Most of us have seen a Huggies commercial before—the ones that come on during our favorite show or in between a news segment. You know the commercials: a well-rested, clean and joyful mother snuggles her newborn baby. But if you’ve ever had a newborn, you know reality looks a bit different. Weeks after delivery, exhaustion sets in, and you barely have time for a shower let alone a nap. Although you do feel the joy of holding your baby, you also feel like you’re on a total emotional roller coaster—up one minute and down the next.
Recently, I was talking to three of my girlfriends on separate occasions about the highs and lows of motherhood. One is my college roommate and lifelong sister-friend, the second is a newer friend, and the other is a friend from church. After reflecting on these conversations, it dawned on me how little we all actually knew about motherhood prior to becoming mothers. Now granted, you can never fully understand all that motherhood entails until you become a mother. However, we discovered that there are so many basic things we were unaware of regarding pregnancy, birth, and motherhood overall. In our respective conversations, we began to question why this was the case.
Why aren’t women more transparent about the lows of motherhood? Whether we are speaking to women with or without kids, we shy away from some of the hard truths. Is it because we fear looking weak or incapable of juggling it all flawlessly? Is it because we don’t want our honesty to scare off women from starting their own motherhood journey? Whatever the reason, we could all benefit from being more open with our struggles. If you find yourself in a low place on your motherhood journey, here are three coping strategies I recommend giving a try!
Be Honest with Yourself
I remember being increasingly agitated after I had my older son. Although he was able to nurse right away, he was extremely colicky. No matter how many foods I eliminated from my diet, his tummy was always upset. For a few months I was determined to continue nursing him regardless. But eventually, his pediatrician recommended that we try a specialized formula. Initially, I was devastated. I felt like a failure because my original plan was not working. Acknowledging that I had given my best effort, I had to be honest with myself and do what was best for my baby.
If you feel exhausted because you’re sleep deprived or you’re struggling with nursing, it’s okay. Understand that you are not alone–so many mothers feel the exact same way you do. Be honest about your feelings so that you can work through them. I suggest starting a mommy journal. Take the time to write down your highs and lows each day or as often as you can. It doesn’t matter how big your win for the day may have been—don’t discount it. Give yourself credit where it’s due and be patient with yourself in the other areas.
When we are honest and allow ourselves to feel emotions, we admit that we cannot do everything by ourselves. Many of us have felt the pressure to live up to society’s unspoken expectations of mothers. Often, we can drive ourselves half-crazy trying to ensure that our children are well behaved, our figures are “perfect,” and our careers are thriving. Meanwhile, you could actually be suffering from depression, anxiety, or some other mental health disorder. But instead of being transparent so that we can offer support to one another, many of us discuss motherhood through rose colored lenses. Even though it has many highs, the motherhood journey comes with many lows. Don’t be scared to share your feelings with your spouse, friends, or family.
If you don’t already have one, I recommend establishing a core group of mothers you can call on to get advice, share ideas, or just vent. If your toddler hasn’t been hitting their milestones and you’re concerned something may be wrong, talk to your mom tribe in addition to speaking with your pediatrician. Chances are someone else has had a similar experience and can offer mental and emotional support. When we stop being afraid of vulnerability, we are more likely to ask for the help we need. I have six ladies that I refer to constantly and for different reasons. Variety within your mom circle is beneficial, mainly because you get a few different perspectives. Sometimes just hearing from other mothers can help ease your qualms, answer your questions, and encourage you to keep going!
Be Willing to Ask for Help
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; in fact, it’s the exact opposite. It takes a secure person to admit that she needs help. Whether you’re overwhelmed with chores at home or feel you’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown, ask for assistance. Talk to your husband about sharing responsibilities around the house if you don’t already share them. If you can swing getting a cleaning crew to come through every so often, do that. Do whatever you need to do to make your load a little lighter. If you’re drowning emotionally, don’t be ashamed to seek out a therapist in addition to prayer. Talking to someone who’s objective may change your perspective and, ultimately, make you feel less burdened. Asking for help is better than suffering in silence.
Regardless of which phase of motherhood you are currently in–infants, kids, teens, or young adults–there will always be challenges. However, these challenges do not have to overtake us. We can choose to address them head on—together.
How do you cope with the highs and lows of motherhood? Drop a comment below. I want to hear from you!