Let’s Talk About the Dark Side of Motherhood

Let’s Talk About the Dark Side of Motherhood

This week I learned about the beautiful Detroit meteorologist, Jessica Starr, who took her own life.

I don’t watch the news anymore, so I wasn’t familiar with her, but my first thought was, “I wonder if she had little kids.”

I read a little about her and then looked at her social media. I learned she had a 5 year old son and what looked to be maybe a 3 year old daughter.  Her life seemed so good! Educated with two degrees. Boating. Handsome hubby.  Gorgeous. Cool job. Fun social events.  It looks like she had it all.

I don’t want to disrepect her or her family by pretending I know why she felt desperate enough to leave this world. It could have been medication or depression. Having lost a brother to suicide just last year, I don’t think anyone ever really knows why someone does this. But I do know that motherhood is hard. It is SO.VERY. HARD. It takes you into dark places and if you add any other thing to that darkness without the hope and light of a way out, I can imagine for some women, it can just be too much.

As much as we want to shine the light on the beauty of being mommy, the truth is that we shine the light because it is an incredibly dark place to be in sometimes.

Let’s talk about hormones and the ups and downs of moods for months or years after childbirth.

Let’s talk about how those mood swings literally rewire our brain pathways and if we don’t recognize what is going on, we can’t stop it until the brain is “broken” in a sense.

Let’s talk about how the cultural shift in expectations as a woman has also shifted the cultural expectations as a mother.

Let’s talk about how we have more leisure time and domestic conveniences than any generation of women before us, yet feel exhausted and drained and overwhelmed more than generations of women before us.

Let’s talk about how even though we are more connected than ever through technology, we are incredibly lonely and disconnected as a community of woman who once physically joined together to walk through the darkest days of young family life.

There is no perfect era to be a woman. As we make strides in areas of equality, having opinions and ideas that matter, and a voice to be heard as strong, successful women, we also take steps back and struggle to do what we were created naturally to do from the beginning of time…strong, successful mothers and wives who first nurtured their homes and then extended that same care to those around us.

It’s hard to believe we can have success in all areas of womanhood.  I often think it’s a lie to say we can have it all.

But maybe we can actually live in the light and less in the darkness of womanhood and motherhood.

It’s going to take work and it is going to take us all, but we can help each other stay in the light.

Keep your eyes open.

Recognize the struggling mommas around you and engage them. Whether it is texting, coffee date, or just chatting them up at school drop off, keep talking to the new mommas and new again mommas in your circle. They need to know that someone sees them when they are drowning in the chaos of babyland and toddler/preschool years.

Step out of your own bubble.

I get in my own groove with my own issues in life that I sometimes don’t want to invite anyone else into it. Accept the playdates. RSVP to the party. Invite the new girl in the neighborhood to your coffee shop or book club. Whatever it is, we need to embrace the social side of life, even if it means we have to spend an hour to load up our brood for two hours of chaos. We need to get out and see the life outside of our bubble.

Keep telling your story.

We need to hear the stories from other women who have stepped through the dark days.  We need the stories of how our sisters learned self-love and acceptance. We need to hear the stories of how our sisters survived post-partum anxiety. We need to hear the stories of how our sisters found physical and mental health. We need to hear the stories of how our sisters found balance.

Keep fighting.

If you are in a dark place, keep fighting to get to the light. Don’t give up. If it is severe, pick up the phone and call your doctor. Get medicine. Go to therapy. Don’t let the blues turn to black. Get outside. Get your body moving. Feed your body what it needs. Feed your soul the love it craves. Keep fighting until you win.

Shine your light to others in real life.

If you are in a good place in your womanhood, shine it to other women. Reach out to the group around you beyond a social media post. Real connection ALWAYS trumps online inspiration. Make the drive. Take the meal. Send the cards. Take their kids.

We need each other. We need the village. Your strength is the strength of others.

So sweet sisters, do whatever you can to love on yourself so you can love others. We cannot pour from empty cups. We were made to do this life together. We have to remember that women were created as the masterpiece of God. His final work of creation. Our very identity is in the beauty and strength of God himself.

If you are in a dark place, please do not hesitate to get help.
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/

Life is good. Walk out of the dark into the light.

High five for home.

psalm 46:5

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About Kendra

Kendra is a full time elementary teacher and mommy to a sweet and sassy 7 year old. She poured her heart and soul into her classroom and earning her graduate degree before becoming a mom and has spent motherhood trying to find a way to balance career and home and appreciate the journey while doing it. She’s a lake loving, ranch on pizza, pop can recycling, map on her hand Michigan girl! This momma never learned how to play euchre, but you can find her making a pretty long list, reading a book, or planning her next adventure in America’s high five! High five for home!

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16 Comments

  1. January 11, 2019 / 2:51 am

    Same things can be said for Stay At Home Dads. I left my job when my son was born (my wife’s job had far better benefits) I definitely received quite a bit of judgement and more than my fair share of sideways looks. It is also can be very awkward booking playdates with married moms which makes for some lonely days (especially during cold Michigan winters). But I love watching my little toddler play and figure things out. Pound for Pound, he is the most demanding boss I ever had, but when he hugs me, it makes it all worth it.

    • January 11, 2019 / 3:37 am

      I can imagine SAHD life might be even lonelier. Thank you for sharing your perspective!

  2. Kathryn
    January 11, 2019 / 4:21 am

    Oh man, some days can be so hard. Thank you for providing awareness and an opportunity for those in need. I will be looking out more for myself and others!

    • January 11, 2019 / 5:33 pm

      We are stronger together. Eyes open and hearts ready to embrace. We can do hard things!

  3. January 11, 2019 / 4:27 am

    Such a beautifully written post. You are so right, women (mothers or not) cannot pour from an empty cup. I literally just said the same thing in my last blog post. We need to consistently support one another & lift each other up, while also taking time to care for ourselves! Mothers & women in general, are amazing!

    -Madi xo | http://www.everydaywithmadirae.com

    • January 11, 2019 / 5:32 pm

      We were made to do hard things, but we need to fill up first! I will be stopping by your blog to check out your post as well.

  4. January 11, 2019 / 4:51 am

    Yes, motherhood isn’t as lovely as others think it is. I have two boys and I know how hard it is to raise them with my husband traveling a lot.

    • January 11, 2019 / 5:31 pm

      I hope you have a strong circle of support around you. Momlife is the hardest job in the world! (According to my sister, boy momlife is the hardest.)

  5. January 11, 2019 / 7:00 am

    It is a shame that people with depression still feel as if they have to hide and when something happens like taking your life, people will finally see it. We’re in a society where we are allowing people to be how they feel inside but we can’t talk about depression.

    • January 11, 2019 / 5:34 pm

      Good point! We can be anything in this world except sad it seems. It is hard to climb out of our dark alone. We were designed for community. We can do hard things!

  6. January 11, 2019 / 10:07 am

    We all need to support each other either way be it stay at home mums/dads the problem is someone always has to have something judgemental to say without knowing the person they are judging first.

    • January 11, 2019 / 5:35 pm

      So true! There is a difference between judgement/condemnation and constructive, loving critique. We have to tell people they can do better, but we must do so first by building relationship and always with love. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. January 11, 2019 / 6:40 pm

    While being a parent is definitely hard, like you mention, having the right support (and i am so glad i have it) makes it easier and better, and your kids always always make it all worthwhile!

    • January 12, 2019 / 5:24 pm

      The support system does make a huge difference! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. January 12, 2019 / 1:54 pm

    So sorry for your loss. Very thought-provoking piece.

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