I have a friend who wears motherhood. Or motherhood wears her. It’s entangled in her hair, etched on her face, her voice speaks of it and her posture encompasses it. Her eyes tell the story of proper and utter shell-shock. I adore her for it. She is even more beautiful because of it. We all feel it, but while most of us try to hide behind gloss on the lips or neat hair or anything that diverts attention from our disillusionment, she wears it like it is. No excuses offered. Motherhood is not merely, as one father said the other day, an ‘evolvement’ of life into something more beautiful. It’s teeth-grinding, pulling-out-your-hair, shockingly hard. So much so, that another friend of mine’s son rightfully asked the question the other day, “Mommy, your life with me in it is hard, is it not?”
It was during the first year of baby number two when I woke up one morning and realized I was in trouble. That morning, my brain could not tell my body how to do basic things like get up, walk to the kitchen and put on the kettle. Doing the everyday things that I did just the day before, seemed completely impossible. I was numb and exhausted. Disillusionment with motherhood hung like an oversized, black mantle over my whole being, the mere weight of it making a next move too much to bear.
My doctor said that postpartum depression was mainly caused by a lack of five things in a new mother’s life, these being sleep, touch, sitting down to eat properly, laughter and exercise. Together with hormonal imbalances, some levels in a mother’s brain can become depleted. Of course, I lacked these five things severely and it made sense to me at the time, having experienced that my brain literally could not tell my body what to do, that I needed medication to correct these imbalances. And so I embarked on this journey. A journey that, in hindsight, was actually caused by a lack of love.
Yes, a lack of love. I look back on the first years of both my children’s lives and realize that I was just as desperately in need of unconditional love and acceptance as my little children were. I needed to feel safe and immersed in unfathomable, touchable love as I tried to feel my way blindly through the new role that was motherhood. I needed complete acceptance and understanding of the fears and uncertainties I instantly developed. The fact that I did not receive this was nobody’s fault. It was life. You had to walk in my unique shoes and every single person in my life had to walk in theirs. The truth is, new mothers often feel very alone. I know I did. Long lost are the days when close family moved into the house to take care of the mother so the mother could focus mainly on taking care of the baby and make the transition gracefully.
We are wired for love. We were created by God, who is love and we need to be immersed in this love to live abundantly. Especially as new mothers, we need to be unconditionally assured of who we are and valued as what we have become when our babies were born. Because everything changes for us, for the rest of our lives. For the better, yes, but the emotional burden a mother carries unbeknownst to all is incredible. But all this is bearable when we are tangibly surrounded by unconditional love and acceptance. We need to feel safe again as little girls in loving parents’ homes. Then we can freak out, because we know we are loved and accepted. It’s when fear and uncertainties begin to take over that things like postpartum depression develop. For me, the cause of this was definitely the nagging feeling of uncertainty and loneliness while I gave all the love and energy I had to my little children.
What do mothers need? We need the love of our mother, because there is no love like a mother’s. We need the love of a father, who protects his daughter against fear and uncertainties. We need the love of parents who think the world of us just because they chose to bring us into this world. We need the love of our parents and parents-in-law, who just appreciates the fact that we are bringing up a next generation and trying our best with what we have while doing so. We need the love of our husbands even more than the day we got married and even though our personalities and priorities completely change. We need the unconditional acceptance of our friends. We need to be safe. We do not need to be judged. We need to be loved by our Father’s love that manifests through family and friends.
Today, I pray for all mothers who experience a lack of love for whatever reason. I pray for those disillusioned to the core. I urge you to not hide behind gloss on the lips or neat hair, but to wear it unapologetically like my friend does. For it will make you even more beautiful and strong. Then you will know that you are not alone.