From the outside we would look like a group of average suburban moms. Our cliché uniform of black yoga pants and t-shirts, our ponytails hiding the grease from days without showers and the minivans parked in the driveway. Our homes are big and cluttered and waiting for the next Pinterest-inspired DIY project. Our children are young and involved in everything from sports to dance to choir. Our husbands leave each morning for work with hot coffee in hand and we gather to share our morning brew. The conversation is centered on who is the most desired fourth grade teacher, the great sale at the grocery down the street and where will we go for the next Mom’s Night Out. We are your average Midwestern suburban stay at home moms.
Except for the secrets and stories we all keep.
These women and I share more than our love of reality television and a great margarita; we share our struggles with depression and anxiety. These “average moms” have held angels who have passed too early and watched as husbands struggle with a liquor bottle. These “average moms” have sat next to their newborn babies in the ICU and answered the phone and heard the dreaded “there’s been an accident.” These “average moms” have buried mothers and fathers, siblings and friends. We have experienced life and loss and pain and regret and worry. The roads we have traveled have taken us through different landscapes but we have all arrived at the same destination: a sisterhood of “average moms” who need the help of a little medication every morning to quiet those “if onlys.”
If only I could lose those last 10 pounds, I would be happy.
If only he would stop drinking, I would be happy.
If only she would sleep through the night, I would be happy.
If only my house were organized, I would be happy.
If only I got more sleep, I would be happy.
If only I weren’t so tired, I would be happy.
Each of us stood at a cross roads one day and thought “these feelings can’t be normal” and recognized the “if onlys” are a lie. We could attain all of those things we thought we wanted and we still would be filled with pain and regret and worry. But rather than keep our struggles to ourselves, we share . . . and share . . .and share. We make light of the need to boost our serotonin with the help of our prescribed medication. We encourage each other to call when the feelings of worry and anxiety begin to creep to the surface. We remind each other to be well for our families we must be well for ourselves.
Recently, I talked with a friend who has a circle of friends who do not share their struggles openly. Perhaps they are afraid of the judgement that may come with the idea of “having it all” and still not being happy. Perhaps their road has yet to lead them to the conclusion that the “if onlys” are a lie. Or, perhaps they are, in fact, all really happy. But my web of motherhood extends across the United States and the struggle of the “average mom” against the “if onlys” is alive and well in every nook and cranny.
So I share my struggle with her, my feelings of anxiety and worry and anger. My realization that I didn’t need to just lose that baby weight, get my house organized, pay off a bill or two and then I would be happy. My difficulty in the decision to finally make the call and admit “I need help.” And I promise her that we are not alone. I invite her into my web of motherhood. To come and sit among my friends who are beautiful on the outside but whose souls struggle the same as hers. We are all the average mom who is “not so average.” Hopefully she isn’t afraid to share how she may feel choked by the privilege of suburbia. Hopefully she would feel welcomed into our circle with open arms and a recommendation for which medication we have found works the best. Hopefully she will become another mom who learns the lie of the “if only.” But most importantly, I hope she finds comfort in the community of women who have walked so many difficult roads but now can find their reason to laugh and giggle and exhale and love with abandon. Thanks to a little medication each day.
Aileen is a wife, mother, Child of God, runner, lover of lists, whole food and great coffee. She is passionate about helping other women learn to take small steps to improve their health, fitness and nutrition. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom and novice blogger, she was a pediatric nurse for over a decade and saw how healthy parents can influence a child more than anything else. Her prayer is to model health and wellness to her own family and those folks that I “do life” alongside. Find her at Small Steps of Change and on Twitter.
We want to hear your uplifting, inspiring, funny, or touching story about your experience as a mother. Please visit our Storytellers page for more information on how to be published on the Good Mother Project blog.