Thursday, January 24, 2013

Misery Loves Company

By now most of you know that things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing around here over the past two months. On the upside, I have finally recovered from my postpartum depression and Allie’s colic has improved significantly now that she is on medicine for reflux (thanks to some reader emails). Still, despite the recent improvements, I’m still having a lot of moments where my attitude stinks and the bigger picture of life gets lost in the mundane, repetitive days. Between a baby who doesn’t sleep and a toddler who doesn’t listen, I often find that motherhood isn’t exactly the magical, marvelous experience I expected. Sure, I have magical and marvelous moments, which are the ones I usually write about, but I have plenty of “Why did I choose this life, again?” moments that leave me feeling both guilty and inadequate in the role I’m supposed to love with all my heart.

Let’s face it, though. There’s nothing magical about Reese pooping in her underwear every other day and there’s nothing marvelous about discovering crayola art work on the walls and greasy chapstick doodles on the couch. Someone always needs me, someone is always crying, and I’m always trying to figure out the evasive answer to another mysterious problem. Why is Allie crying? Why isn’t Reese listening? Well, I’ve had enough of the guilt, and despite whatever I’m supposed to be feeling, this phase of life often stinks just as much as it shines.

On those not-so-shiny days, I don’t necessarily want to hear about the bright side. Bright side people make me feel guilty. I also don’t want someone to swoop in with the perfect advice or a magical solution. Chronic fixers make me feel inadequate. Instead, what I want on those days is a friend who will drop everything to meet me for coffee because she hears the need in my voice. A friend who isn’t afraid to agree that some parts of motherhood are downright awful and draining. A friend who will sit with me and swap “why me” stories until we’re both waist-deep in each other’s misery.

With that kind of friend, there's no mention of the bright side because we know that some aspects of life only have one side. We don’t need to say “I’ve been there” because it’s apparent in our stories. We don’t need to look for the silver lining because we can hear it in our laughter. And we don’t need to worry that our negativity brings each other down because we know that sometimes misery really does love company - not because we love to be miserable but because misery needs validation and reassurance from people who can use their stories and laughter and “me too’s” to say, “I totally get it.” In those moments where our stories are heard and our emotions are validated, the feelings of guilt are replaced by a realization of normalcy, and the feelings of misery become glimmers of hope.

Thank you, Kristin, for giving my misery so much company.

1 comment:

  1. I think mothers are constantly being told by society what we're "supposed to" do, think or feel, and it leaves us feeling largely inadequate. As if mothers are supposed to be these perfect superhumans. My first week with my newborn my mother kept trying to console me (it was a rough week) when all I wanted was to be allowed to cry. It's good that you have someone you can talk to without having to deal with well-meaning advice.