I have been super down lately. Feeling trapped, feeling the walls closing in with no end in sight. Feeling ashamed that I have so much to be thankful for and yet still feel this way. I was able to have three healthy babies, I have a home and supportive family and friends- I have no right to be down. But I have been and after talking to Emmett last night, I figured out why. It all comes down to two things: Exercising and Socializing.
My mother asked me yesterday what specifically was bothering me the most- after mentioning the dirty house, the inability to escape, I realized it had to do with how much my children “need” me right now. They are all so little and can do very little for themselves. They need me to wipe their butts, hold them, play with them, and strap them in their car seats. They all want more of me even though I feel like I have nothing left to give. I’m sure one day I will wish they needed me more but for now, it is an overwhelming responsibility. How did I get here?
Abandoning them is not an option and I am not considering daycare, so how do I make the most of my time with these little girls? How do I take care of myself while taking care of them? I exercise and I socialize.
It dawned on me that things started to go downhill for me after Aurora returned to school in the Fall, which is precisely when I stopped attending my regular Stroller Strides class since Emma’s nap falls at exactly the same time. Stroller Strides provides me not just the opportunity to sweat but also to commiserate with moms who have children the same ages as mine. It goes without saying that we all were probably up multiple times the night before, that we are feeling overwhelmed, and that we have an undeniable and fierce love for our babies. Simply surrounding myself with these mommas gives me a feeling of “belonging”- it validates my feelings all while I release endorphins by running, squatting or planking out my stress.
Although I have been jogging after Emma wakes up or using exercise videos while she naps, I have isolated myself by doing so. Moreover, I injured my foot a week ago and haven’t been able to exercise at all which has led me to the darkest hours I felt this past weekend.
I knew I had to reach out and tell someone how I was feeling. I didn’t want sympathy or encouragement, I just wanted somebody to know. So I told a couple of friends who recommended a therapist and some medication. The therapist I have but the medication, I am not ready for. I used medication when I suffered from insomnia as a teacher and it led to a dangerous dependency I fear succumbing to again.
Instead, my husband listened to me last night. And in talking to him, I realized the medicine I needed: more exercise, more socializing. If I can’t make it to my Stroller Strides classes right now, I will need to schedule some more Mommy Night’s Out. Now that my foot has healed, I will need to lace my shoes up and run the stress out.
We all have different needs- some of us may need the medication. Some of us may need to slow down. Some of us may need to hire extra help. The one thing we all need is the ability recognize where we are at the present moment. I could have hidden my feelings. I could have “coped” or pretended everything was ok. But I’m not ok. I’m struggling. Recognizing where I am presently is the first step. Speaking it out loud to someone else is the next. After identifying the biggest issue, the final step is to discover the antidote and use it repeatedly until we dig ourselves out of the hole we can’t see out of.
I see the light, now. I exercise and I socialize to refuel my empty tank. My girls want more of me, all of the time, and now I finally feel like I have something to give.
Feature image by Camille Vaughan Photography