When my second child was born it felt like our family was complete and that we’d all live happily ever after. I’d had very little problems with my first child and was loving motherhood so I figured a second child would be no problem.
But I was completely unprepared for the stress and demands of raising two young children. Not only did I have a newborn that needed my love and attention 24/7 but also a toddler trying to deal with suddenly having to share me.
Raising two children felt like three times the amount of work and I quickly became exhausted, overwhelmed and angry. And with most of my days spent alone with my children that anger usually came out at my toddler. I had no patience left and would yell at my daughter constantly. I’d often say the first thing that came to mind, and it was rarely nice. I felt like a monster who was failing her children and family.
That’s when I called Pacific Post Partum Support Society. The woman I spoke with was so kind and understanding, for the first time she made me feel like maybe I wasn’t so horrible, that maybe I was just doing my best under difficult circumstances. With her encouragement I started seeing a counselor who helped me realize how hard I was being on myself. I had given myself high and unattainable expectations and when I failed I’d be angry with myself and take it out on the wrong person.
My counselor asked me to write a list of all the negative things I said to myself and beside it a list of the positives. While my list of negatives was long, I struggled to even find a couple positives. As I looked at that list I realized that I would never have allowed another person to talk to me like that, so why was it okay for me to say those things to myself? How could I love my children the way I wanted to, when I didn’t even love myself? How could I give them patience and understanding when I had none of those for me?
By giving myself the space to be imperfect and acknowledge that I was in fact a good mother trying her hardest, I was able to let go of some of the guilt and shame that I carried.
I am still a work in progress but at least now I know I will probably always be one, and that’s okay.
We’re In This Together is a photography series, coordinated in partnership with the Pacific Post Partum Support Society and the Good Mother Project, that offers messages of encouragement, hope, support and love to new parents.
For more information on how you can share your message, please visit: http://goodmotherproject.com/were-in-this-together