No one really talks about the loneliness, anxiety, stress, fatigue, and depression that comes along with becoming a mother. It’s something with which most women suffer in silence, like wearing a cold dark blanket. While most moms do experience all of this ugliness on some level, some of us are hit harder than others. For me, in the beginning, I struggled with the loneliness, stress, and exhaustion quite a bit, which I felt was normal for a first time mom (a single mom, at that). Despite having a very supportive family, I slowly realized I was still having feelings on the ugly side.
As I have battled anxiety issues in the past, I decided to seek out my therapist and begin regular sessions again. This meant leaving my son for one hour every other week, which added to my anxiety level. However, the benefit of the end result was greater than the immediate stress of leaving him.
I also realized I needed more time to myself. I have none. My son and I share a bedroom, so we are literally together 24/7. I started taking my mom friends up on their offers to watch my main man, so I could do something, anything, for myself, alone!
I have also decided to finally sleep train for naps. Just writing this makes me anxious! The plan is to have a week of alone time (because we live with family who can’t stand listening to him cry) and dive into nap sleep training. I used the CIO (cry it out) method when he was one year old for night time sleep, but I never tackled naps.
He’s never been a good sleeper and continues to wake up one to three times each night, so I always go into survival mode with naps and do whatever I need to do to get him to sleep. My end goal is for him to be able to nap in his crib. Fingers crossed this works, mamas! I will update you once our week alone is in the books.
I also continue to remind myself that it’s okay to have the feelings I am having. Raising a child is hard and toddlerhood is a whole other beast! Many moms feel like they need an escape, a vacation alone, even just a day for themselves. Guess what. We ALL deserve that, so the next time you find yourself feeling guilty because you want to run away, take a moment to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and make a plan to carve out some time just for you.
It’ll be okay, if your child cries when you leave; they will be safe with a sitter, play date friend, or family. As I wrote about in The Flight Attendant Approach to Surviving Motherhood, you must first put on your own oxygen mask in order to help those around you. Stay tuned for The Ugly Side: Part 2!