When I first became a mom, I struggled. Having moved to the United States after getting married a couple of years before, my entire family was overseas, which meant my mom (who cannot fly) was overseas.
I’ve always been incredibly self-sufficient without even thinking about it. Becoming a first-time mom without my mom or immediate family around was challenging. Post-partum depression was not something I ever even considered could affect me. I was the strong one, I was the go-getter. I had already been living away from my family and my native land for so many years. The whole motherhood experience was shining the brightest spotlight light on my painful lack of strength—rather, on my incorrigible self-reliance.
It’s hard to explain why the switch flipped, but it’s very clear when it happened. I picked up my newborn baby from his swing and I was carrying him to his bedroom to change his diaper. Anyone who’s ever been around newborn babies knows this is an exercise you do all day long—countless, infinite times a day. We lived in a tiny apartment, so the walk must have been all of 15 feet. But it was during that short little walk that the unmovable permanence of motherhood hit me like a tidal wave.
Life had always been very fluid, and I was always okay with that, it was comfortable. From the tiniest details like trying a different hairstyle every few months, or having an indecent number of shoes and purses so I could change my look with the occasion, to bigger things in life like going for new jobs or moving to another country on my own—change was always exciting for me. I’ve always appreciated different seasons. There’s just something magical about new beginnings.
So here I was, a new mom, likely the most exciting new beginning I’d ever experienced. And in just a few feet, I went from over the moon to down in the dumps when one simple thought crossed my mind . . . this is forever. Of course, I rationally knew I would not be changing poopy diapers forever. I wouldn’t be sleepless forever. My breasts wouldn’t be sore forever. I knew my baby boy would eventually be able to feed himself, clean himself, and survive on his own without depending on me.
But I would never again not be a mom. There’s no such thing as an ex-kid. You can be someone’s ex almost anything: ex-wife or ex-husband, ex-employee or ex-employer, ex-teacher or ex-student . . . but you can never be an ex-mom. And for whatever reason, that thought was overwhelming.
I did not look for help. I cried constantly, away from everyone, of course, because putting on a brave face and pretending everything is okay is an easy defense mechanism. Nobody knew, nobody questioned.
The only one who knew how much I was struggling was Jesus. While God collected the tears I cried alone, the Holy Spirit gently showed me how much I never actually relied on Him before. And while a close relationship with the Lord is essential—better yet, vital—to survive something like this, I cannot express how much the practical things mattered.
Yes, I missed my mom, and I wished she could be with me, mothering me as I learned to mother my baby, but now, all these years later, I can wholeheartedly say that the support system we had in place at that time in our lives made ALL the difference. By God’s impeccable timing, my husband was home more often (his job was seasonal at the time). My mother-in-law came over and did the laundry. Our church family had a meal train going for us, which lasted for weeks. These everyday life acts of kindness by the people in our lives marked me and changed part of me forever.
They meant so much to me that from that point on, I became much more intentional about being present and offering help to the women in my life whenever they go through a life-changing event, whether it is the birth of a baby or the death of a loved one, maybe she went through surgery or simply threw off her back. It doesn’t matter, I try to help. On purpose. I’m not perfect, and I often miss the cues, but to the best of my abilities, I want to support them.
My son is now eight years old, almost nine. So why am I sharing this now, so many years after that struggle? The short answer is because it’s time. What I mean by that is that God’s timing is perfect. I’ve been a writer for years, it’s a deep, God-given passion of mine. So when a friend of mine shared Her View From Home with me, I knew in my heart that it was time to share this experience.
Maybe you are reading this today and identify with what I went through as a new mom. You’re feeling overwhelmed, crying all the time, but also not wanting to share it with anyone. A baby is a blessing, right? How could you be feeling anything other than pure joy? Well, you are! Maybe you’re sad, short-fused, happy, tired, all in one big emotional smoothie—all at once. If that’s your case, please take this to heart: you do not have to do this alone. You don’t have to have it all together, and it’s okay to ask for help.
Maybe you’re not going through anything major in life right now, but my story immediately made you think of someone you know, that strong friend you have. The one who looks like she’s got it all together even though you know there’s a lot going on in her life. If that’s the case, here’s what I want to share: she can use some help. She will likely never ask for it, and you would not guess it, but she will appreciate it if you reach out. I know I did.