Written by WOC leader, mama of 3, amazing hand-stander- Tanya Bates
Wild Outsiders Club had our first Mental Health Clinic for mamas earlier this month ran by Erin of Yarrow Therapy. One of the sweet mamas attending asked a question that instantly got me super emotional and I was perplexed as to why? In that moment I realized I had buried away thoughts I used to have when I was raising my babes. In sharing them with you, my hope is to help other mamas realize they are not alone and in turn, support one another through these hard times. We had 60+ mamas attend the clinic and were expecting around 10, 20 tops. This little tidbit screams to me, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The theme at our mamas night was “Stand in your own place and know you are there.” Our therapist gave so many wonderful ways to help but this question really stood out to me. When you’re having a terrible day she said to ask yourself, “What would I tell a friend on their worst days?” What a simple, wonderful thought. I had my first baby almost 10 years ago now. Here is a view into my life during that time:
Call me mama. When I was pregnant with my first born, these words were so powerful and exciting to me! I had waited so long! I was counting down the days until my firstborn would be in our lives. I got ALL the daily reminders with the fun facts about him growing in my belly. I loved being pregnant! Imagine my surprise when these feelings turned to terror, fear, and anxiety once I had him in my arms. It blindsided me! I will never forget the terror that ran through my bones when it dawned on me that I was it! Call me Mama. I was the catch all…if something was wrong, ultimately I was somehow the miracle worker that made it all better.
But I don’t know how! I will never be enough for him. What did I get myself into?? Could I run away with my husband? These thoughts among others raced through my mind uncontrollably. I was in tears more often then I would ever like to admit. I could not talk on the phone. No clue why! Anytime I tried, it did not matter who it was, the tears would flow and absolutely no words would come out. I would not answer the front door. I could not fathom ever leaving the house alone with my baby. I honestly felt bat shit crazy and was trying to figure out how to deal with the new me. I assumed this was “me” now because I did not know any better. I locked myself in my house with these thoughts and my adorable babe. My husband was my rock and I am still in awe of him getting me through these years alone.
Would my son be better off without me? No way in hell! Am I what he needed? Absolutely! Do you know how I know? Look at him now! He. Is. Amazing! He and I have learned so much together and I never want it to end. I love him forever and am beyond honored for him to call me mama. My firstborn is the best teacher I ever could have hoped for. He is the most empathetic, understanding soul I have ever met. And he is my son. It is hard to picture a future when you’re in baby years but I promise it is coming.
That's my first born.
I am going to go ahead and give myself credit now. These kids who call me mama are fantastic! I deserve it. YOU deserve it! DO NOT wait like I did. Seek help. My mind raced, and raced, and raced through those days giving myself guilt trip, after guilt trip, after guilt trip. It never stopped and I never asked for help to try and stop it. I honestly did not realize I needed it. I believed the lies in my head. I was so unbelievably hard on myself. I can see now there were countless wonderful moments with my children and husband during those early years. I unfortunately struggled to give myself credit at the time.
Although different with each child, I struggled with what I now know was postpartum depression. Our backyard was connected to the neighborhood park when I had my two boys. There were countless days when they would want to go play at the playground and I could not bring myself to open our back gate and go. I was the ultimate hermit. My main form of communication with the outside world became text messaging and facebook.
It may sound strange but I look back on those days fondly now. I am stronger now because I lived through them. They taught me SO much! Self compassion, self love, self care…whatever you want to call it. It is not a suggestion, it is a requirement! We need to take a step back and start treating ourselves better. I have found that, for me, being immersed in nature is a vital part of my self care. Nowadays, knowing I am the “catch all” for these amazing kids that call me mama is empowering to me. I joke that my third child broke me and I mean this in the best possible way. I get it now. I am enough. I was always enough. In fact, I am the only person that will ever love them as fiercely as I do!
To the mama wondering if her child(ren) would be better off without her? The answer is ALWAYS no. No matter what. That unconditional love you have for your child... well, it goes both ways. Never doubt that. If you are in the thick of it, just know that when you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel… and I have no doubt that light will come, you will become the best support system to those in need. You will get through this mama. Beyond your wildest dreams, you will get through this and become wilder and stronger then ever!