pregnancy and parenthood

#NaBloPoMo – motherhood and mental health

*Photo by LuluEdward Photography*

I’ve been asked by a dear friend and fellow writer (follow her brilliant writing at usetheclutch.me) to join her in National Blog Posting Month, here after known as #NaBloPoMo – which makes the trained journalist (and military spouse in me) cringe – I loathe acronyms. 

NaBloPoMo November 2016But, I’m excited to join the ranks of other bloggers dedicated to challenging ourselves, building synergy, creativity, and sharing in this passion that can often feel both isolating and accessible to the world all in the same thought. That is perhaps the best part since starting this blog one year ago. What started as selfish way to channel my inner thoughts has evolved into a humble place of connecting with like-minded individuals, and for that I am grateful. So if you’re reading – thank you.

For the first time since starting this blog, I’ll be following daily prompts by BlogHer Writing Lab rather than writing what I want, when I want. I won’t lie, today’s prompt made me turn my nose up at first glance:

When you’re having a bad day with your mental health, what do you do to help yourself?

That’s the topic? I mean, I either ask my husband to get gelato or I pour myself a glass of wine and pray for a better day to follow, I stubbornly thought.

Then I sat on it as I walked through the predictable motions of my morning as a stay-at-home mom, which involves waking up way earlier than a night owl like myself should ever have to rise, followed by singing along to The Hot Dog Dance on “Mickey Mouse Club” for the 357,689th time, to playing with obnoxious plastic toys, to feeding the little human breakfast while my own stomach is growling – add in spilling my coffee on our ivory rug  today – to nursing away his first fussy spell circa 8:12 a.m. until – hallelujah – the first nap of the day.

And, breathe, before it repeats.

It’s a great question, actually, and it runs deeper as a mother. My emotional well-being has never been threatened as much as it has now. Being a mother, as I’ve said before, is an immense reward that comes with equally huge sacrifice. This sacrifice can chip away at our individuality as we have no shortage of love, but a shortage of time. I haven’t lost sight of myself, I’ve just lost time to focus on myself. This lack of self-care can leave us feeling worn out, stressed, frustrated, sad, anxious.

I could sit here and write about how I try to prioritize these pieces of me that get pushed to the wayside – how I try to put make-up on, throw lavender oil in my baths, meal plan for my health, get to yoga once a week, engage my adult brain with freelance work, and read marriage books to better myself as a wife. I do many things to try to focus on me with what little I have left to give after I’ve cared for my baby all day and all night.

But none of these little things add up to a cure to keeping my emotional well-being. I have bad days because I’m supposed to have bad days. The biggest thing I can do – that any of us can do – is find acceptance with where we are in our lives.

I accept that my baby isn’t crying because he’s trying to be a jerk. It’s because he needs something and he’s trying to communicate that with me. I accept that the spilled coffee on the rug does suck, but if it’s the biggest of my worries then I’m pretty damn lucky. I accept that the extent of my adult time is the 5-10 hours a week I can carve out for my profession, knowing that this is just a phase (more on the phases of motherhood).

I accept that I’m 10 pounds curvier postpartum, and that my body has just done a miraculous thing in growing a life. I accept that most days I won’t have time to put make up on – or real pants – but at least my baby will be cute. I accept that my marriage will be challenged, but that our vows were meant to be actions and not just words.

I accept the honesty it takes to recognize when my health is off, and I accept the work that it takes to prioritize it.

I accept where I’m at in my life on both good days – and bad days.

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