On Postpartum Depression: The Girl Who Always Smiles

I’ve always liked to smile. I like what it does to people. I like to see people go from disturbed and frustrated to relaxed and okay because of a smile and a kind word. But you only know what you see. It’s really not your fault. You see me smile and laugh and do my best to encourage others. You see my loving husband, my beautiful little girls, my amazing life. And you are right.

But that’s all you know because it’s all you see.

My constant smile exhausts me. It literally makes me tired. I smile all day to prevent you from seeing what is going on inside that I can’t control. They call it “Postpartum Depression.” But it’s really more like Hell. I can’t control my emotions. I can’t control my outbursts. I can’t control the tears, the rage, the overwhelming guilt. I smile as a prevention, if you will. I’m afraid that if you saw all these things I have a hard time controlling, you’d see me as what I fear I already am: a horrible person or worse- a hypochondriac, a hypocrite just looking for attention.

So I smile.

Meanwhile, my amazing husband holds me while I cry, forgives me while I rage about ridiculous things like entering through the exit, and reminds me that this is temporary and eventually will subside. But twenty months in, I have started to wonder. I fear this isn’t “postpartum” any longer.

While you tell me how you admire how I smile constantly, I think about how I yelled for the hundredth time at my precious four-year-old for doing something four-year-olds do. I think about how many days, I end up a sobbing heap on the floor and can’t explain why. What sweet child should see her mother do these things? Even worse, she wants to be just like me when she grows up and I’m terrified of what that could mean if she is to pick up the behaviors I’ve exhibited over the past two years.

I can’t explain what it’s like to have a great life, to know how great it is, and yet somehow not be able to enjoy it fully. Or what it’s like to feel like a fraud every. single. day. because I fake it. Or to wonder how I can fake it for the outside world, but not for my own husband and kids- the three people in the world who mean the most to me, who I love more than life itself. I can’t explain the feeling of getting in the car after work and crying after having held it together all day, but not knowing why I’m crying. Because I actually feel pretty happy right then.

And I know- it’s technically “hormones being imbalanced.” But I still feel they should have gone back to normal by now. I’m terrified that this is the new normal.

I wish I could understand how I feel. I wish I could just be me again. But, I’m not me. I’m someone I don’t recognize and I certainly don’t like.

I am the girl who always smiles…

 

You Made Me Mommy

I packed up a bag with all of your clothes,

Diapers, blankets and socks for your toes. 

We waited while they made a room free. 

It was time for me to become a Mommy. 
Dad held my hand for 9 hours straight. 

He refused to leave me alone to wait. 

Then here you came with ten little toes, 

Daddy’s eyes and Mommy’s nose. 
You had no hair. Your tongue stuck out. 

Six pounds, seven and one half ounce. 

That moment I looked at our sweet baby

And that was the moment you made me Mommy. 
Your whole first year was an awakening. 

Snuggles, kisses and nighttime feeding. 

Year two we watched as you became you 

Year three I saw some of Daddy in you too.
Year four I see in you so much of me. 

As you grow, I’m amazed at the beauty I see. 

Looking back, I feel that there’s so much I missed 

But I’ve always been here to hug and kiss. 
I thought I knew who God made me to be. 

But I didn’t truly know until you showed me.  

You’ve made me so much I never would be
You were the one who made me Mommy. 

20 Easy Steps to Getting Ready In the Morning- Mom Edition

Being a mama is serious work. But that’s doesn’t mean you have to suffer through not wearing makeup and feeling like a bum. Nope, I’m here to help! 

Here is a step-by-step guide for mamas to get in the mornings. Follow these tips and you’ll be in mom mode in no time! 

Step 1: Decide to put on makeup. 

Step 2: Ask 4-year-old where your makeup is. She just HAD to wear it and look like mommy. It’s now hidden in oblivion. Find it. May the odds be ever in your favor. 

Step 3: Pick out cute clothes for the day. Lay them flat on bed until time to wear them. (If you put them on now, the baby will have you filthy before you leave!)

Step 4: Chase down 4-year-old, take back makeup, threaten to abduct her princess dresses if she lays her grubby hands on the makeup again today. 
Step 5: Why is the one-year-old crying? She crawled onto the bed and can’t get down. Help her down. 

Step 6: Pick out new clothes. Baby just wiped PB&J all over the cute clothes you had lying on the bed. 

Step 7: Change Bra. She wiped PB &J on that, too. 

Step 8: Turn on VeggieTales or Sherriff Callie to occupy tiny humans while you get ready. 

Step 9: Go to bathroom and prepare to put on makeup. 

Step 10: Go back to check on kids. They’re too quiet. It’s suspicious. 

Step 11: Baby saw you. Pick her up and take her with you to bathroom. 

Step 12: Try to put her down. Fail epically. She flails and screams on the floor. 

Step 13: Turn up the A/C. It’s getting hot in here. 

Step 14: Forget to wait and put on clothes.

