Mental Health/Wellness Motherhood

To The Struggling Mama From The Other Side Of The Struggle

Written by Brea Schmidt

I don’t know that the memory will ever go away.

The day that I was sitting on my bedroom floor folding laundry . . . and the world seemed to shift in an instant. I felt nauseous and scared. My mouth got dry. I felt like my bones were about to start slowly snapping apart like the Titanic did before it went underwater.

It had been several months leading up to that moment that I was drowning in the imbalance of life, work and motherhood . . . and all of it was coming to a head.

At the time, my kids were a fragile four, two, and six months, and understandably needed me for everything. In fact . . . I felt needed everywhere I turned.

I even felt like the walls of my house had arms pushing me from room to room showing me its laundry that needed folding, its floors that needed sweeping and its toilets that needed scrubbing. At the same time, three sets of other little arms were pulling me in the other direction for meals, diaper changes and playtime. I felt the computer reaching for me . . . reminding me that there were work emails to write and people who needed to read my writing.

I felt surrounded by family and friends with outstretched arms needing my love, support or help because I had always been “their person” for that . . . but I didn’t know how to explain why I couldn’t be . . . even though I wanted to.

I felt the pull in EVERY direction besides the one that I needed the most—which was the pull from within.

From my heart.

A heart that was desperately trying to pull me back in and remind me to slow down . . . take care of myself . . . and BREATHE.

But I wasn’t listening. And that day on my bedroom floor was the day my mind and body suffered because of it. I had been pulled apart.

I ran outside to my husband and begged him to help me. All of the anxiety and the stress and the pressure came pouring out. I fell into his arms and cried a cry that wouldn’t allow words to come out with it.

But I didn’t need to say anything. He knew.

He had been watching me sink out of the joyful person I had always been . . . and resurface as a shell of who I used to be.

I wasn’t OK.

The pressure to be the perfect mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter, business owner, writer . . . it was all too much. I couldn’t pretend anymore. I couldn’t look in the mirror one more day and wonder if I was good enough to raise my kids. I couldn’t face another phone call with a friend or family member seeking help that I didn’t have to give. I couldn’t continue to marinate in the guilt that I felt for feeling this way when I knew how blessed my life was. I couldn’t miss out on the joy anymore.

When I caught my breath, I said to him, “This has to stop. They need me. You need me. I need me.”

And I knew it was time to start taking steps to make a change . . . and I vowed to it that day.

I started reading books about positivity. I started saying “no” to things that put added stress on our schedule. I started meditating. I started getting back to doing things that brought me joy. I started opening up to people in my trust circle and asking for help. I started putting money aside to use for babysitters when I needed a break. I cut back on my work. I chose more playtime with my kids and less time obsessively cleaning. I acknowledged when negative thoughts entered my mind, and forced myself to replace them with gratitude.

I SLOWED DOWN.

I realized that if I didn’t start taking care of “me” I would never be able to be the mom I wanted to be and to live with the SPIRIT I have always wanted to embody.

It took time. And a lot of work. But I got here. And while every day isn’t perfect, every day doesn’t drown me like it used to. I finally feel like it’s “me” living inside of my body . . . and that my kids have the mom they deserve.

It’s not easy to look back on the struggle. It was so confusing and sad that it happened at a time when, in my mind, I should have been the happiest I had ever been with three healthy kids, a loving husband and family, loyal friends, and a successful business.

But stronger than that sadness is the gratitude I feel that it happened.

Because I have come to learn that there is a message in every struggle that’s meant to help us or lead us in a different direction.

And today, I write this on a couch that sits in a room that is tornadoed with toys and dishes from yesterday . . . but all I notice is the fact that the sun just came through my windows.

Because for the last year and a half, I have FOUGHT. I have fought to see the positive in the midst of negative distractions. I have fought for myself and the belief that self-care is imperative. I have fought the side of my brain that makes me believe that the state of my house matters more than time with my kids or time to give my body some pause. I have fought off the social media push of perfection. I have fought to honor the person I am outside of my mothering role so that I can be a whole person when it’s time to be there for my kids.

I fought to find the purpose in that tough time in my life. And while I have found many “reasons,” there’s one that stands out the most.

I truly believe God put that experience in my path so I could be an ally for other women going through similar experiences. For another mom who yearns to find her joy again.

To remind her that she’s not alone.
To remind her that she is seen.
To remind her how beautiful she still is in the midst of her struggle.
To remind her that it’s OK to take care of herself.
To remind her that it’s not selfish to honor her passions.
To remind her that it’s OK to say “no” to something if it means bringing more peace to her mind and her family.
To remind her that it’s OK if she made a parenting mistake.

To remind her that everything she is . . . is everything her kids need.

To remind her that she’s doing a great job . . . and that she’s going to be OK.

Because you ARE going to be OK, mama.

I see the tears welling up in your eyes. I see you exhausted from trying to keep up. I see you needing joy again. I see you wanting desperately to just be able to “be” without the pressures and judgement.

Go fight for you.

Go BE.

Because everything you are is beautiful . . . and more than enough.

 

Because you ARE going to be OK, mama. I see the tears welling up in your eyes. I see you exhausted from trying to keep up. I see you needing joy again. I see you wanting desperately to just be able to "be" without the pressures and judgement. Go fight for you. Go BE. Because everything you are is beautiful . . . and more than enough.

About the author

Brea Schmidt

​Brea Schmidt is a writer, photographer and mom advocate who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch.  She also owns the Ohio-based family photography business Photography by Brea.  When she isn’t writing, photographing or Mom-ing her three kids under the age of five, you can usually find her listening to country music or aggressively cheering for her favorite sports teams.