‘Moods of Motherhood’, yes mother’s need nurturing too, there is so much to say about this subject. There is joy in motherhood, real joy not just fleeting gratification. The feeling you get when you see the cuteness in your child’s naughtiness or when they snuggle up close to you. When they say their first words or the the moments when you quietly reflect that this little person came from your body, from your womb. Before your baby knew their was anybody else in the world they knew you because you were their world. What a gift from God and what a responsibility He puts in our hands. God has given us a baby to love, He has given us motherhood so why sometimes is it just so hard? Why the moods?
My first marriage was arranged by my parents and my husband died after 9 years from a long illness. After he passed I moved to Ireland with my 9 year old daughter. I came to Ireland with the hope of a new life. After 2 years of living in Dublin something wonderful happened. I met the most gorgeous man I’ve ever met in my life. The man who is now my husband, Thomas. I fell in love and I was overjoyed to find that he loved me too. He wasted no time in proposing to me and after nervously hesitating for 2 minutes I accepted. We were married 6 months later and I was so excited to start my life over with him. Only weeks after we were married I found out that I was pregnant. I loved every moment of the pregnancy and I enjoyed the love and care that Thomas and his family were showing me. The love was real and the care was real. This was something that I hadn’t experience much in my life. It all felt so new and exciting. I felt like a new woman and I wanted to discover everything that that entailed. I was growing in confidence and for the first time in my life I felt safe.
I never learned as a child about how to be in touch with my emotions, I was always in survival mode. The ground under my feet was never safe or steady enough for me to express emotions. I lost my father after 3 and a half months of marriage and 3 months pregnant and I didn’t know how to process that emotionally, I didn’t know how to grieve so I didn’t. I pushed it away or rather I pushed it down but you can’t keep grief hidden away forever, eventually it will come back to bite you one way or another. 6 months after my father passed my little boy was born, my Joshua. I kept pretending to be OK but I was quietly suffocating from the sadness of loosing my dad.
I soon found myself pregnant again with my 3rd child and the pain in my heart kept growing. This time the pregnancy wasn’t wonderful. It should have been exciting, it should have been more loving and caring like last time but it wasn’t. I just wasn’t able to feel it or receive it. I sank into a black mire of depression. I wanted to talk about it but I didn’t know how until one day I found a leaflet for affordable counseling and I called and made an appointment. I seen the counselor once a week for a few weeks and in our last session when we started talking about my father I fainted. The counselor had to call my husband to come get me. I never went back to the counselor but it was clear I had hidden issues that needed to be dealt with. It may have been clear but I still went back to internalising and pretending nothing was wrong. The pain became unbearable, I was crying all the time, I was irritable, hurt and withdrawn from my husband and family. I felt lonely and once again I was living with fear everyday.
When my baby girl was born things got worse. Postnatal depression was what they called it. With the depression came overwhelming anger. I became very aggressive with my husband. I loved my children but couldn’t find the strength to cope with the long day at home with 2 little ones. The simplest tasks became too much to handle and I just didn’t want to be who I was and where I was anymore. I was hurting and nothing felt right. I wanted to run away but didn’t know where I wanted to go. I didn’t know what I wanted, nothing was good. Anger was the easiest emotion for me to connect with so I just got angrier and angrier. I wasn’t able to see the grief behind the anger and nobody else could see it either. I started blaming everybody for my pain. I blamed motherhood. Where I had once dreamed of being a stay at home mother now I was resenting my life of cooking and cleaning and kids. I directed all my frustration at Thomas my poor husband. It was dreadful. All I wanted was a dark room to hide myself in. I lost hope and became suicidal.
Hope came again after a year of waiting. I finally got an appointment for CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). I started meeting my therapist almost every week. The first half of our work focused on exploring the challenges I was having and trying to see if there were patterns emerging which would help discover any threads between them. It seemed to be helpful as it allowed me to see that each situation was not isolated or random but rather that there were some difficult emotions and feelings behind them, feelings which initially were hard for me to experience.
As we continued I began to understand that feeling angry was often a way of protecting myself against painful feelings like sadness and fear of being taken advantage of. Fear of being taken advantage of was a very familiar feeling that had always been there with me through my childhood and my first marriage. My therapist told me ‘in many ways the hurt and pain of these feelings may always be there to some degree but it is how we learn to relate to these feelings which makes the difference’.
Over the course of therapy I also explored a few approaches which helped me to respond to myself and my circumstances with more compassion and ease. Mindfulness Practice, Prioritising time for my own needs and Self Expression and Self Soothing Strategies.
I read The Mindful way through depression and began to practice Mindfulness as part of my everyday life. This was powerful in assisting with greater awareness of body sensations, thoughts and emotions and cultivating a kinder attitude toward myself. I found myself able to sit with difficult emotions and cultivate a kinder attitude toward myself. It was a new and valuable experience for me. Through practicing Mindfulness meditations and breathing space I learned how to press the pause button when I needed to and check in with myself. Painful experiences and feelings will always exist but it is how we relate to them that can make the difference between peace of mind and suffering.
Today it’s 2 years later and I’m pregnant again with number 4! 36 weeks today. It was a bit of a surprise at first and once again I felt trapped and shaken for a time. This time however I was equipped with the skills I needed to cope and the will to see it through and make things better.
It has been a difficult journey at times but God has brought me this far. As he has given these little ones into my hands to be loved and cared for so also I commit myself into His. After all, mothers need nurturing too.