I assumed the influx of postpartum hormones and darkness were reserved for the early months. A time when sleep is few and far between and your body is scrambling to repair itself after the trauma of childbirth.
I was wrong. And that’s not to say I’ve been sucked into a hole of complete despair at any point, but the struggle has come in waves. Big, powerful tidal waves that swell out of nothing and crash hard, spitting me onto the shore in fits of anger or tears or loneliness.
You can be in love with motherhood and your child and your family, but feel sad and lonely and pointless. The conflicting existence tricks you. It guilts you. It pushes hard against your support system.
Why am I mad when I have a husband who loves me? Why do I want to cry when my baby is perfect? Why do I feel alone when I have beautiful friends and a village akin to having my own army? Why do I have no motivation to run when it’s the only thing that feels free?
None of those questions have answers. They’re just occasional unanswerable questions that loop through my head in the moments I want silence and solitude after Owen is asleep. Or on my drive to work. Or when an otherwise completely harmless and inconsequential action trips a wire in my mind and causes me to lash out.
Because I’m tired. Because I’m hungry. Because I’m mad. Because I’m bored. Because I’m lonely. Because I don’t feel seen. Because tomorrow is another day just like the day before and the day after and every single day. What if the days never change and I’m always tired or I’m always lonely or I never want to run again or I never recognize myself?
Not too long ago I laid on the floor of Owen’s room after he’d gone to sleep. It was dark. Todd and I had argued about something that surely was the result of my inability to be rational with my very large emotions, and I cried until I fell asleep. I stayed there long after everyone else had gone to bed for the night. I didn’t want to come out. I was mad — at me, at Todd, at life, at my body, at Milwaukee, at money, at working. Mostly at me. At my inability to see through the murkiness of my hormonal mind. But not at Owen. He’s never on the receiving end of my bad feelings. So I just wanted to stay in his room. My safe space.
So I did.
But other moments I shine. I am so damn lucky to have the life I live. My husband is so loving and funny and encouraging. Our baby is perfection. We have a lovely home and a happy dog. My friends lift me up regularly. I can run (just don’t want to, ahem). My parents are obsessed with Owen, which brings me so much joy. Even my sister, who once scoffed at my pregnant belly and sneered at the thought of pregnancy, is a whole new person as an aunt to our bub.
Everything is, honestly, beautiful.
And so the emotional conflict goes on and on, even a year out. I feel like it was heavy in the early months and heavy again as our first year comes to a close. As the weaning of nursing begins. While my hormones are once again rocked by changes.
All of this is to say the shit that comes along with the love of motherhood is hard. You can be both overwhelmingly joyful and confusingly down. For me, it comes and goes. I feel like the joy is beginning to take over the low once again, and I’m emerging to the other side.
It’s tough when everything in your life is different, however slight, but permanent. Good change, but change nonetheless.
I’ve begun making slight changes to the things I can control. I bought some new clothes. Clothes that fit, rather than stubbornly stuffing myself into old clothes that once inhabited a different version of myself. I got a new pair of running shorts to offer a fresh, comfortable alternative to the old shorts that don’t wrap around my hips quite the same way. I invested in a bit of new makeup to help me dabble in feeling like a girl again.
I feel good. I take a bit more time to put myself together in the morning, but the emotional and physical difference it’s made in how I feel about myself is tangible.
Slowwwwwwly, slowly, slowly I’m beginning to recognize myself in this new role. I see her in there. I can be a mom and a wife and the old Krista all at once.
The oppressive summer heat is coming to an end, peak, enjoyable running weather is ahead, and Owen continues to become a tiny person who is allowing me to slowly and carefully let go of control and trust he’ll be happy and OK when not under my watchful eagle eye.
The fog is lifting and I know I’ll be OK. But goddamn, it’s a hard ride.
For everyone, trust me.
I’d always heard that the first year of motherhood is hard. That it’ll test you in every way. I just never expected that the tests would come in every other form but actual mothering. That part has been easy. But wrapping my life and who I used to be around being a mother has been the real test. It’s like pouring a bucket of marbles onto the floor and trying to catch them all and put them back. A few of those marbles get lost under the couch.
But I’ll tell you, the marbles that get caught and dropped back into the bucket are the best, most perfect marbles.
You don’t want those lost marbles anyway. It’s really gross under the couch.