Our son was born almost three months ago. He’s so different from his sister and our experience as parents of a newborn has been so different from what we remember it was like seven years ago. He’s more sensitive than she was and more demanding than we remember. I’m physically and emotionally more drained at the end of the day now than I was with our girl. He screams and cries louder than we remember his sister doing. And he fully expects all eyes to be on him at all hours of the day.
It’s been a very hard adjustment for me. I’ve questioned my competency as a mother; I’ve questioned if having a second child was really a very good idea; I’ve questioned my sanity. I’ve cried countless tears and had more moments than I care to admit where I just want to scream and walk away. I’ve tackled postpartum depression; dealt with sleep deprivation and struggled through figuring out breastfeeding, which included literal blood, sweat and tears.
These first three months, in a brief phrase, have sucked.
But now, now. Now my sweet boy seems to be over his colic; now he is starting to laugh; he’s beginning to roll and trying so hard to sit up. He “talks” to us almost nonstop and smiles. Oh that smile. And yes, he’s still sensitive and tells us (loudly) when he is displeased and yet it doesn’t seem as hard as it was even a few weeks ago. I feel like I can breathe again, I can see how quickly it all passes and am starting to appreciate these early months. I can repeat the mantra “This too shall pass” during those trying moments and remember the same in the sweet ones.
When we’re in the trenches, the dark times, we can feel like they will never ever pass. In those times when the world feels like it’s caving in on us, it’s hard to imagine life could be any other way, ever. When we are feeling our moments of deepest despair, the thought of ever laughing or smiling or enjoying life seems impossible. And yet, this too passes.
When my mom died six years ago, grief overtook me in many ways. I felt so raw. If a person even mentioned my mother I would burst into uncontrollable tears. I was angry and sad and wanted to lash out but wasn’t sure how. I felt lost and desolate.
Six years later I still miss her. I still cry sometimes. There are moments of anger about her passing, but mostly I’m sad. I look at my little boy and acknowledge he will never know the feeling of sitting on my mom’s lap. I look at our girl and mourn the relationship she and my mom will never have.
Yes there is still sadness, but it’s not all consuming. I don’t feel so raw and exposed. I can see how life just goes on and while I mourn the missed relationships of my children with her, the reality is, they know no different.
And so it goes. The ebb and flow of life. When we are deep in it there can certainly seem to be no way out. Yet, life marches on, and this too passes, and one day we find we are able to breathe again. Not right now, perhaps not tomorrow, but one day. We start to see the lightness and beauty in our lives, with new eyes, and learn to appreciate it in new ways. And eventually, eventually, we even start to look back fondly on the dark times, seeing our transformation and strength from the other side.
My heart reaches out to those who are struggling, in their dark times right now. Those who have recently lost a loved one. Those in the throes of their own depression. Those who can’t see the light in this moment. I ask you take a moment, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, and allow whatever needs to come out, to do so: be that tears or screams or a deep sign. And then, feel your heart, feel how strong it is, how strong you are, and know that while you are in the depths of darkness at this moment, the light will come.
This post was inspired not only by my own struggles, but also by a beautiful woman I have had the privilege have become my friend through Facebook. Last weekend her husband completed suicide. She has set up a memorial fund through the Black Dog Institute, whose mission is “to advance the understanding, diagnosis and management of the mood disorders by continuously raising clinical, research, education and training standards. In so doing, the Institute aims to improve the lives of those affected – and in turn – the lives of their families and friends.” Please consider donating to the Dan McAuliffe fund by clicking here.