When I was a brand new mother trying to navigate a world ruled by feedings, diaper changes, and growth spurts, I felt like I was drowning. Deep down I believed there was some secret, some formula, some checklist that I hadn’t yet gotten my hands on. Once found, it would make this mothering thing a bit more magical. And a lot less terrifying.
I was wrong.
I searched for the answers everywhere. I searched for clues from the other mommies, from relatives, and from doctors. I looked for answers in blogs, books, articles, and the other women in my book club who seemed to have seamlessly cracked the code on this parenting gig. I watched in awe as moms all around me seemed to prepare dinners, have clean and well dressed children, and wear lipstick- all without breaking a sweat. I was at a loss.
One day I rejoiced, believing I had found the answer. And it was right here, in my kitchen sink. I was told that if my sink was spotless every morning, the rest of my life would fall into place. I even subscribed to daily email reminders to help get me on track. As if the sole purpose of my existence was to have a clean sink.
It didn’t work.
Turns out I didn’t need reminders to clean my sink daily. What was going on was much further below the surface. I often wonder how those first years of parenthood would have been had I subscribed to another type of email service. If those cheerfully benign emails had looked a little different.
What if instead of reminding me to clean my sink, the emails prompted me to hold onto myself? What if caring for and nurturing my own body took as much significance as caring for my kitchen counters? What if feeling and expressing my own emotions was regarded as important as sweeping my floor daily? What if I stopped viewing my home, my children, my postpartum body, and my dinners as a reflection of my worth as a mother and as a wife. What if, instead, I focused on my worth as a HUMAN.
I subscribed to the popular belief that a “good” mother puts herself last all of the time. I bought the lie that denying myself and my needs somehow made me stronger, better, and more worthy. In reality, it made me tired, resentful, and left me feeling alone.
And we wonder why so many women struggle with postpartum depression.
We need to stop sending out emails about cleaning our sinks daily and start connecting with each other honestly and authentically. Parenting is hard. It is terrifying. It is amazing and beautiful also. There are highs and lows and every single parent experiences both ends of the roller coaster. But the answer never has nor ever will be found in the bottom of a sparkling clean kitchen sink. We have to go deeper. We have to go within.