the challenges of motherhood. It’s made me fully understand and appreciate one very important thing. We have to own our Motherhood.
I obviously quit my job in January, after months of wondering and hoping, while on maternity leave, that working from home would be a viable option. And it has been. Financially we are better off than if we were forking out for childcare. I’ve worked every hour that I’ve been afforded and raised my profile as a writer, social media manager, content creator and more. I wear many hats! So many hat’s that I need to buy a hat rack. As the summer ended and we wrapped up our holidays in Wexford, I thought more and more about my quality of life and how working from home was pulling me down in ways I wasn’t expecting.
Being Momma Bear has changed me. I’ve changed drastically and dramatically and for the better. We grow up, drag ourselves in to the world of adulthood and expect nothing. For some people things don’t change. They blend from one decade to the next with the same ideals and shoes. Others change quickly, become bigger, better versions of their younger selves. And then there are new parents. The change is sudden and immense. The growing up and learning is vast. Parenthood is like an affliction that changes the internal mechanisms of your body and brain – in a positive yet frightfully severe way. Has parenthood changed you?