Some days, a voice in my head disguising itself as my own, reminds me a hundred times “You can’t take this anymore. You can’t take this anymore. You can’t take this anymore.”

Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I want to beat on a balcony ledge and scream as loudly as I can into the world. Sometimes I have terrible thoughts that I hate so much.

When it gets to that third layer, that’s when I realize the painful truth: the postpartum depression hasn’t gone away.

Other times, It’s simply parenthood.

The night I wrote this, I made the mistake of freezing at the end of the hallway where my children’s doors converge after multiple trips of putting one or both down for the night. One child was bouncing in bed and screaming; the other was laying in bed and crying loudly. After hours of listening to them, I thought I was going to break at any moment.

If you’ve never been in a similar situation, you may not understand how out of your mind it can cause you to be. Especially when dealing with it night after night with two different children, sleep nothing more than broken pieces you try to seize and make whole. I may say I got 2 hours of sleep, but what that really means is I slept for 3 minutes then woke up, plus 20 minutes then maybe 15 minutes and possibly a glorious 45 minute stretch before 7 minutes, and so on…

In between sleep spurts, I’m handling the kids, trying to get them to go back to sleep, staring at the monitor wondering how long they can possibly cry for, giving in to go into their rooms and try to calm them, turning the monitor down so I can clear my mind, turning the monitor up because if I miss something and they’re hurt, it’ll weigh on my conscience forever, researching and googling every damn thing I can to figure out new techniques to try, or wondering if they’re actually hurt or something’s wrong and I’m not doing what I need to provide them with the care they should receive. The entire time I’m also crying, desperate for a solution to help them. All the while trying to ignore the screaming voice telling me I’m inadequate.

Being a parent is hard.

Sleep deprivation is real, as is the struggle to be a good mom while seemingly failing time and again.

I thought being a stay at home mom would be great. And it is in so many ways. But you don’t get breaks from the kids. Nighttime is your only relief. Or should be. So when nighttime turns into this, it’s like putting in a 16-hour shift that turns into a 40-hour shift in two days (assuming rather falsely, that is, that the following nighttime will bring you a break).

It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re worth nothing in this great big world, especially when every move you make feels wrong. Instead, it’s important to acknowledge:

Yes you’re hurting

Yes you feel lost

Yes you’re wondering what your purpose is

Yes you’re overwhelmed

Yes you question if you are given more than you can handle

Yes sometimes you think that everything would be better without you as though you’re the reason why it’s all falling apart

But you are VERY important. You are real. You are experiencing a tough time. But a happy time, even if fleeting, will appear soon if you hold on a little longer.

The next day, I found myself staring at a picture on our fridge of our 3-year-old at his first preschool performance. It was one of my proudest parenting moments. Our little introvert shined like crazy when on that stage. Staring at that picture forced me to return to a level of pride & happiness. Reflecting on the happy moments can help you dig out of the smothering chaos.

What I hate is how hard it is for me to share this, considering I wrote this initial post a month ago. Right now it’s difficult for me to discern how much of these emotions are the basic sleep-deprived parent mentality and how much is PPD. But when things hit the Category 5 level, the thoughts that you’re too afraid to admit to anyone & I won’t disclose here, that’s when I label it my PPD because I’m aware enough to recognize the extreme from my normal behavior. If you are struggling with postpartum depression, know that being in the clear doesn’t always mean you’re in the clear. It can keep coming back. I didn’t realize that. This is the second time it’s hit this hard after I thought I had regained my mental clarity. I’ve learned to tell people when I’m having the crazy thoughts that you know you shouldn’t be having. It’s important. We aren’t meant to be alone in any of our struggles.

Parenting is hard. That’s all I can say. It’s so damn hard. Other people may make it look easy. But it doesn’t mean it is. It doesn’t mean it has to be for everyone. Also, struggling doesn’t mean that you’re ungrateful. THAT is something I’ve had to realize the most. I’ve been so worried that people will hear anything I’ve had to say about hardships in parenting and criticize me for being insensitive to those that struggle with infertility and those who would love to experience parenthood. But my struggles do not equate to ungratefulness.

I thank God every day for these two little guys, even when I’m sleep deprived and breaking.

And even when I want to give up, I’ll put forth every ounce of strength I have in being the best mom possible to them.

Because at the end of the day, as with all things, it comes down to love. My love for these two surpasses all. Which means loving myself is important even when I feel like I can’t, only because that’s how I can show love to these two even more. Some days are easier than others, but for the hard days, that’s why there’s solidarity in motherhood with amazing mama friends who are in the trenches with me and understand exactly where I’m coming from. And for all of you, I’m eternally grateful.

Keep on keeping on, mamas. ❤

Written by Lauren Eckhardt

Mama of 2 Boys, Introvert, Empath, Author of Young Adult and Women's Fiction and Marvel Maker Coach

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