When I was a new mom, I joined a local mom’s group. There is real sisterhood in sitting on the floor surrounded by other women who haven’t showered and who accidentally wear their slippers out of the house. The group was a great resource for tips on everything from babywearing to sleep training. However, I felt a little different from the other moms.
I entered motherhood after a five-year struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss.
Despite sitting in mom’s group with a beautiful baby in my arms, I was still haunted by the years of desperation and loss I’d experienced. Statistically, there were likely a few others in the group who also struggled to have a child. Although no one brought it up. I felt like my journey to motherhood was so different from everyone else’s that they could never understand. But I was being naïve.
What I realize now, after spending more time with these moms and reading some of the very honest blog posts on this site, is that many of us bring emotional baggage to parenting. For the mom with a baby who spent time in the NICU, she may feel like she was robbed of precious bonding time. For the mom with a difficult relationship with her own mom, she may feel she can never be good enough. Moms have children with medical needs. Moms have postpartum depression and anxiety and moms have unsupportive families. Many moms experience racism in their OB/GYN care, have trouble breastfeeding, or lose partners. The list goes on.
Many of these situations are so difficult to talk about that we may choose not to talk about them at all. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Our lives as new moms may look similar from the outside (read: unwashed hair and slippers as outdoor shoes). In reality, many of us are experiencing motherhood with our own invisible emotional baggage. It’s just one more reason we should all be a little kinder to ourselves and to each other.