Recently I was in Disneyworld with my oldest son and he said to me, “I remember when you were like this…” To which I replied, “Like what?” And he continued with, “Happy.” Now, do not get me wrong it is not that I have not been happy but I knew exactly what he meant when he said it. I was taken aback by his comments and we continued to chat. He mentioned to me that when we only had the older four kids I was more like how I was acting in Disney which was like a kid, careful, joyful and well, happy! It made me sad to hear him say this but he was actually spot on and I will explain why.
People say that when you go from 2 to 3 kids it is hard but for me that was not the case. I was pregnant from 2005-2010 four times and it was the jump from 2-4 that through me for a loop. I never saw it coming but I guess I was able to happily manage three kids ages 4 and under just fine. And, let me say that telling you that my house was always in order, my house was deep cleaned every Monday by moi and if you looked in any cabinet or drawer it was likely to look like the ones in Sleeping With The Enemy (for those who have not seen the movie basically it looks perfect from the best OCD standpoint). Yes, my peeps I had my s#@% together from day 1 of having my kids. However, when my 4th child was born it all changed. I could not keep and so I never slept and what happened as a result of that? I got Postpartum Depression (PPD).
After I got “over” the PPD I was what my son said…overall happy. But then I got pregnant with the twins, and then I got pregnant with Andrew and then I got pregnant with Joseph and then I got pregnant with Philip. And during all of those additional children came the workload and etc. and basically I guess I became a total grump evil character from a Disney movie!
After I had Philip I had the worse experience of my life with him by getting not only the worst case of PPD but also Postpartum Anxiety (PPA). The combination was literally deadly. However, and this is a big however, as I began to let go (for the first time in my life) and let others step in and help me and also just focused on not being so OCD things changed. I was actually becoming a good Mom probably for the first time ever. The kids would arrive home with Dad because I wasn’t driving and I would have fresh veggies and dip waiting for them and we would eat, go outside and I would even play football with my kids! The girls and I would blast music in the kitchen and dance to our hearts’ content. I was “happy” though I was suffering from PPD and PPA.
After seven years of marriage and about two years after I had my 4th child my husband, seeing my issues with PPD told me that a new massage place opened locally and that I should take a “time out” and go get something done there. Me? The one who never stops? No way…but guess what he actually got me to go there. I booked myself a facial which was the first facial I had ever had in my life and it was amazing. Of course the reps at Hand and Stone convinced me to join their club with a membership which would entitle me to one service a month – either a facial or a massage. Well, seven years later and probably much to the pain of my hubby’s wallet I have never looked back! I eventually ditched the pricey membership and found a place where I can get go and TWO massages for the price of ONE at Hand and Stone! So I now will go sometimes twice a month for massages and I do not regret it one bit!
This “time out” as my hubby called it was so foreign to me. Up until that point the only thing I had done for me was be involved in a spiritual group once a month and sometimes on Saturday mornings. And as much as I loved it and got so much spiritual gifts from it it wasn’t me being alone and it wasn’t me taking care of the physical side of which being a Mom of many is physically exhausting and majorly draining.
About a year before I got pregnant with Philip I made a different change in my Mommy “time-out” life. I joined a local Mom’s group and became friends with a few of them and we started going out regularly. This was all so new to me because I never did this! We would go on Wine Tours, out to dinner, our to cigar bars, you name it. Meeting this group of gals gave me a desire to do some of the things I used to do when I was single like go to a NYC play with a friend or go get my nails done. And, again, my hubby’s wallet has suffered since then because now I have regular Mommy “time-outs” and I do not regret them one bit. I will say in the beginning I felt guilty but my husband was so happy. He saw that it was helping me in general but also with my PPD/PPA.
It is sad that my son had to make a comment that made me think again. Do I regret my life before kids, after kids, during kids, during the “bad” times? No. As a trying to be devout Catholic woman I am sorry for my sins from all the days of my life but everything happens for a reason. I was meant to go through what I went through and oddly enough it has made me a better person and Mom.
What is that saying again? The one where you get on an airplane and they tell you if you have a child with you and the plane begins to crash put the mask first on yourself and then on your child because you have to save yourself first in order to save your child at all. And it is true and I am just sorry that it took me seven years of marriage and kids to figure that one out…
My Dad passed away 15 months ago and for the most part I have been sad most of those months so my child’s comment is warranted but I am finally coming around again and am perking up.
For almost one month I have been completely happy and carefree and joyful and all of my family notice it. I am calling it the Disney spirit staying alive within me. It is that but it is mostly God and His blessings and graces.
As I write you from being alone on a private silent retreat for two days I can tell you that this Mommy “time-out” is exactly what I needed and that I will go back to my husband and kids tonight being that much happier and that much better as a Mom and for that I am eternally grateful for the journey.
Wherever you are Mom or Dad I hope you take much needed “time-out”!