Please welcome my friend Laura to this week’s “I’m Not a Bad Mom Because…” Laura was one of the very first women I met on Twitter back before I was blogging, because we’re both late night tweeters and breastfeeding advocates. She wrote one of my very first guest posts on breastfeeding in public. And we were fortunate enough to meet in person at BlogHer in August. She is such a kind, beautiful person. I’m excited to have her perspective added to the series this week.
A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet from Cristi that asked opinions on starting a weekly series on the subject of “I’m Not a Bad Mom Because…”. My immediate reaction was Hell yeah! I could probably write a book on that subject. I don’t really fit in with mainstream parenting and usually don’t care. My children don’t have a TV in their room, don’t own any personal electronics, aren’t allowed to drink soda, I don’t believe in spanking as a punishment, and I am supportive of them voicing their opinions. But that is the little stuff and hardly seems deserving of an entire post. So I dug deeper. This is what came out. Hope you enjoy it!
Last month I went on vacation. All by myself. Neither my three children nor husband came with me. One of the reasons is because as a wife of a long haul trucker, I tend to be the primary parent. He is gone an average of 290 days/nights a year. Bah doom. So that means whether I am sick or not feeling up to par, I am usually the parent flying solo. Up until a few months ago, we also lived in a different state from family, so I was without a support system for almost six years. As you can imagine, this can be exhausting and mentally draining.
However, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love my children and truly enjoy being with them and around them so much.
I feel I am reaching a point in my life where I am (finally!) becoming wise and learning to not repeat past mistakes. One of those areas is self-care. I am the type of person who is loyal and hardworking to a fault. I will literally give all of myself to someone or a project I am working on. I will forgo food and a reasonable amount of sleep to do what I think needs to be done. Well that is fine and dandy for a short time. Multiply that by a few years and it’s not so good.
A few things that I did on my vacation in August was to visit some of my family, for the first time in over two years. It was both good and bad. I was not expecting to be hit with some very overwhelming emotions as I stayed about an hour drive from my Father, who I am estranged from. I also had a very emotional day as I visited my son’s grave for the first time in almost five years. That was so, so difficult.
After returning home, I threw myself right back into my normal routine. There was one slight problem. Right before I left on my vacation, I realized I was about to run out of my prescription medicines. You see, I am on both an anti-depressant and a synthetic hormone replacement (for thyroid disease). I have been on both for a few years and just figured I would call in the refills while away & if I missed a day or two, I would be okay.
I was so caught up in everything else that I didn’t pay close attention to the medicine labels. In fact, I didn’t attempt to call in the refills until I got back home. They were both my last refill. Since I had just moved from another state, I did not have a new Doctor yet.
I hoped for the best and called in the refills anyway, praying that my old Doctor would approve it. That didn’t happen. Five phone calls and four days later I still had no pills. Remember I had just returned home from vacation? Yeah, I was caught up in the happiness of being home again and preparing my two older children for the start of a new school year. I was too busy to take care of myself. The next day I found out I had to make a Doctor appointment for my oldest daughter to get immunizations to start Kindergarten, so I made an appointment for myself. The soonest I could get in was the next week, even when I explained my situation in detail. Off anti-depressants for over a week, yada yada.
So I kept my head up and carried on. Focused on my children and household.
Then it happened. I completely broke down. Out of nowhere, I just snapped and felt like I was drowning in life. I found myself losing my patience. I felt so overwhelmed that just the thought of getting on the phone and trying to make a Doctor’s appointment for sooner made me cry. I couldn’t stop crying. I gathered myself together enough to set my children up in the living room with a movie and went to my bedroom.
Then I locked the door. I sat on my bed and cried some more. I found myself rocking back & forth repeating “I can’t do this” over and over again. I knew I needed help but I had no idea how to get it.
After about twenty minutes of this, I got on Twitter. That probably sounds really stupid to you, but on Twitter I have friends. I have a support system of other Mothers who understand. I didn’t know what else to do. So I tweeted. I tweeted honestly and in a total stream of consciousness. As I typed, I felt hopeful. I felt like I could get a grasp on my feelings.
The responses I got were overwhelming. They were totally non-judgmental and supportive. The tweets were full of common sense, yet so reassuring at the time. I started to calm down a little bit and was able to call my husband on the phone. You see, until this point, I didn’t want to bother him. Yes, I realize how silly that sounds. However, in my mind, it is my responsibility to handle things while he is gone. I forgot that he is my friend, my lover, and my best source of support.
Once he heard my voice and the despair I was in, he took charge. He made arrangements for his Mother to come and take our children to her house. She then returned and took me to an Urgent Care so I could see a Doctor right away. (Our children were with my Father-in-law) I honestly, truly wanted to be committed to a hospital. That is how out of control I felt. I never once felt suicidal, just completely hopeless.
Once I saw a Doctor, I was immediately given a prescription for both of my medicines and promised an appointment the next day with a Primary Care Physician. I’m not going to sugar coat it and say everything magically got better as soon as I got my pills. I started to feel better that day and every day since then, I feel an improvement. I have a regular Doctor now and he wrote me refills for the next six months. I try every day to take some time to focus on self-care. I am doing my best to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, do things I enjoy (like read a book), and most of all, be honest with myself about what I am capable of.
This may seem like a little thing to you, but it has made a tremendous impact on me. I feel almost like I am reclaiming a part of me that I lost when I became a Mother. I am still a Mom, just a better one because I am learning to once again respect myself.