re-releasing the tiger
The following is a bit of an explanation of my silence over the past few months. My excitement to work on this project has been somewhat put on hold as I moved to a new home with my partner and our four children. It was an intense amount of preparation and a busy few months of starting to get unpacked and settled.
In the fall when I felt I had the time, I took the opportunity to dive into this project. I was feeling shaky as I left home - merging two families is no easy business, and feeling exhausted I decided to get a giant coffee and hit the notebook.
In this book, I not only want to capture stories from other parents, but also my own. This means taking time to reflect, remember and recount the first year of my son’s life.
Every little detail. The more the better. The more raw the more perfect. To capture the humour in a useful way, it means allowing myself to be brutally honest.
And let’s face it. No one can be brutally honest with themselves about a year’s worth of depression in a public place.
I began at the beginning, combing over the details of the day I woke up with contractions and would eventually, early the next morning, give birth to my son.
Not even 30 minutes later, I was in my car weeping like an out of control child.
Why was this so hard? And more importantly, why hadn’t I been able to control myself?
I came to realize there are still a lot of very raw and unhealed wounds around my own experiences with PPD, and I have not fully prepared myself emotionally to tackle them, especially since I had been focusing my energy on first healing from a broken marriage and now merging with my new family. I underestimated my own emotional exhaustion, thinking my gung-ho attitude would pull me through.
But that doesn’t mean this isn’t still happening. It is. Just much more slowly that first anticipated.
Hang in there, everybody. I’m still here. Just moving at a pace that doesn’t find me crying in my car again.
From Another Mother Pre-Interview Survey
I’m looking forward to scheduling interviews with parents over the coming months. Before we sit down, I’d like a better idea of what topics you’d be interested in talking about.
Please fill out the following survey if you’re interested, or share with someone you think might be interested.
No, folks, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth quite yet.
I am excited, humbled, and overwhelmed by the amazing response I’ve received from mothers and parents who want to share their stories with me. I am currently in the process of creating a loose interview schedule that will be taking place over the summer months and into the fall.
I have, however, been a little silent due to some other excitement in my life. Recently, my fiance and I purchased a home - a home that will find us merging our two families! In the next month, my best friend and I, along with my son and my three absolutely amazing step-kids, will be moving into our first home together.
Naturally, I’ve been scrambling to pack my junk and cull the junk to bring all our junk together! Yay for merging junk!
If this is your first time here and you’re interested in getting involved, please don’t hesitate to email me (and don’t be alarmed if it takes a few days for me to respond), and if you’re checking in, don’t worry… more soon.
From Another Mother: An Intro
Dear friends of varying shapes, sizes and friendliness who won’t mind my use of foul language,
On May 10th, 2009 at 4:53 am, Mother’s Day, I gave birth to my amazing son.
On May 10th, 2009 at 4:59 am, when the nurse brought me a day old bran muffin and a styrofoam cup of rice krispies, I began my year long battle with postpartum depression.
As I held my son in one arm and nibbled bits of crusty bran with the other, I stared at him. Through the muffin crumbs on his tiny, smooshed face he seemed to say “We’re in for one heck of a ride, mama.”
We would be.
It seems every mother and child share a story like this. The wild ride of emotions faced in the beginning of the journey of motherhood is, I believe, universal.
A gorgeous mix of weeping at the overwhelming miracle of life,
… of weeping at the overwhelming and pervasive exhaustion of learning to breastfeed through reruns of Law and Order at 3 am,
… of weeping at the overwhelming disappointment of not fitting into your pre-pregnancy jeans after the first week like your best friend Cindy (that beautiful, beautiful, skinny bitch!!!!),
… of weeping at the overwhelming sadness of when the seam of your sock just won’t line up with your toes and why is he still crying I just fed him and I just want to run into the woods and be crushed by a falling tree and then have my body torn apart by ravenous birds who will take me away from this awful, awful place and ohmygod I’m such a horrible mother seriously though why can’t I stop crying why is this happening to me I am a disgusting horrible person and DON’T TOUCH ME AND WHY HAVE MY TITS BEEN OUT OF MY SHIRT FOR WHAT FEELS LIKE
… of weeping when for a moment you’re distracted from the despair of your crooked sock seams when he smiles for the first time (and no it wasn’t just gas, mom. God. All you want to do is see me fail. ALL YOU EVER WANTED WAS TO SEE ME FAIL!)
If you made it through without similar breakdown, congratulations, you’re officially some kind of magical mama unicorn or something. If, like me and seemingly every other mother I’ve talked to, you struggled with navigating the broad range of hormone and exhaustion-fueled emotions, I offer you this.
Postpartum depression (or “baby blues” or “I’m just really tired because I haven’t slept in one million hours”) is serious, and I am not here to make fun of it. I urge women, all women, all families, to seek the support they need to make it through, and I call out to families and communities to support mothers. We grow humans, and damnwell deserve your love and respect! What helped me most through these times were the deeply honest stories of other mothers who worked hard to balance motherhood with wanting to constantly destroy anyone who asked “so, he’s not sleeping yet?”
There are plenty of books and resources new mothers can turn to for ”joyful” encouragement. There are far fewer places for new mothers to read about other new mothers losing their shit, sharing a laugh, and realizing that you’re likely not the only woman in history to yell at your newborn baby for waking up demanding a boob right as you begin to shovel chicken wings in your mouth after weeks of not eating a hot meal. These are the stories I intend to collect and share here.
I’m looking for mothers (and fathers!) who are willing to share an anecdote or two that will be edited into a short chapter. Think “Chicken Soup for the Soul” only with lots of material about cleaning baby shit off the wall while you cry about your old vagina. The final product will be a book that every mother will share with every mother to be (or the unsold boxes will be piled in my garage and eventually burned at my wake.)
And I’d love for you to be a part of it. Granted, not everyone is comfortable sharing these kinds of details, and I understand that. It takes a lot of courage to be honest about those moments that you often, as a mother looking back on your child’s first year(s) might deeply regret (as I know I do.) But know that you are in a safe place. My shoulders are soft and were once covered in baby vomit. I believe that these kinds of stories share strength and wisdom that is often overlooked.
I’m still forming how I’ll collect these stories, and am open to a variety of methods. A phone call. An email interview. Sitting in a coffee shop. A nice box or seven of wine in my livingroom. If you are willing to share with me, I am willing to listen in whatever venue you are most comfortable. Your names would be changed if you prefer to remain anonymous. You can even choose a cool alias like “Nancy Karatekid” or “Gladys Laser Fists” or “Tim the Enchanter.”
If you are interested, I want to hear from you. If you know of someone who might be interested, please share this with them along with my contact information. Mothers of any age are welcome to participate - fathers, too! I’ve already collected stories from mothers who are still in the throes and throw-ups of their babies’ first year, right through to women who are grandmothers who have frighteningly entertaining tales of transitioning out of their Twilight Sleep into a one room-apartment where the baby slept in a padded turkey roaster.
I truly look forward to hearing from you, hearing your stories, and sharing a good belly laugh (or belly cry… that’s when we compare extra stomach skill and/or c-section scars and cry a little) about this zany, heartwarming, blood-curdling thing known as motherhood.