I was unfamiliar with the stay at home mom blues, when they struck, because for the majority of my mom hood, I’ve been a mom of one. She was a compliant, wiser than her years, totally my tiny buddy one; I never had to worry much about how I would do anything because she was so easy to do everything with.
She did nothing to prepare me for the last couple of years with two babies.
I’ve seen harried moms, before. I’ve known them. And I swore that I would never be them. After waiting years to go for baby number two, and experiencing three miscarriages in a 12 month period, I felt elated and totally prepared for our little bundle of joy who would make me a mother again.
When, as we were celebrating our sassy little seven month old girl, I found out that I was pregnant with baby number three, I started the fearful, guilt induced slide into SAHM depression. And despite everyone assuring me that going from 2 to 3 kids was a piece of cake, I was on the threshold of what would prove to be the most difficult year of my life.
By the time our sweet baby boy joined our family, I was drowning in the muck and mire of depression and wondering when I would ever feel like me again.
As such, I decided to grow out my usually short and blonde hair, and dye it a deep shade of brown. Unrecognizable. Un-special. Unimpressive. Unnoticeable.
I mean, it’s just hair, right? Except it was a mirror representation of how I felt on the inside. Dark. Dreary. Blah. Not myself.
Now, I don’t mean to imply that my kids (specifically my youngest) caused my blues, but rather the short period of time that I had to adjust from one to three children after experiencing just one for six years.
And because I felt guilty over my “oh my gosh how will I ever do this I am so not the mom who can handle two babies at once” reaction, I decided they should have every bit of me.
I didn’t deserve to do anything for myself. My husband would just have to understand that I was a mom now. The people around me would just have to accept that that’s all I was.
I stopped creating. I stopped blogging. I stopped planning my coaching business that I was in the midst of working on. I stopped assuming that I would be allowed, able, or worthy of doing anything outside of diaper changes and food preparations.
And technically, with the way my youngest goes through food and diapers, I might have been onto something with that last bit.
We had just recently moved away from our neighborhood, friends, and church community and settled into rural America. In fact, we chose this specific location based on the fact that we couldn’t see any of our neighbors. But when you’re spiraling into depression, not having anyone around to notice that you’ve not left your house in two weeks doesn’t help matters much.
I stopped doing anything with church. I withdrew from small group. I isolated myself from the ladies that I had recently begun to connect with. I turned myself into a hermit and convinced myself that that was what I wanted.
>> I was in pajamas all day every day. My kids were in pajamas all day every day. And I basically only remembered to brush my teeth when my husband called to tell me he was on his way home… because hello kisses.
>> My hair was dark, heavy, and unfamiliar to me and I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.
>> My body was different. Is different. And despite all of the Facebook posts assuring me otherwise, I literally did not have time to workout.
>> I was on a hamster wheel, always behind, always cleaning and not having anything look clean, always responding to someone else’s needs.
>> I didn’t want to leave my house because I didn’t want to be seen and I didn’t want to discuss all of the nothing I’d been up to since the last time I got out of the house.
>> I spiraled into straight up SAHM depression because I didn’t know how to address the blues.
As I began to come out of the fog of the year with two babies under two, I was able to see well enough to see I wasn’t well. One tough conversation with my concerned husband later, and I decided I needed to change things up in order to change some things.
So… I did what anyone would do in my position… I went shopping for new clothes that would make me feel good!
My mother has largely been a stay at home mom my entire life. Aside from the occasional odd job while I was growing up, and her empty nester foray into the work force, she’s been a homemaker.
And every morning, she would rise before my sisters and I woke up, shower, do her hair and makeup, and dress from head to shoe. Every. Morning.
I always sort of thought that that was pointless, being that most days she was planning to be home, but I see now that it wasn’t pointless at all.
As I type this, I’ve been doing the same thing for 11 days straight. This may not impress some of you, but this is bizarre for me. Yet it’s working! It feels so wonderfully different, so important, so professional, to approach my “career” as a homemaker with such respect!
Because much of what kept me from doing this in the first place was a lack of self-esteem, a lack of clothes which fit well and made me feel good, and a lack of undergarments that weren’t designed strictly to make nursing a breeze, I went shopping for new clothes.
I gave myself permission to buy the next size up in jeans and I haven’t looked back since.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human mastersColossians 3:23, NIV
>> I made a short list of daily to-do’s that would help me feel accomplished, even if I only got those few things done each day
>> I created a morning routine which involves the things I love, like quiet time and coffee.
>> Waking up before the kids means I get to decide how to start the day, not them.
>> I’ve made it a priority to meal plan, even if I forgot to make it a priority to meal cook.
>> I’ve made connections with other women. Literally picked up two moms at co-op and had my first girl’s night out dinner in months!
>> I made it my mission to plan more playdates out of the house. In fact, this week I only had one day where nothing was planned (and quickly realized, yet again, that that is not a schedule I can maintain without going crazy).
Getting dressed and ready was a game changer, for me. My daughter told me “you sing and dance more”, which was enough to keep me committed although the verdict is out on whether that’s necessarily a good result or not.
I’ll be the first to admit, it seems like such a simple, almost silly-to-have-to-say-it habit and yet I can’t deny the way it’s pulled me out of my rut and back into life.