I realized something tonight. Something that made me a little sad to admit.
I don’t really have many friends.
I was always the outsider, going against the grain. Bailing on events and occasions because I had been consumed by anxiety.
I lived on my own for over 5 years after an incredibly messy breakup – something I seem to blame a lot for.
I couldn’t disappoint anybody, and everything was on me. I only had myself to worry about.
I’m 32 years old and can safely say I have less than 5 people I could call on and they’d be there. While I know numbers don’t matter, I can’t help but feel sad. We live in this online world where everything is on show.
People have come and gone over the years, was this because of me? Did our lives just grow in different directions? Did they get what they needed from our friendship?
I get sad when I scroll my feed and see all the big groups of friends who have been together through it all. They got pregnant together, they plan their weddings together, their children grow up together – they even travel together. The constant feed that is social media is playing with my mind, telling me there is something wrong with me because I don’t have this.
I never went to a school formal, I got early exemption from the ministry of education to leave school when I was 15 and I’ve worked full-time ever since.
It probably makes me sound like a huge loser, and maybe I am? On reflection, it could seem petty – like is this all I am worried about? Do I not think my current friends are good enough? Not the case at all. I love the insanely small circle I have but can’t help but wonder if maybe I’ve pushed others away? There are people I once considered really good friends who have never even met my children yet continue to engage online like we’re still the best of friends.
Have I been so focused on my career that I’ve never bothered to really value a friendship in order for it to last? Am I a bad friend?
Has working in the online space for so long made me not able to function properly in real-world situations which has then hindered my ability to form normal relationships?
Has motherhood made me more lonely than ever before?
Please tell me I am not the only one that constantly feels like a loner.
As a mother and a human I have never felt so alone. I’m struggling with motherhood, I’m struggling with life in general.
I feel like I am fighting demons I can’t even begin to try and explain to people.
I am not posting this for attention, I’m posting this because it might explain why I don’t post or share much these days. What I do share is a tiny snippet of my life and people think I have it all sorted – I tell you now, I don’t.
My mental health currently has a firm grip on me and is ruling every aspect of my life.
I don’t want to eat, I don’t want to see anybody, I just want to yell or cry. I’ve done a lot of that. I’ve said things to my kids that I hate myself for.
How can people who are so small evoke so many emotions?
Today I realized that I am in this alone, regardless of the people who say they’ll be there – this is something that I think I am going to struggle with for the rest of my life. This is on me to try and overcome and I think maybe it’s time I try a different approach because the current approach is not working.
Today has been one of the worst days in a long time, I am in such a negative mindset and I am really down.
To the people who say I’m on here giving parenting advice yet in reality, I’m a terrible mother – thank you for making this dark depression even worse, for making me want to shut down everything I’ve worked for and disappoint the people I’ve helped better themselves.. I have only ever been real and honest about this journey and how I am feeling.
I know people say, you can talk to me but how on earth do you tell somebody about the horrible thoughts that go through your head? That sometimes you want to run away and never look back because others don’t deserve the sea-saw of emotions. That sometimes you’re just like honestly what’s the point? My existence isn’t even a happy one.
I love my kids, I truly do and I often think I don’t deserve them and that they deserve somebody better as a mother.
You may think somebody has it all sorted and has a really good life, but remember that small snippet is far from what the daily grind is like. I see others post photos of their happy families, of them winning this whole parenting thing and here’s me – wondering how I fucked it up so badly. I get jealous, I really do.
When I’m not yelling or ripping my hair out of sheer frustration, I just cry. Then some days the cloud is gone and things feel better – until it returns.
Why am I posting? I don’t know. I honestly feel like I can’t even tell anybody how I am feeling these days. I get criticized for posting stuff but this was my safe haven.
I struggle with depression and anxiety but I have also become a very angry person. I spend so much time trying to fix everybody else that I am falling apart from the inside out.
The mind is a scary place.
written by Sarah-Lee Patterson
I returned to work as soon as my 18 weeks of PPL were up. Not just for financial reasons but because I love my job & also because I knew my daughter (Parker) would thrive 110% better at Daycare, than she would at home with me. I do love being a Mum but staying at home & being responsible for my Daughters learning & development just wasn’t for me. It sounds terrible when I put that in words but I know I’m not the only one who worries about how much pressure that is felt to ensure you’re supporting your child in hitting their milestones.
I returned 3 days a week initially then gradually increased back to full time hours from there. In hindsight, I wish I had worked 3 day weeks until Parker was 12months old. Unknown to me, once Parker hit 7-8months old, I found that my life was a constant cycle of work, washing (to ensure there were plenty of fresh daycare clothes) & pureeing baby food. Especially because help at home was limited (my husband is out of town a lot for his job). This is when mild PND set in & I started to wonder what I was doing with my life. I had a discussion with my manager & it was agreed that I was able to work from home 1-2 days a week so I could keep on top of things. I feel really lucky to have had a workplace that supported this at a time where it could have gone the complete opposite way.
