This picture is like most photos, it likely has more meaning to myself the taker than it does to you, the viewer.
This photo has immense meaning to me because it signifies recovery, hope and love. This photo was taken in hurry, a rushed snap on my phone while I had a lump in my throat threatening to swallow me whole. My face stung with impending tears and my heart swelled with guilt, pain and hope. A feeling similar to the one I get when looking at an unimpeded sunrise or hearing the beginning of that song “Where is my Mind” by the Pixies.
My daughter is 14 months old and if you saw the post I wrote for Scary Mommy then you know that I struggled with a particularly bad case of postpartum depression. PPD comes in many forms but for me it was a lacking, an absence… trying so hard to get a break from the responsibilities that overwhelmed me that there were so many things I *didn’t* do. They say “don’t blink or you’ll miss it” when you have kids, but not only did I blink- I laid down and closed my fucking eyes.
I punish myself for not enough holding, kissing of tiny feet, chatting in the kitchen. I had PTSD from a workplace incident while I was pregnant resulting in an early medical leave. I struggled with antenatal depression while trying to care for my teenager and high energy toddler. During this time there was a high profile case of a local mother losing her battle with postpartum depression and with my mental health history I felt that I was doomed.
And doomed I was. My baby was born and I slipped into a depression that threatened to pull me under. When they say that taking care of 2 littles is hard, it’s a fucking understatement. Despite taking good care of my kids I felt too often distracted, disconnected, and longed for an absence of responsibility that I haven’t felt since prior to becoming a teenage parent.
Today I went for a walk to the store with my daughter and her 3 year old brother. Despite the snow on the ground and the bitter cold, the sun was out and in this moment my beautiful daughter swayed in her stroller, enjoying the breeze through her wispy soft hair. Watching the sun reflect off her golden hair that is so unlike mine as it danced in the wind I felt a love so hard it crashed over me like a fucking tsunami. The whole time I felt as if I was drowning and now here I was- trembling and breathless, reduced to tears over the mere sight of a few glimmering silky hairs, lifted by the breeze.
There is no moment you recover from postpartum depression. Instead it is a collection of moments.
The one where you can’t stop crying listening to “True Colors” on the Trolls soundtrack (damn kids), mentally scrambling to grasp onto some rope and and to fucking WAKE UP because at that moment you were the closest you have been to just going limp and giving up.
The one where she is 5 months old and you feel like you are finally seeing her and she is seeing you.
The one on the floor where she walks to you. You see, she rarely smiled for you and you blamed yourself. For neglect, for not being enough, but to you *she walked*. And only to you; falling into your arms in a tiny victorious little pile.
The moment you laid on the floor and she climbed all over you and you held her close, breathing in the scent of strawberries and Penaten cream, realizing you are not dead inside at all- just the opposite. It’s the messy, ragged, discomfort of being alive that scares you.
Each of those were just moments, but collectively they paint a picture of recovery. Of waking up after a long nightmare or hibernation.
And this. The moment when you see that breeze lifting her sunkissed hair to dance as she sways in the stroller. She is beautiful and you feel hope because you feel those moments are snowballing into the life you have been living the whole time but were just too tired to see, to feel, to actively participate in.
So here I am, stripped of any comedy, outing myself as more than just a renegade wig with a penchant for Mexican food and foul language.
I am a Mother who is madly, wildly in love
If you liked this, please share, maybe some poor bastard out there will feel less alone.
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