I often get the opportunity to speak at mother's groups and playgroups. I always tell of my story about my postnatal depression and how it led to the never ending cycle of anger, guilt, self-hatred and feeling like a bad mother. I always speak of the day that I nearly hit my child with a knife, how I completely fell apart and how I had that epiphany right in the middle of my breakdown.
When I'm finished telling my story I always ask mums, 'Put your hand up if you can relate sometimes to feeling the way that I did.'
Do you know that I have never had a mum NOT put her hand up?
I even had a mother burst into tears by all the raised hands as she realised that she was not alone in her feelings.
You see it's so easy to feel like you are alone on this journey through motherhood. For some reason it seems to be taboo amongst mums to be struggling and to feel any emotion that is not showered in lovey, dovey, warm and fuzziness for our children.
But, come on, I know that not every mother feels this way 24/7. Does anyone feel that way about anything 24/7? No way. Motherhood is tough and there are going to be days (sometimes a lot of days consecutively) where things are horrible. Your child is going to give you a hard time, go through stages and learning phases that are frustrating, and sometimes we are going to behave far from the parent we would like to be.
This happens to EVERY mum. Yes, even that calm, natural mum that we all know. She gets frustrated at times too. Perhaps it just doesn't last very long for her because she has a mindset that 'doesn't take it personally' and can see it as a temporary thing. Perhaps that calm, natural mum (in our opinion) just knows that this is only a small part of the mothering experience. Or perhaps that mum really is struggling, but has become very good at keeping up the facade of the calm, natural mum (gee, I had that down pat.)
The reality is that you are not alone. Every mum has days or moments where it all becomes too much and she feels like running away, or at least wishes she was somewhere else,
not having to deal with what's in front of her.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, then please don't feel like you are a failure. Know that you are not alone and perhaps begin talking to a trusted friend who can understand and relate.
We need to start supporting each other as mums. I used to put up a facade and I now realise that this was not helpful to myself, nor was it helpful to other mums around me, as by feigning this 'perfect mother' identity, I participated in the continuation of the 'perfect mother' facade.
Now, the Be the Change program and The Happy Mum Handbook is my attempt at showing mums, that it's okay to feel the way you are sometimes. You are not an ogre if you get angry or make mistakes. All it means is that you have something to learn and new thinking to practice.
Motherhood can be the greatest personal development of your life. You just need to stop hating on yourself so much and start looking at different resources that will teach you how to do things differently.