Why is it so hard for us to be vulnerable? I have been struggling to ask for help even though I desperately need it through this difficult season of my life. Some days I just need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to bend, someone’s quiet presence, extra hands to hold the baby, a hot shower, or a fixed meal. Sometimes just the thought of having to eat can be overwhelming and my showers are rushed as I listen to the cries of an upset, unattended baby. And honestly, I just don’t want to do it all alone.
While I was pregnant, I was surrounded by beautiful-hearted individuals who were eager to offer a helping hand, but it so hard to ask for help when the time comes that you really need it. The request is too big or too small to justify the drive. It’s too early or too late. They are too busy with their own lives or kids. I don’t want to be a burden. My house is a mess or I’m a mess.
Vulnerability is being able to show youself and your mess. It’s revealing to others that you can’t do it alone even when you would like to pretend that you can. It’s letting yourself cry and allowing your true emotions to show. It’s giving up the need to impress others and giving in to your own needs. It’s believing that you are enough and you are worthy. It’s having the strength to expose your true self as a flawed, imperfect human.
Vulnerability does not signify weakness; it shows courage.
“The what-if’s and the should-have’s will eat your brain”
– John O’Callaghan
Returning to work after having a baby is hard and poses so many questions. Will my baby know me? Will he feel abandoned? Will I feel guilty? Will I be able to leave him? Am I going to feel empty- handed or hearted without him? Am I making a mistake? This time is so precious and he is my last baby. Will I recover from this decision?
I will be going back in about a month and even the thought of returning is overwhelming and fills me with fear. I was able to stay home for the most perfect year with Emily and I was able to be the mom I wanted to be. I was there for all the firsts in the first year. I bonded with her as I breastfed exclusively and talked with my baby girl as if she was my only friend. We laughed and played and our mornings weren’t rushed and full of frustration. I was crafty and creative. I took so many photos. My daughter was happy and I thrived on that joy. I had time to exercise and meal prep; we ate better. As a working mom, I am scrambling to just get something on the table.
However, money was tight and I couldn’t always keep busy. During a deployment, I definitely want to stay busy! I already miss my coworkers and I love the work that I do. I also want to be able to shop! I enjoy some good retail therapy and I don’t like feeling guilty for spending money I didn’t earn myself.
I keep telling myself that I am going back, but will it be that easy? Will I be able to walk out the door and trust that the strangers at the daycare center will be able to meet his needs? He is my last baby. How will I cope? Will I spend the first weeks back sobbing in the lactation room? Will I envy every mother who is staying home with her babies?
I am struggling to answer these questions and I know that many of them stem from anxiety. Anxiety that is steadily increasing with each passing day. And I know I need to remain mindful. I want to be present with my son during the precious time that we have left. If I am reading a story or singing him a song, I will do only that. I will try to stop my mind from wandering. Of course, this is easier said than done. As moms, we can only hope we are making the best decisions for our families.
I tried to return the Owlet baby monitor this morning, the one that monitors baby’s pulse and oxygen and costs an arm and a leg. I was past the 45-day window, but I asked for an exception to be made since Carson will not be able to use it with his brace. His clubbed foot is being corrected and he will need to keep his brace on during nights and naps for his first couple years of life. The woman on the phone asked her supervisor, but was unable to receive authorization for the return. Tears immediately filled my eyes and I rushed her off the phone. Normally, I would have asked to speak with her supervisor and continued to attempt to retrieve a refund, but I couldn’t. I began to feel those hopeless feelings that usually accompany depression. The word depression is one that puts a sour taste in my mouth. I try desperately to stay far away from it and keep those feelings and thoughts stowed away. Unfortunately, so many of us know the symptoms. We know what it feels like to start slipping away when those feelings begin to consume us.
Yesterday I had plans to attend a work baby shower and introduce my coworkers to Carson, but I came up with four excuses not to go. That’s how it starts. We would rather be alone, avoid all contact with the outside world, and then we stop getting out of bed in the morning altogether. But as a mom, wife, and individual, I know I have to find the strength. The strength to talk to a professional. The strength to possibly take medication to treat an imbalance. And the strength to use the tools and skills that I teach at work.
It can be difficult to ask for help. I have definitely struggled due to stigma and shame. But we all need to take care of mental illness just as we would physical illness. It takes time and effort and some days you may feel too exhausted to cope with the sorrow, but it is treatable!
How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard
— Winnie the Pooh.
We had to say goodbye on Monday. I dreaded the arrival of this day and nothing could have prepared me for the emotions I would feel in the weeks leading up to the final hug. It was the last time I would feel his touch. The last photo I would take of him with our children. The last moments we would have together until the end of next summer.
I never envisioned myself as a military spouse. This is my first deployment and his third. He is a seasoned soldier and he expressed his concerns and provided several warnings when we began dating. But I chose to love him anyway and I will continue to choose him always. I made a promise to love him through it all, but it still hurts. I still feel sad, angry, lonely, and hopeless. I know that I should embrace my new role, but I only feel resentment and dispair.
I will allow myself to move a little slower the first few weeks, but I know I have to gather the strength and courage to continue to move forward and establish a “new normal” without my husband and without my children’s father. The man I have come to rely on for daily support, strong hands, and a gentle touch is gone. Trying to hold back the tears has been impossible and I advise other moms to let the tears flow and let your children in. They hurt too and revealing real, raw emotions reminds them that it is okay to feel their own. Feelings are normal and we are simply showing them one, healthy way of responding to those feelings. Often times as parents, we forget the importance of validation and empathy when our children are sad or frustrated and simply do not know how to react to their emotions. Remember, it is reasonable to spend time crying. I know I certainly have as I carry my box of tissues around the house with me.
Be kind to yourself! Yesterday, I was feeling so guilty about my anger toward my spouse. I was irritable and was thinking it might ease the pain if I started to push him away. I had not heard from him and when he finally called, I could not get off the phone fast enough. After learning that he arrived safely, I just wanted to be left alone. I truly am proud of this man and what he does for our family and country, but in that moment I was so frustrated with him and then my irritability turned to guilt and again I began to cry uncontrollably. As military wives, we must remind ourselves that even when we think our feelings are unreasonable, they are still valid. We need to have compassion for ourselves while having compassion for our husbands who are missing home and their sense of normalcy too.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
I have many names and duties as a mom, wife, and woman. I have three big little blessings: Bradley James, 5; Emily June, 3; and Carson John, 1 month. I am the wife of Sargeant Hobbs. I work full-time at a community mental health agency with children and families. And I have several of my own dreams, hobbies, and interests.
I chose to start this blog because I am a woman who struggles with real, raw emotions, trials, and triumphs. I have read the blogs of many others who have inspired and encouraged me with their thoughts and ideas. Others who have offered a sense of relief as I have realized I am not alone. There are many other parents struggling with similar behaviors, relationships, feelings, and events. I want to be able to share my own experiences and thoughts with you and I hope that I am able to offer some encouragement and support as you may be tired and facing your own challenges.