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When you have a child, Mother’s Day is one of those holiday milestones you look forward to. Or you hope to, anyway. Many of us envision sleeping in, being served breakfast in bed by the kids and handed flowers by our doting husband or partner. Everyone is all smiles and ready for a perfect day..….except, when it isn’t.
My first Mother’s Day left much to be desired. It was May 8, 2005, which was also my son’s 6-month birthday. And it was also one of those unwritten deadlines that I gave myself to “feel better.” Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was suffering from a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, more specifically postpartum OCD. I had it in my head that all the intrusive thoughts would just go away. This deadline made all the sense in the world to me.
After all, it was my first Mother’s Day and Corey’s 6-month birthday, right? I was to wake up that morning with my breakfast in bed, flowers, smiles, etc… and all will be dandy.
Except it wasn’t.
Being that it was 15 years ago, the memories are a little fuzzy. What I do remember clearly is NOT feeling better. Crap. “It” didn’t go away.
Now, my husband did go out early with my son to buy me the obligatory large coffee from the deli and a breakfast sandwich. But shortly after, we were heading to lunch with my parents, aunt, uncle and cousins at a diner about 45 minutes away. As we were driving there, I felt a little queasy, but figured that it would pass. We walked into the diner and members of my family were in the waiting area. So many people. It was hot. I was sweating. And crowded and I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t be there. I had to step outside for air. They’re calling me in now – the table is ready. I can’t do this. And we left. I never even made it to the table and I don’t think I even saw my whole family.
When we arrived home, I crawled into bed. I asked my husband to keep my son away from me, as I didn’t want to spread any germs in the case that I was really sick. A little while passed by and my husband asked if he could take my son and spend the rest of Mother’s Day with his mother. He’d let me rest and relax. And it was fine….go. I just wanted to be alone and to sleep, which I did for the rest of the day on and off.
It was my first Mother’s Day. My beautiful son’s 6-month birthday. Two milestones. Gone. I’ll never get that back. This was supposed to be a good day.
Fast forward 1 year to Mother’s Day 2006 – May 14th. My son just turned 18 months old. It had been about 4 months since I was officially diagnosed with a PMAD, started therapy and began to take meds. I was starting to feel like myself again! We held the Mother’s Day celebration in our apartment, with my side of the family and my husband’s side of the family all in attendance. It was truly a time to celebrate!
Fast forward another year to Mother’s Day 2007 – May 13th. I had found out that week that I was expecting again – all fully planned. We spent the morning at the playground with my parents and watching my son playing. We shared the news that day with my parents that Corey would be a big brother later on that year.
What a world of difference – in the span of two short years! On that first Mother’s Day, no one could have convinced me that this day would ever be a day that I’d look forward to. I’d always be sucked back into how I felt on that first Mother’s Day. The day would forever be officially ruined. I’m happy to say that this couldn’t be further from the truth. That said, I will never forget how low I felt on that first Mother’s Day. It makes me quite thankful and grateful for my eventual diagnosis and subsequent recovery. It’s a time for me to reflect and celebrate how far I’ve come in this motherhood gig!
Holidays can be tough and might not live up to your expectations. And with the hype around Mother’s Day and the way it’s portrayed on television and in the movies, or your observations of friends and family, it’s inevitable that you’ll want to make comparisons to your life. All I can say is please do your best not to.
If you’re in throes of a PMAD, don’t question yourself if you’re not feeling festive. You have all the permission on the world to feel what you feel. Take it from someone who has had that rock bottom feeling – it’ll come in time. It might not feel like it, but it will. If you’re ready to celebrate, please do and don’t feel guilty. Look how far you’ve come – you’ve worked hard for it.