Motherhood changed me. There’s no doubt about it. I became less selfish, kinder, warmer and a much better version of myself. But there was the flip side to it. I lost myself a little. I love my children more than anything and I have loved every stage of their life so far. I strive to be the best mum I can possibly be. But there are certainly elements to motherhood that are made much more difficult when you suffer with anxiety.
You’re Not Alone.
At times it felt like I was the only one that felt so isolated. I love my children so much but I was losing myself whilst the anxiety monster on my shoulder got bigger.
However, with time I realised that I wasn’t alone. That other Mothers were going through what I was. Since those days, I have spoken to so many that have also felt the same. Although this is upsetting, it also is reassuring that I haven’t been alone in how I felt.
The Sunday Night Feeling.
Have you ever experienced the Sunday night feeling? Perhaps when you were a child, dreading the week of school ahead of you. Or maybe you were in a job that drained you and the thought of heading into the office in the morning made you want to press pause on life, like Bernards watch was capable of doing.
This is how I felt. Even though I had no school, no job. In fact, most would have dreamt of having the week ahead to choose what they wanted to do. But let me explain, having children and being 100% responsible for a life is the most daunting thing I have ever experienced.
When the boys started crawling, I had to baby proof my whole house and ensure that NOTHING that was a choking hazard was within reach. Then when they were weaning, I dreaded each meal time as I didn’t want them to choke. I watched countless videos on how to stop a child from choking.
Not forgetting cot death. Which doesn’t just happen in the cot but anywhere, anytime of day.
I was responsible for keeping these children alive. They meant the whole world to me and it was like pieces of my heart were now walking out in the outside world rather than safe inside my uterus. I would break if anything happened to them.
That is why I worried on a Sunday night. Because all weekend I had my husband there to share joint responsibilities. When he was around, I could go to the toilet, or drink a cup of tea without worrying that something would happen in the fraction of the time it took to boil a kettle.
As time went on, I realised I was capable of watching them and looking after them. But the worry of a parent is something unfathomable. And so I almost dreaded worrying for the entire week, worrying that I was doing something wrong. That’s why anxiety and motherhood don’t go together well. I worried anyway, then I worried more for this person I was caring for.
The Feeling Of Loneliness.
You’d think that by having company 24/7, you couldn’t possibly feel lonely. Well, you’d be wrong.
The loneliness you feel as a parent is entirely different to a loneliness when you are alone. It’s odd. But the only explanation is, that you feel trapped inside your head with all these thoughts and feelings which although you could try and express to your baby or toddler, they just wouldn’t cooperate back.
Only having a small tot to talk to is lonely. You crave attention and adult conversation. You word vomit the second you come into contact with another adult. Even if it’s your delivery man.
The loneliness is one of the most difficult things I faced. Even though I had my baby’s company, I still felt cut off from the outside world.
Self Care Is Forgotten.
When you have a small child, you are so focused on every ounce of their care and routine- that often, your own self care is forgotten or put on the back seat. This is what causes a lot of the anxious issues.
To help combat mental health issues such as anxiety, self care is essential. It helps to revitalise your soul and allow you to refresh. It stops you from becoming drained.
Unfortunately, when you are spending every waking hour tending to your baby or toddler, it’s often your needs that are placed to one side and ultimately this ends up creating issues further upstream.
The Changes Your Body Goes Through.
Another element that affects a lot of mothers, is their body changing. Obviously your body is put under so much strain when it is carrying a baby, and for some your body never goes back to the way it was.
This could be physical- such as a stomach that isn’t as flat as it used to be, or visible stretch marks (they do fade though).
Or it could be that the health of your body changes. My health certainly hasn’t been the same since my youngest. Either way, the changes your body go through are both incredible and miraculous, but they also put a strain on yourself and your confidence.
Fading Until You Just Become “Mum”.
It almost feels as if your uniqueness and your characteristics fade until you just become “Mum”. This is most likely due to the fact that you get next to no time to yourself. Your whole life revolves around your little ones, so what made you “you”, is less apparent.
You are tired, exhausted, drained. You live off few hours of sleep a night and I don’t think you ever truly catch up on sleep from those first few years. So whenever you do get time to yourself, you’re desperately trying to recharge your batteries, rather than having the time to enjoy a hobby.
Essentially, you feel like you lose your identity and become “mom”. Your former identity dissipates for a while.
It Does Get Easier.
What I can tell you, after years of experiencing the above, is that it does get better and easier. Everything settles down. When children get older, they become more independent and you’ll miss it when they weren’t. But it does mean you suddenly have these small gaps of time where you get to focus on yourself again. You’re less in demand, which means naturally you are less exhausted and drained.
My youngest started school just over a year ago. I kept crying at the thought of him going, I dreaded it. I suddenly felt “not ready” for my stay at home mum days to be over. But I’ve gotten used to the quiet now. I work from home, yet I don’t feel lonely. I feel like those hours in the day I am able to be me again, to work hard and achieve my own personal goals and to invest in myself. Then when I pick them up from school, I am so so happy to see their faces and we just strive to make the most of the time we have together.
As my boys have gotten older, they have become their own character and person. And my two are amazing. I laugh so hard with them now, they say the most funny things. They crack me up. They take notice of things I like and dislike and they help me out now. Infact they do take care of me and care for me. All of those years of hard work raising them from womb to toddlers, it’s paying off. They still need me a lot, but on a different level now. I also need them.
Motherhood gets easier. Parenting never gets easier but it is different. Each stage of your child’s life will have its ups and downfalls. But motherhood is different to parenting. Motherhood is a feeling, and it’s one that gets easier with time. So hang in there, you’ve got this.