Motherhood and depression do not go well together.
Well, obviously. Depression doesn’t go well with anything – except maybe a songwriter penning an emo ballad.
But the reason I’m thinking of specifically is how confusing it can be to determine what is genuine depression and what are the normal frustrations that all mums deal with. Certainly any time I have discussed the harder moments in my mothering journey here on the blog, I have been met with a resounding chorus of support. So many of you identify with the challenges I face and assure me that I am normal.
And we can’t all be depressed.
But some of us genuinely are. And the muddy waters of motherhood can make it difficult to pinpoint the moment when we have crossed over from normal woes and are headed into something more serious. As much as hearing “We all feel this way!” is a welcome relief, by allowing myself to be comforted by well-meaning friends, am I forgoing the diagnosis of a professional?
Where exactly does normal end?
For instance, are these normal things to shout at your children?
“Everyone leave me the fuck alone!”
“Why do you have to make things harder for me, you little shit?”
“I need a break. I need to be away from all of you. Just go AWAY!”
Because these are all things I have shouted at my children. Today.
And it always follows that whenever I need distance most, they won’t leave my side. Can’t. The angrier I get, the more they cling, so desperate for a soft word from their mum. And even though I know it, can see it so clearly in their faces, sometimes I can’t give it to them.
Mostly their little faces, apprehensive but still hopeful, are enough to bring me back. But not always. Not today.
So the question remains, what is normal?
The school holidays are into their second week. The 24-sevenness of it all is relentlessly exhausting. I allow myself this concession. There are other things on my mind lately, too. But the things I have said to my kids, the way I am feeling, is not normal. At least, I don’t want this to be normal. I want to be better than this. To feel better.
I am a better mother than this.
But you know what the worst part is? The immediate and complete forgiveness my children offer me. If, in the midst of my ranting, I dropped to my knees and embraced them, they would fall right into my arms without taking so much as a moment to register the whiplash.
Oh, my heart. My shame.
And then there is the self-consciousness in writing these posts. I fear judgment. Not from my fellow mums who identify and empathise - I know you are the majority. But I fear the readers who stumble across my blog, rolling their eyes way back into their heads at another mummy blogger moaning about how hard it is to be a mummy. And when these (imaginary?) critics ask me, "If it's so hard, then why the hell do you keep having more kids?" I say to them, "Excellent question! I'll be damned if I know."
But I do know. The constant requirements of motherhood, the dispute resolutions, the grabbing hands and shrill demands, a dizzying swirl of need that winds itself around my legs all day long - it shadows the beauty of motherhood but it can not erase it. And though I lose my head, these little people just wait patiently for the storm to blow over and for their mum to return to them.
I always do.
I always do.