" He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby becomes a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee" -Nietzsche
I hadn't planned on being a stay at home mom, not full time. "I don't think I'd handle it well, I need to stay busy" I had told my coworker, in an offhanded and cheery voice when I was still dealing with infertility. Then, pregnancy disabled me and eventually led to losing my job. My plans of negotiating a part time schedule after my maternity leave were pushed aside, as I swam through months of bedrest punctuated by medical appointments. Even then, I had an offer from a friend that I could bring my baby and come work with her baking part time out of her home, and that's what I told people when they asked what I planned to do once the baby arrived.
Fast forward two years. I am still home with my son, full time. I watch a friend's baby in my home on weekday afternoons, and I write this blog. Next fall, my son will start preschool, and I will stop watching my friend's child. I am staring this void in the face, no concrete idea of what my next step will be, and it's daunting. It adds tremendous pressure and anxiety to blogging to "turn it into something" by then, and I constantly question whether that is even the right move for me. I am always wondering about and writing mini-business plans in my head and in GoogleDocs for other side hustles I could add to my repertoire. Writing more for other publications. Personal styling. Designing websites. Interior decorating. Cooking lessons. The possibilities swirl before me and are so overwhelming it's difficult not to just shut down entirely.
Over the last month and a half, our family has lived through a perfect storm of my husband being swamped with grad school (on top of work), my son suddenly being very difficult and two, and my most recent significant depressive episode. My son and I seem to have pulled out of the worst of our troubles simultaneously, though my husband is still working as hard as ever.
At the lowest point of this tough time, I was laying in bed after taking a shower during my son's nap on a Saturday afternoon. My husband came in, and I announced, staring at the ceiling "I am not good. I am really not okay right now." He came to sit with me, and as I explained to him what the inside of my head was like at the moment, I realized the crux of everything was that after two years at home, I was feeling utterly worthless. With the behavioral challenges I had been having with my son, I felt like I was failing him in my role as a caregiver, and that he would be better off in daycare, but we were trapped in our current arrangement because I didn't believe I could make enough money to afford and validate having him in daycare, at least not without giving up all of my own projects, which would further add to my sense of total failure.
As is his style, my husband talked me through the worst of it, with many suggestions of tactics to take to move forward, and the assurance he would do whatever he could to support the changes I needed to make to be okay. When you spend your life carrying around a backpack full of limiting beliefs about yourself, it is nearly impossible to tell where your true limitations are, and that's where I'm at now. I am staring at a pile of ideas, many of which I am really excited about, and I am so bogged down by negative self talk that I am left with no way of accurately weighing my options effectively enough to choose a direction to move in.
I want to be the brave, enterprising person who makes her own business thrive; going all in and believing in her dreams, but there are days where I feel like I can barely make myself lunch, and in those moments, it seems impossible that I could succeed at anything that hinged on my keeping it together. Balancing depression and an impending major life change is something I know I've never done well in the past, but I am determined to do better this time, mostly for the sake of my husband and son, since they're along for the ride with me, but I understand somewhere in the back of my head, also for me. If I'm not doing it for me too, it's not going to pan out.
In this moment, I am feeling raw and worn out. Having another depressive episode, despite being on medication, was a wake up call for me that this is a chronic condition, one I am always going to have to take into account. Even the better, "high functioning" days are not easy. I have an amazing support network that is there to catch me if I fall, but I have to start climbing again if I'm going to have anywhere to fall from. I have some promising leads. I have some good ideas, but they aren't any good to me if I don't move forward with any of them.
How do other people handle this, the collision of motherhood, mental health, and uncertain vocation? I'd love to hear about it, for real, this isn't just one of those things you say at the end of a blog post to get people to engage. I'd really love to know how other people handle this. Because I just don't know.
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