So I had grand plans to blog 2-3 times a week and that has proven to be a difficult task. Raising tiny humans might have something to do with it or maybe it’s because during some nap times, instead of blogging I take care of my basic needs. Ya know, feed myself, shower, brush my teeth. The luxuries. But don’t fret, today I’m freshly un-showered and drinking breakfast while I type 🙂
I’ve been running this blog through my head for a while now. I overheard someone in the grocery store the other day use this phrase. It was probably while my toddler was screaming at the top of his lungs, “Mama NO! NO bun! Fish mama! Fish!” Let me translate. That would be toddler speak for get me some damn goldfish and stop trying to make me eat those organic cheddar bunnies.
I do like the phrase. Silence is in fact golden. It would have rained golden snowflakes if my toddler didn’t speak a word at the grocery store that day. Or right now for instance, it is dead silent. All I hear is my dog snoring and my computer keys clicking. Golden. Actually, let’s be real. Sometimes I don’t blog during nap time not because I’m indulging in my basic needs, but rather because – it’s silent! I don’t want to do anything in that moment but lay on the cold tile and soak it all in. And sometimes I do in fact lay on the floor and then accidentally fall asleep before I’m startled awake by my crying baby.
As beautiful as silence can be, it can also be a big fat sign of trouble. And by trouble I mean my toddler is doing something b.a.d. Dude can be happy as a clam, building blocks or playing with trucks when I stupidly decide it is the perfect moment to go relieve my bladder. Sure enough within seconds, the ugly silence happens. The kind of silence that causes me to forgo wiping and hop out the bathroom as I try to pull my pants up only to find dude climbing to his death, or drawing scribbles on the wall with a sharpie, or drinking from the half empty beer bottle my husband left on his desk. Yea, that happened, judge all you want. Whatever the case, silence most definitely is not always a good thing. Which got me to thinking about another type of silence that is not golden.
The mommy silence. Or parent silence. No, human silence. Hell, I don’t know what to call it really, but what I’m referring to is the terrible amount of emotions, thoughts, and feelings so many of us silently struggle with. So often we are expected to put on a happy face and smile and nod and generally appear to the outside world like we’ve got our beautiful rainbow-colored shit together. But inside we are feeling anything but rainbows and butterflies.
This has happened in every stage of my life. When I was in grad school I went to Africa for my final internship and while life changing and beautiful, it was also difficult beyond measure. I was home sick, I was struggling to connect with the family we lived with, I was in complete and utter culture shock, but more than anything I was working with children and families living and breathing stomach churning levels of poverty, violence, and trauma. When people asked me how the experience was, they were looking for a specific answer. They didn’t want to know about murdered children, multi-generational incest and rape, or AIDS victims. They wanted to hear how wonderful my trip was and if I saw a giraffe.
People hear I went to Africa and think I was Jack Hannah the whole semester.
The same was true after I got married. People would ask how newlywed life was. Again, no one wants to hear well we’ve been fighting a lot cause it’s kinda hard to share living space with a dude. They want to hear, oh it’s so wonderful and we are so in love. Then came my pregnancies. How are you feeling? Oh I’m just glowing with joy and can’t wait to meet my baby. No, I can’t take a dump, I pee my pants at least once a day, and the smell of chicken makes me want to hurl in your face. I’m also scared shitless about raising a tiny human, but I’ll just give you the answer you are looking for instead. Then came actual motherhood. The usual vague check-in from family and friends came flooding in – how’s it going? They want to hear it’s so great. I love my baby. He’s perfect. But the reality was I was suffering from postpartum anxiety, I sobbed ugly tears on a frequent basis, and this tiny itty bitty human was sucking the life out of me. Literally from my boob and then figuratively by not letting me sleep, eat, pee, or drink hot coffee.
I did not love being pregnant. Probably because I couldn’t drink wine.
The point is, it doesn’t have to be this way. If we actually answered things honestly then we might be hella surprised at people’s reactions. Well, there are definitely a few individuals that prefer the silence and don’t want to hear the truth. I blogged some about that concept here. For the most part though, I feel pretty confident you might get a huge sigh of relief from the person on the other end. It’s highly likely they too have felt something similar and allowing yourself the space to be open and honest can not only be therapeutic in itself, but can also open doors for a world of support and understanding from those living parallel experiences. Silence can definitely be golden, but it can also be exhausting. I encourage everyone to give themselves grace. You are doing the best you can every day and sometimes you just need the silence to end.