This is YOU

When you come across a picture of oneself and are impelled to use it as your profile pic, you know you’ve hit a good one.

Scrolling through the images my daughters snapped when they commandeered the family camera, I found one such picture.

One hand on my knee, other on that hip, I am leaning into the camera. My face is the first thing the lens encounters. I am smiling, my laugh lines and crow’s feet in full effect. My eyes alight with joy and love.

People who’d seen the photo commented that it was lovely, adorable, beautiful, terrific. One friend said it made her smile. Another said:

This is YOU, very much alive and ready… Love it

All very wonderful, but it wasn’t until I gave photo cred to my daughter that I realized that was why this picture was so successful. It wasn’t how gorgeous I am or how fashionable my scarf was; it was the love radiating toward my daughter through the lens.

Now, the average parent – or grown child who fully grasps the connection between parent and offspring – might think this explanation is obvious, unnecessary. To me, it’s a huge a-ha moment.

Amidst the anguish and uncertainty that followed me through the postpartum period of her birth, I was afraid she wouldn’t feel loved. I was afraid that soft yet strong, gentle yet fierce protector of a mother would never show through all the layers of dark, depressive, disgusted and disgusting matter hiding it.

Yet, here I am, five years later, beaming at her radiantly. Looking the best I have in awhile and all lit up because of her. If I ever doubted whether my love shone through, now I have photographic evidence.

YOU* Please note that simply smiling will not heal postpartum depression.  I am still shoring certain parts of myself up after five years.  It’s okay if you don’t feel like smiling right now.  There are other ways your baby will know love and there are ways you can get help.  Talk to your physician, your baby’s pediatrician, or sites like postpartumprogress.com

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

A new mother, five week old strapped to her abdomen, stood nearby as I spoke to another returning preschool mother as we all three watched our little ones play.

My anxious hackles were actually down, since my daughter had had a few play dates with this other mother’s daughter between the end of last school year and the beginning of this one. I knew her well enough that conversation seemed to come easily – a small miracle for me with nearly anyone other than family or close friends.

Seeing this new mother navigate a newbie preschooler with infant in tow brought me back to my own first experience with preschool – a time otherwise known as the year that shall not be named.

What a difference between the easy, breezy tenor of today and the hell on earth that nearly every morning was as I unwittingly struggled with postpartum and getting three children out of the house each morning.

Forgive me as I recite the Virginia Slims cigarette commercial catch phrase.

from a t-shirt of the same name

from a t-shirt of the same name

I try to tell myself that as I ease my muscles down from the twitchy edge.

I try to remember that time – only to make any morning issue seem that much easier now.

I try to recall just enough to vindicate my survival – not send me down the path of PTSD.

And I try to share the short version of my story, not to scare young mothers or one up them, but to provide a sympathetic show of support. Even if it’s just a knowing smile to show them they are not alone, that they are not the only one who struggles with such pedestrian endeavors.

And to remind myself that yes, I have come a long way.

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