Article by Eran Sudds
My son was 3 months and 14 days old. I know this because I was counting the days. On any given day, I knew exactly how old he was, what Wonder Week he was in the middle of, how many days were left until his next predicted milestone and, in this case, how many hours were left until his daddy came home from his latest business trip.
On this particular day I was exhausted. Again. Because my husband was away, I had taken my infant son to Victoria with me to stay with my mother and have some extra help. The night before we had both slept terribly; he had been up over ten times in the night. I hadn’t slept for longer than 45 minutes at a time. I was overwhelmed, frazzled, bone-weary and completely worn out.
I had no idea how I had ended up here.
But here I was – my son, screaming with exhaustion in the passenger lounge on the ferry trip home strapped into his Ergo carrier and me, desperately bouncing him up and down, up and down and trying not to burst into tears myself.
I’m pretty sure I hadn’t showered or even brushed my hair or teeth. The tears of exhaustion were lingering just beneath the surface.
A middle-aged woman sitting in the lounge kept trying to catch my eye. I did everything I could to avoid eye contact with her. I didn’t want anymore advice. I didn’t need to hear what I should be doing, or shouldn’t be doing. I knew I was split seconds away from crumpling in frustration and humiliation, and I had no idea how I was going to hold it together through more words of well-meant, but unwanted, advice.
She talked to me anyways, “How old is your baby?”
“Almost 4 months” My carefully guarded tears started brimming over.
What she said next caught me off-guard.
She said, “You’re doing a great job.”
And I promptly burst into tears. The floodgates opened, and there I was, standing amidst a sea of strangers, bawling my eyes out.
This woman knew nothing about me. She didn’t know how exhausted I was, or how alone I felt. Or how I was so completely overwhelmed with being a mother to this little person.
But she knew exactly what I needed to hear.
This woman saved me that day. And while I wasn’t about to do anything drastic, after I spoke with her I certainly felt like someone understood, like someone was there supporting me when I was feeling alone and at rock bottom. She listened to my story and made me feel like I was doing okay.
As mothers we need to look out for each other. We are not perfect. We are emotional and beautiful and vulnerable and aching for connection.
We need to feel like it’s ok to share our stories, to be at rock bottom, to ask for help, to feel completely clueless about our children and what the “right” decision is.
A few months after this woman spoke to me on the ferry, I found myself on the Pacific Post Partum Support Society website yet again. This time I was brave enough to pick up the phone and make the call to their support line and thus started my own uphill climb to wellness.
I think about that woman all the time. Here words were so simple – “you’re doing a great job.” We don’t say that to each other enough. We don’t acknowledge the tough jobs we have as moms. We need to recognize one another, celebrate one another, lift each other up when we’re having crappy days.
That’s why I created the Good Mother Project. Initially, it began as a Mother’s Day photo session promotion (I’m a photographer), with all proceeds from the session fees being donated to Pacific Post Partum Support Society. But as word spread, and moms heard about it, more stories started to emerge. More women and more mothers wanted to share their stories. Each woman had the same sentiment: she wanted to share her story so that others in the same boat would not feel so alone.
What started out as simple photo sessions celebrating moms, has now turned into a full website with a blog of stories from mothers all over North America. Their stories have been shared hundreds of times, all over the world, and the site has only been up for a couple weeks. It’s unbelievable, overwhelming, heart-warming and awe-inspiring all in one.
As mothers, we are so connected by the experience of motherhood. We understand each other, we know the hardships, the heartache, the joy.
We’re in this together. And we’re all doing a great job.
If you want more information about Eran’s photography project or want to get involved please visit The Good Mother Project: