Did you want to know a secret?
My partner thinks I buy Target Brand Up and Up Cucumber baby wipes because they are more affordable than name-brand wipes and because they are gentle on our baby’s sensitive skin.
This is only a half-truth.
This brand has other wipes as well, like the unscented kind. What he doesn’t know is that these wipes are gentle on the eyes. They soothe the red splotchiness that occurs from excessive crying … it almost disappears automatically and I can go about my day without anyone knowing I’ve had an hour-long crying session. They make my face feel so much better and they’re great at cleaning off mascara stains in a jiffy (if I can talk myself into applying makeup that day).
The truth is, I feel so alone and for these past 8 months since my 3rd baby’s birth, I’ve felt like I’m in an endless dark tunnel of sadness. A tunnel I’ve avoided until this year. How am I still in it?
I am normally that friend, coworker, and family member that everyone expects to be happy and positive. I am that person who wears her heart on her sleeve and isn’t afraid to be herself. I am the one that they turn to in times of trouble for comfort. They must not know I am missing. They must be completely unaware that I’m trapped inside this tunnel.
Am I alone in my struggle of figuring out how I came to be inside this starless tunnel?
Am I the only one who hears this sneering voice that’s inside of it?
I scroll my social media feeds and click like on the other moms’ professionally photographed lives. I like these because their perfection is what I wish I could provide, they have their lives together.
I force myself through the fog to head out to the store – and as I hastily fill the grocery cart with off-brand food in dry shampoo and the jeans I wore yesterday praying that I don’t run into anyone I know … I watch other moms strolling the store without a list. They don’t need a list like I have, they would never forget something important and be forced to make a second trip. They move around the store slowly and with confidence, like graceful gazelles, a Venti coffee in their perfectly-manicured hands. They don’t have to rush because this is a basic routine in everyday life. For me, it is an anxiety-ridden event. They don’t have to worry that someone may glance at their haggard appearance and be offended. They don’t seem to be rushing toward the exit door because they have been holding their breath the entire shopping trip.
Am I the only one that hears the voice say, “He works with girls who have had no kids and have better bodies than you, of course, he hasn’t proposed to you, yet” when my partner hugs me.
Am I alone in hearing its whispers remarking, “They didn’t invite you because you’re a huge drag now,” when I see my friend’s post from a girl’s day on Instagram? She hasn’t called me back lately and I know it’s because she’s going through a rough time and she’s disappointed in my inability to make her feel better.
Am I the only mother that hears, “You are a terrible mother and unworthy of your adorable children,” if I have to miss a school event. That same iteration is whispered every time I have to put a priority on the baby over my other children because I am the only parent that is ever home. “You are a terrible, terrible mother” is reverberated. “When are they going to stop loving you as most everyone else has in your life?” bounces off of the tunnel walls every time my boys have to hear “No” more than “Yes.”
Am I alone in the moments of agony?
My body feels so heavy at times I’d swear it was made of brick. Whatever is going on with this journey through this tunnel, it’s taking its physical toll. I curl up in bed almost every night unable to sleep, swallowing some Tylenol PM to stop thinking about how I just can’t do another day. Yet, every morning, I wake up.
Am I alone in the loss of answers?
I can’t talk about anything because I can’t explain it and then I just begin to cry and once that starts it may never stop. I think about things that will help, such as journaling or running but I have no energy left to do these things because my responsibilities come first and I am too exhausted for extracurricular activity.
Am I alone in my moments of guilt?
The guilt that my children know and will remember that I am sad all of the time? That they will associate me with sadness forever? I want to raise positive, confident and happy children – but in this tunnel of sadness, I worry that I’ve already messed it all up. I always say, “I love you.” I take hope in knowing that they know they are loved unconditionally but the voice within the walls whispers, “But do they know this? You can’t even love yourself.”
Am I alone in invisibility?
I am a mom. We should be okay with being invisible to our children, family, and the world, right? At least, that’s what I’ve been taught. I’ve mastered the art of invisibility. However, I am often pulled back into visibility by my children and that makes my suffering more easily hidden.
As I write this, my baby cries…
as I head toward a diaper change, the voice in this tunnel reminds me, “no one wants to read about your pity party.”
I open up a fresh package of those soft baby wipes of comfort and they immediately offer temporary relief.