family · parenting · womens issues

what’s Skirtember?

So if you look up on Google, it seems like it’s just a ploy to get people to post selfies. It certainly can be. If I had seen it in 2012 when it seemed to have started, I probably would have clicked on by. But someone had a great idea. Why not associate it with one of the things that make it so hard to be a mom to raise awareness of the thousands of women who suffer in silence from postpartum depression? I really hope this idea takes off. It should. Just like Noshavember became associated with manly parts… ahem…

Here are some things, in my opinion, that Skirtember should NOT be:

It is NOT about elevating moms to sainthood or giving us a pass for all wrongs. We already struggle, vascillating between our nagging self-doubt and our over-confidence “because I’m the mom” ego. Moms do NOT know everything and there is no magic that happens the second you give birth where you know what to do in all situations. Obviously. But that also isn’t an excuse to do whatever you want or what’s easiest or what’s in your comfort zone. It’s one thing to be ignorant. It’s another to remain ignorant. It’s also always wrong to be arrogant and pigheaded.

It is NOT about women with kids being somehow superior or more important than women without. If you are someone who has had trouble having children, or can not have children, I will understand completely if you don’t read my blog any more. I can empathize with the pain of being constantly reminded, whether it’s the seemingly endless posts of first day of school pics or all the almost funny stuff Junior says. It’s hard to be childless, by choice or otherwise, in our society. I’ve spent time on both sides of the fence now and I can say that it is much, much harder on the other side. I try to be conscious of that. Please forgive me when I’m not.

It is, similarly to above, NOT about demeaning men or separating them as clueless, inferior beings. This is so frustrating to me. For one thing, my husband has been through it all before, having two kids from a previous marriage. He is an amazing dad. He clearly learned many, many tricks and tools of the trade, so by the time we had our first, he was a pro. He taught me how to bathe a baby without freaking out. He taught me how to change a diaper without freaking out. He taught me to change a onesie without freaking out. I would have freaked out a lot more without him. But the main point is not how men can be “helpful” to us. My husband isn’t my servant. He is my partner. He can take care of the baby as well, albeit differently, as I can. There is such a thing as paternal instinct too. And regardless of how much time the baby spent physically in my body, I am not intrinsically the superior parent. There are people who will try to say otherwise. Those people are wrong.

It’s also NOT ten ways to be a better woman or how you can do it all or have it all. I hope that the people who pick up on this idea to raise awareness are pointed in the right direction. I hope that I can offer some help to anyone who stumbles across my blog. And in the end, I think that the more we talk about this very real struggle, the more hope we can have for not just getting through the day, but thriving and living purposefully and joyfully. But it won’t happen overnight and it won’t always look the way you think it should.

Postpartum depression was always a mystery. Maybe that’s because our understanding of science has only recently started catching up with science in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology. Instead of it being some dark scary room in the house of biology, research, and by default, funding, have concentrated on the very complex, physical and emotional strain of pregnancy and birth.

I’ve said before that becoming a mom was the hardest thing for me. I didn’t have trouble with the technicality of being a mom even though I was 39 which is considered “advanced maternal age,” (um moving on…) but when it came to dealing with all that was going on with my body and my heart and mind, it was exhausting and overwhelming.

If you had asked me when I was in my 20s about a woman who would struggle with postpartum depression, I would have said it’s really sad and I would have felt bad for her. But it would have been a generic kind of sympathy, offered for anyone who had a hard time at anything. I never in a million years would have believed that it was something I’d have to fight against and that it would be a struggle to get through each day as a new mom.

Being a mom should be natural, right?
All you need is love and intuition.
You’ll know exactly what to do.
Just like your mother and her mother before her.
Everyone goes through some emotional turmoil.
You’ll get over it.
You’re just tired.

These are all things people say to new moms. Things we believe. But when we get there, when it’s 4:30 in the morning and you haven’t slept a wink out of fear of something going wrong, or the baby screaming at the top of her lungs, or the pain of your delivery or c-section, or having to pee every 5 minutes, or, or, or… you feel like you are a complete failure and you realize Misery has never sat so close to your soul before.

Over the next few posts, I’ll be writing about some of the struggles I’ve had as a mom for the past 3 years. It’s part catharsis for me, though I am wonderfully blessed with a husband who truly my sun, moon, and stars, and I never would be where I am today and still full of hope and joy without him. Marry well. That’s really my best advice.

More than my own personal therapy, though, I want to join in the voices of those who are shedding more light on a complicated subject by bringing my own experience and what I have learned to the table. Suffering in silence is the worst option. Not admitting you need help is related too. NO ONE is meant to get through life on her own. No one. No one is strong enough, I don’t care who you are. Each of us is built for partnership, for strength in numbers, for love and fellowship. We are made for each other. This is what we need to do. To talk. To relate. To cry and laugh. Don’t do it all alone. Just like your baby can’t make it alone, we don’t grow out of needing love and care. It may change, even from day to day, and it may look differently over time, but we all need love and grace. More and more. We’ll never need less.

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