Lately my body hasn't been working up to par. I've been plagued with various illnesses from strep and scarlet fever to stomach bugs and headaches. I went to my doctor last week to try and get to the bottom of why my immune system seems AWOL. I brought a list of symptoms with me, as I figured any one could be the key to unlocking the mystery.
My doctor did some blood work (which came back fine) and then sat back thoughtfully and listened to my grocery list of ill health. When I was finished, her first question was whether my family had a history of mental illness. I was sort of taken aback as none of my symptoms were mental, they were all physical. I quickly dismissed her idea that I may be depressed or over-stressed. I mean, I have a very supportive husband, an equally supportive extended family, a pretty perfect life...what the heck would I be depressed or stressed about. But now, a week later, I'm thinking back on her diagnosis and wondering if she might have touched on a truth.
As you know, I have a huge aversion to admitting that I can't cope with things or that my problems are anything more than trivial. I can always find someone out there who has a much bigger burden than I have and who (outwardly) is coping fantastically, so I clam up. Afraid to admit that I'm having trouble dealing with much smaller issues. And yet, something in me seems to be cracking. There's a fissure behind the pressure and I think a large part of it is self induced. This effort to maintain a perfect exterior to the world is actually causing more harm than good.
I am stressed. In the past two years, we have had a baby, moved 500kms, changed jobs (Adam many times), lived through some pretty major infections, bought a house, started a business, and struggled to pay the bills. And the whole time all of this was going on, I kept my brave face on. I told everyone that we were fine. That it was just another hump and we'd push through. And yet, when I look back, our road of life looks like the car-eating potholed roads of Costa Rica. There were so many times we were balanced on the edge of one of those huge holes and somehow we teetered past. Often by the skin of our teeth. But I didn't talk about it. I didn't admit to anyone that we were struggling. I was too proud. And with Adam chugging along beside me, often picking up my slack, I felt that if I caved, I would bring him down with me.
Now that we're on the other side of the storm (I hope), the weight of it all is catching up with me. It's not easy being a working mum. And it's definitely not easy being a working mum who kept a stiff upper lip through some major life transitions. I think it's time I cut myself some slack. Let myself admit that I'm tired and drained. This is a tough gig, a 24-7 job. And anyone who can do it without breaking a sweat is probably wearing the same perfect mum mask I've been lugging around.
So I heed this call: Imperfect mothers of the world unite. Let's air this dirty laundry and admit that it's a grueling, filthy, stressful, never ending job to be a mother. That our hours stink and the list of duties grows daily. That every time we master the skills we need, a new one is required. That there are many days that our minds and bodies are pushed to the breaking point. That sometimes despite our best efforts, we can't fix the situation at hand. That the most important job on the planet, that of raising the next generation, is unpaid and under-valued. That we race to the ends of the earth and attempt to overcome insurmountable obstacles for those we brought forth into the world. And that we wouldn't have it any other way.