Share the Struggle

This is a personal post.

When I was pregnant, I took especial care of myself. I ate a diet full of healthy and nutritious food. I exercised nearly every day. I read good books. I practiced relaxations. I took Epsom salt baths. I did everything “for the baby.” My babies always motivated me to take care of myself. Even when I was not pregnant, I prepared for the next time I would become pregnant. My entire motivation for taking care of myself was so I could grow a healthy baby and have an amazing birth.

I am no longer planning on having more children. My “baby” is now 2.5 years old. He is the age that my other two children were when they became an older sibling. It’s funny, if I were planning on having more children, I’d probably have a new baby by now. I still don’t feel ready to have another baby. My “baby” is the babiest baby I’ve had so far. He is so baby-like, and he is not ready to become a big brother. Even if that was what we were planning on doing.

I struggle with self-care. I’m not sure how to fit it in most of the time, and I struggle to feel worthy of self-care. And sometimes, because I take care of people all day long, I just wish someone else would take care of me. I don’t want to add another chore to the to-do list, and, most of the time, self-care seems like a chore

But who could take care of me? Everyone is overwhelmed. Everyone needs to practice self-care. Everyone has too much to do. I have a feeling I’m not the only one who is confused by this whole self-care thing.

The other day I decided I would try to find a guided relaxation for boosting energy. I was so exhausted, but I didn’t have time to rest for very long. I wanted to see if I could take a quick pause to get through the rest of my day. I loved practicing relaxation during my second pregnancy with the Hypnobabies program. I thought, “Why not try it now?”

Then I wondered why I haven’t tried it before now. I explored that question.

Why haven’t I tried to practice guided relaxation before now?

Because I am just a mom now.

I kept exploring.

What does that mean, “just a mom now?”

I figured out that somehow I felt less worthy as a person because I wasn’t growing a baby. There is a lot of affirmation and validation during pregnancy. Everyone is interested in you. Sort of, anyway. There is something special about being pregnant. Even if you don’t get a whole lot of attention, and even if some of that attention is stupid and annoying, there is some attention. And odds are, there is a bit of good attention. Maybe someone throws you a baby shower. Maybe you take maternity pictures. Maybe you get massages and pamper yourself, because after all, you are pregnant. You deserve it. And I mean it, someone growing a baby really does deserve to be pampered. It’s hard work!

And then the baby comes out, and there is a quick celebration. Then life goes back to normal for everyone else, and you just become sort of forgotten.

To much of the world, being a mother is no big deal-nothing to be celebrated. But somehow it is still one of the hardest things on the planet to do. You have to validate yourself. You have to affirm yourself. You have to find meaning in the everyday mundane. There is no lack of judgement and criticism, and nearly 8 years into this gig, I am still not used to it. Some days it just wears on my soul. Some days I just need some affirmation that I am a worthy human being and there are good things about me.

So all of this leads me to the amazing workout I just had with the MommaStrong program. I treated myself to this program. (Self-care) I was tired of having chronic back pain, and I wanted to figure out what I could do to make it go away. (Self-care). So nearly everyday, I exercise in some way. (Self-care) I’ve been doing something each day, whether it is yoga, lifting weights, running, or walking, for nearly eighteen months. (Self-care) I practiced another program (that I liked a lot) to heal my diastasis recti for about a year, and I decided it was time to try something new. I’ve been hearing about MommaStrong for awhile. I decided to take the plunge.

I am so glad that I did! I was in ugly tears after the first few workouts. It was not just the physical healing that was leaving me in tears. I love her life lessons at the end of each workout, and some of them are exactly what I need to hear that day. Some of my favorite lessons could make wonderful hashtags. Maybe they are already hashtags. I don’t understand hashtags. They look like sharps to me. #musicreference #beabeginner #winugly

I’ve been struggling with some negative emotions lately, and I can’t pinpoint where they are coming from. I feel like I need a lot of help from my friends, yet nothing is helping. I don’t know what will help. I keep telling my husband that I am birthing an Anger Baby and I am 8cm. Because when you are 8cm, you just don’t know. You don’t know what you want or what will help. If someone asks you a question, you don’t know. They can ask, “Would you like to get in the tub?” You’ll respond, “I don’t know.” They might ask, “Did you feel pressure with that last contraction?” You’ll respond, “I don’t know.” Because you are 8cm. Or more! When a baby is about to exit your body, it takes too much brain power to come up with words and answers. You just don’t know.

And the partner doesn’t know. It is hard to watch your loved one going through something so difficult and not be able to take the pain away. All you can do is just be there and do the best that you can. Your presence and willingness to just be there means the world.

So here I am, 8cm with difficult emotions that I don’t know what to do with, for about a week now. My poor husband has no idea what to do for me. My friends have no idea what wisdom they can impart. And I have no idea how to help myself because none of my usual self-care tactics are working. I can’t “just think positively” out of this nor can I “choose to be happy” my way out of it. I have to surrender to it.

Which brings me to my amazing workout today. Courtney talked about how the workouts often feel harder the stronger you get.  This happens because you are engaging more of the right muscles and you are doing it more correctly. So your body shakes more and it feels harder. She talked about when you are going through something hard, not to try to condemn it or try to stop it, but to look at it with curiosity. And to reach out to others. And to share the struggle. So many of us suffer in silence until we have it all figured out, then we share what we learned. We don’t share the struggle.

I’m not a fan of sharing the struggle. I want to look like I have it all figured out. Which is funny because no one thinks I have it all figured out. Just this morning I told my husband, “I don’t want to talk to you about it because I don’t understand it yet. I want to think about it, to figure it out, and be able to explain it in rational and reasonable words.”

But here I am. I really just don’t know. I am 8cm. I just don’t get it. I don’t know what to do about it. I’m just going to have to go through it. #surrender #sharethestruggle

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