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Looking In and Reaching Out

I have spent most of my life both longing desperately to and actively avoiding to fit in.

I hesitate to show people my true self. I think it’s because I don’t like being teased or ridiculed. I never learned how to take teasing gracefully. I blush and shy away back into myself when I get teased and so I avoid giving my friends something to tease me about. I think it’s because as a teenager I spent much of my time with a group of girls who I thought were my friends but who shut me down every time I tried to share something about myself. They always made me feel as though I were only welcome on the periphery of the group. I just wanted to fit in and not once did I feel like they really wanted to make a connection with me. I never could find the balance of being the person they wanted to spend time with and being me.

That paragraph sounds like I had a pitiable adolescence. That’s not completely true. I had a really great best friend in highschool. She made me feel like she wanted to know me and wanted me to know her. I still love her.

Only recently have I realized that there are currently only three, maybe four people who really know me well. I came to this realization because I recently saw a counselor – I was concerned about “postpartum  issues” (her words, not mine). She asked me to list my support network, the people I go to when I need to talk about something. I said I talk to my husband and she responded with “he’s going through similar things. Who else can you talk to?” and I am embarrassed to say that it took me a minute to list my sister and my best friend. I was so wrapped up in self-preservation and making other people think motherhood is fucking awesome that I forgot I could be honest with them.

Even saying that I saw a counselor was crazy hard to admit even to myself. It took all my courage to admit to my loved ones that I was struggling and needed to talk to someone. Even writing it down was is still difficult. It still feels selfish to write about myself like this. Is that weird?

I am a wife, mother, blogger, reader, singer, board gamer, runner, friend, sister, daughter, and woman who enjoys all the same hobbies that an old lady enjoys. I am a complex being with complex feelings. I am not alone unless I choose to be. I choose not to be.

I read a lot of blogs, watch a lot of shows, listen to a lot of podcasts about people embracing themselves struggles and all. It’s about time that I start doing that instead of just admiring those that do. So, next time you see me, please ask me how I honestly am. And then listen to me complain about how hard it is to be a mom without making that face that says “I’m so sorry I wish I could help.” You are helping by letting me speak.

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It’s not OK to brag

As a new mom I have noticed a strange phenomenon that took me by surprise. Telling other new moms about how easy your baby/new life is is shameful.

Everyone will listen to you about how little your baby sleeps, how much they cry, how hard it is to sooth them, how little sleep you are getting, how much you get shit on, how much your baby protests the bath… the list goes on and on. Everyone will hear the struggles of your new life. There are a plethora of blog posts about any difficulty you can imagine.  Having a problem? You are not alone. There are a million other moms who have gone through the same thing.

I am sympathetic to struggling mothers but I haven’t experienced their difficulties and that is an unpopular thing to say. New moms want to know that every new mom is struggling. The truth is that not every new mom struggles. Sure, I have some bad evenings where she wants nothing but to be held on my shoulder. I have driven home with a screaming, crying baby in back of the car. BUT my daughter only cries when necessary and, even then, I have yet to see her to wail more than a handful of times. She naps easily in her swing, she nurses without struggle, she is easy to burp, she has taken the bottle so I can go out, she seems to be hitting milestones.

Can I tell other new moms about this? Nope.

I get it. I do. I wouldn’t want to know that someone has an easy baby if all my baby did was cry but it can be lonely on this side of things too. Of course I can tell the positive things to my parents, in laws, husband, siblings, but not to new moms. This sucks. I spend a not insignificant amount of time with new moms. It’s nice to talk about your baby with people who are in the thick of it with you. Unless it doesn’t feel “thick” and you get the side glances and annoyed looks when you tell the woman you just met that your baby has been sleeping through the night since the midwife said she was gaining weight so well that you didn’t need to wake her to nurse.

Yeah, my baby is fucking amazing. My mom likes to hear this. My husband likes to hear this. My new friends do not like to hear this.

I guess I better pick and choose who to brag to. I want mom friends and I will sacrifice bragging about my baby in order to make them. Mark my words, though, once our babies are kids I’m going to brag like fuck about how my screaming toddler used to be a sweet, silent baby.