Everyone’s return to work situation is completely different – some will have more support at home, some will have less. But just know that there ARE other people in the same situation as you & everyone copes with similar situations in different ways. Talk it out with someone you feel comfortable with or your Doctor if needed & come up with a strategy to lessen your load. Both physically & mentally. I didn’t respond well to medication so a change in work/life balance was really only option.
Because I put Parker in Daycare so early & had friends going through the same battle of working out how to approach it after me, I often got asked my tips/tricks/hacks for starting Daycare & keeping on top of things, so here they are :
CLOTHING : Leave the cute stuff at home & keep it simple. In Winter, dress in bodysuits, trackies/leggings and sweatshirts. In summer, the same again but with short sleeves and shorts. We frequented the Warehouse, Kmart & even Baby Factory. They grow so fast that I used to buy things in a range of sizes. Especially if it was black or another dark colour with less chance of being stained by food.
USE THE DRYER : It’s my holy grail. If I had to hang every piece of Parker’s clothes out to dry, I’d certainly go stir crazy. If you insist on hanging out washing to save a few bucks on the electricity, use those offers of help to get it done.
PRE-PACK OUTFITS : If you’re OCD in terms of outfits that need to go together/colour co-ordinate, put together your baby’s weeks worth of individual outfits in plastic sleeves (I kept the ones that our cot sheets came in) or laundry delicates bags (which I used when she grew up a bit and her clothes were a bit bulkier), then in their own drawer or shelf. This makes for getting dressed quickly in the mornings & when Dad is there to help out with the morning routine, he doesn’t have the stress of finding a suitable daycare outfit either.
STOCK DAYCARE UP WITH THE ESSENTIALS : We would stock Daycare up with whole boxes of nappies, tins of formula and breakfast (Farex etc) so that all we needed to do was ensure there were a couple of changes of clothes & a sleep-sack in Parker’s bag each day. Then the addition of lunch once she started on solids. To make this easier, I would highly recommend finding a daycare that provides meals.
BULK MAKE FOOD & USE PRE-MADE POUCHES : Bulk make a weeks worth of puréed foods and pop it in Kai Karriers ready to go to Daycare for lunches &/or dinners. You can also do this for breakfasts and bulk containers of yoghurt. However, don’t feel guilty if you opt to send them along with pre-made pouches from the Supermarket. I did this a lot too to save my sanity and even now (Parker is 2) we still have a stash of fruit pouches in the cupboard and opt for yoghurt pouches for breakfasts or an easy snack.
DAYCARE BAG : You can use basically any bag – a lot of people use their nappy bags for the first little while. I invested in a Herschel bag for Parker last March and she has used it every day since. It’s still in great condition with no signs of wear. I highly recommend them. Also, Pop a wet bag in their bag for wet/dirty clothes (I believe most daycares are advising this now as they’re trying to go plastic bag free)
NAMING DAYCARE ITEMS : I went through the painstaking process of ironing Dymo name labels on all Parker’s daycare clothes. Realistically, this was more of a pain than helpful. Their clothes rarely go missing when they’re smaller as they generally have less changes of clothes. Name labeling is key when they’re transitioned to a toddler room though. Stuck on You labels are great but get the larger sized ones. Name all plastic surfaces with vinyl name labels – bottles, drink bottles, kai carriers & lunch boxes. I personally love using Vinyl Junkies. Their service is top notch and their labels last well too.
MAKE TIME FOR YOU : Take a day off work every now & then just for you and don’t feel bad about it. Everyone needs this. In fact, I checked myself into a hotel for the night a couple of times just to get some rest without worrying about anything else.
ACCEPT OFFERS OF HELP & DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP : I had friends bring dinner over a few times. Not just because I’m useless at cooking when it’s just myself at home but it was also nice to have the company on those days. Also, I know personally that if any of my friends needed help folding their laundry, doing their dishes or vacuuming their house, I would happily be there for them. If anything, I’d make me feel good knowing that they feel like that can reach out to me for help. This goes for babysitting too! It’s not so daunting looking after someone else’s kid now that I’m somewhat “experienced”.
HIRE HELP : if finances allow, just do it. We had someone come to do the essentials for us for a few months last year & it was so good knowing that each fortnight, the kitchen, bathroom and floors were getting a decent clean. I would walk in the door with a feeling of relief knowing I could just sit down for a few moments without feeling like my house was a absolute sty riddled with germs. Of course the cleanliness didn’t last with a toddler but at least temporarily, I could breathe a little.
Once Parker was somewhere between 12-18 months, juggling things did get easier. She can feed & entertain herself (mostly) which means there is some room for getting housework done while she is occupied & I got a new job that allows me to work flexible hours so now I get home a lot earlier than I used to.
So, if you’re about to return to work or have recently returned & are feeling like everything is a bit much, remind yourself that the best is yet to come. You may feel overwhelmed at times but it will pass & it does get better.