Step 15: Remember why you didn’t put clothes on. Also remember to wipe PB&J off baby so the mess doesn’t reoccur. Take new dirty clothes off. 

Step 16: Spend 30 mins getting kids dressed and ready. 

Step 16: Still in your underwear, figure out why baby is screaming again. 

Step 17: Check clock. It’s nap time. That’s why she’s crying.  

Step 18: Fill sippy cup with milk, lay baby down for nap. 

Step 19: Realize you’re still naked with a towel on your head and no makeup. 

Step 20: Put on yoga pants and a ponytail and give up looking cute. 

You’re welcome. 

If you don’t have kids yet, you’ll understand later. 
Love to my loves, 

Cate

A Waitress’s Observations of Christians at Sunday Dinner

Today at work, my heart broke.

Sounds a bit dramatic, no? But it’s true. Let me explain.

I recently picked up an extra job at a local chain restaurant waiting tables. Today was my first time as a server on a Sunday and what I experienced was not what I was expecting.

If you’ve never worked in a chain restaurant as a waiter/waitress, I implore you to consider what waitstaff go through. It’s not just running food from the kitchen to your table. What you don’t see are the five other tables of anywhere from 4-7 people your waiter is serving in addition to your party. You don’t see the multiple trips back and forth to each of these tables with drink refills, rolls, salad, soup, and appetizers before the meal even makes it out. You don’t see the intricate input system the waitress must navigate just to put in the order or the cook who is making an entire restaurant worth of food all alone because the other cooks called out. You don’t see the orders backing up and the waitress getting the blame because she is the face of the restaurant. Your waiter also cleans up after each table, then after everyone is gone, spends two hours ON AVERAGE getting the restaurant ready for the next day. It’s not easy work. I never realized just how demanding this job is.

Clearly, the general public doesn’t either.

I work most other days of the week. I experience rushed diners anxious to eat and leave so they can get back to work on time. I experience families at dinnertime just trying to get the kiddos fed. I experience people coming in late to have some drinks and relax with their friends. For the most part, customers are kind and polite. They tend to tip moderately and leave with a smile. On occasion, there are those who can’t be satisfied and it doesn’t matter what the server does to remedy the situation. But, usually, it’s enjoyed by all.

So, when I was scheduled to work today, a Sunday, I was pretty excited. I thought it would be nice to get to wait on people who I could expect to be kind, have a few conversations about Jesus, and make a good bit of tips since we’d be so busy all day. What I experienced, though, broke my heart. While none of my own customers were rude, my coworkers experiences weren’t similar.

Here are some comments I heard from my coworkers today. See if you can discern what specific group of people they were referring to:

“I guess they gave all their money to the church and couldn’t afford to tip.”

“You can tell they just came from church. Aren’t they supposed to be “Christians?”

“Sundays are the WORST day to work.”

Now, does this concern anyone? It does me. Concern isn’t even the word. Heartbreaking.

Heartbreaking because I see these servers behind the scenes needing Jesus so desperately. Heartbreaking because the actions I see from my coworkers aren’t those of belligerent young adults or selfish people. (These are some of the kindest, most selfless people I’ve ever met.) Their actions are those of people who are hurting and seeking relationship, seeking love, seeking acceptance. They’re seeking Jesus- they just don’t know it. It’s heartbreaking because we leave church all dressed up and go out to eat with our families while these people are LITERALLY serving our every whim and we can’t even be courteous, kind, or generous. Do you know not ONE person today even after JUST leaving church tried to share Jesus with either myself or ANY of my eight other coworkers who were serving them?

WE, AS CHRISTIANS, ARE NOT BEING CHRISTLIKE!

So what are we even doing??????

Guys, I’m so upset. How is it that on a Sunday morning when hundreds of families came through our restaurant not one tried to talk to us about Jesus? How, also, is it that Sundays are overwhelmingly the worst days for tips? Now, I know that being a Christian and money aren’t signs or symbols of each other, but bear with me here for a second: If we come in our church clothes all full of joy and Jesus and pride and then leave our server a craptastic tip, (that’s not a technical term LOL) they don’t associate that stiff with us personally. They associate the stiff with our religion. WITH OUR GOD. If God is generous and we are called to be “Christ-like” can’t we spare an extra five bucks? Especially if we can afford to drop sixty dollars on lunch. **Standard tips are 15%-20%**

Guys, we HAVE to realize that we represent CHRIST. We don’t represent ourselves. We are the children of an almighty God, called to go into the world to save the lost, to make disciples of the people, to BE disciples. We have to think of what we are portraying in everything, even something as simple as going to lunch with our families.

Please. For the sake of the hurting. If your server forgets to put lemon in your water or it takes a bit longer than you’d like to receive your dinner, please remember who you are called to be like. Who you are called to represent. And who the server in front of you could become for Christ if they were just shown a bit of Grace and Mercy in the name of a Holy God.

 

Love to my loves,

Cate