To the Mother Who Feels Like She is Drowning

 

To the Mother Who Feels Like She is Drowning

Dear Mother who feels like she is drowning,

I know you are struggling to breathe. I can hear the strangled sounds as your head pierces the water and you gasp for air. I can see your legs kicking furiously underneath the surface valiantly fighting for survival.

I know that mounting to do list is drowning you. I see you feeling suffocated in dirty washing, dirty dishes, dirty window sills and unclean toilets. I know that sometimes when you breathe it must be shallow breaths because the smell of urine seems to permeate so many places in your home, not least of all the toilet which you cleaned from top to bottom 20 minutes ago. I know how the sound of crying, screaming and whining dulls your senses and follows your relentlessly. I can see you locked in your cupboard struggling for composure, praying for sanity and I see that before you regain the equilibrium you seek, you rush back out to the cacophony because if you don’t, you fear that some tiny bodies may perish in the battle that constantly surrounds you.

I see you tentatively venture into the wider world, silently praying that you will not sink below the glassy sea while everyone is watching. You hold the little hand beside you tightly and every fibre of your being wills the life form that you have created to hold it together otherwise you could break. And while everything goes smoothly I know you feel like a hypocrite as people applaud you for being “such a good mum” when you know that any moment you are about to fall apart. And when the inevitable comes, the mother and child’s truce disintegrates and the battle with your small charge recommences, you swallow your pride as you struggle to control the writhing body as it convulses in a tantrum. You are once again absorbed in their world trying to decipher their needs and tame their wants, yet still aware of the averted gazes and silent disapproval as humankind passes you by.

To the Mother who feels that she is drowning.

You will not drown. Look up for a moment. There are life rafts you can get onto nearby. If it seems too far away to swim, take a moment and yell for help. There are people nearby ready to throw life buoys in your direction.

I know so often if feels like you are all alone because you are immersed in your personal pain. There are always those who want to swim beside you or help tug you to safety if you look. Just stop and look and you will find a compassionate friend, a counsellor, a person in a community group or local church. They are all around holding life jackets for you, ready to put it on you and keep you safe. Believe me mother, tread water for a little while, call for help and grasp the hand that extends towards you.

Get to that raft and breathe. Find that place of safety and work out a plan. Your survival depends on it. Recognise that surviving does not equal perfection. Not every dirty room will be clean and not every moment will be calm, but learn to be happy amidst the clamour of daily life. Be happy and confident even if you are surrounded by imperfection. As you sit on that raft, look ahead at the distance you have to swim. Don’t feel overwhelmed but notice that in the stretch ahead, there are life rafts dotted all over the place. When it’s time to get back in the water, you only need to swim to the next raft; the next mother’s group meeting, the next church service. Swim to the next mothers group meeting where you can breathe with other mother’s who are taking refuge, swim to the next church service where you will find motivation to continue the marathon, swim to the next family function where arms will wrap you in love, even when you don’t feel worthy.

I promise you, the land will appear on the horizon. Some day you will reach the shores of sanity. Your house will be gleaming, there will be no more public tantrums, your children will link arms and walk with you on that shore and you will sit and eat a luxurious meal uninterrupted in comfort. As you look back out at the ocean you will feel peace because you know that it was a long hard swim to get to this promised land, but it was worth every stroke. You will remember the treacherous seas and the pain of the journey and you will find a boat and and row back into the waters and throw life vests out to those who are still swimming.

We swim this thing called life together. The old and the young, the weak and the strong. No one needs to drown.

 

Do you feel like you might be drowning? What are your life rafts as you wade through the waters of motherhood?

Are you able to throw the life vests for people? How do you recommend mothers get to safety?

 

Today I’m linking with Essentially Jess’s fabulous IBOT. Check it out, find a life raft and read some blogs. It will do your heart good.

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22 Comments

  1. Wonderful post. I used to be the one drowning and needing so much help. Right now I am in a position where a couple of friends are drowning and I have to keep reminding them that I offer help and it is ok to be the one receiving right now. Both of these women find it very hard to accept help and even harder to ask. Wouldn’t it be great if we all accepted and embraced that we do not need to do it all ourselves and helping each other can be a sisterhood rather than a failure on our part for needing help xx

    1. Yes! It is so hard for us to put our hand out for help. We need to recognise that failure is not getting the help rather than taking it. I love it that you are reaching out to some friends. I’m sure they will blossom with your encouragement.

  2. Yep, I’ve definitely felt like I was drowning on more than one occasion. Some days are much worse than others! And then, on other days, I’m doing the rescuing. Lovely post, thanks 🙂

  3. I have felt this way on many occasions. We do get through it eventually, but at the time it seems as though we are alone. I hope you and everyone feeling this way right now, finds themselves safe and sound and able to ask for help xx

  4. Just a gorgeous blog post Caitlin … There have been many occasions over my 15yrs of parenting when I am drowning and your summary is so real

  5. Caitlin, I love everything about this and so many of your lines felt like you were speaking directly to me. I have felt like I’ve been drowning very recently. I have been searching for my life rafts and am grateful for them. Awesome post.

  6. What a great post Caitlin. I have days were I’m stuck drowning and days were I’m happy to be able to reach out and help someone who is drowning. Even though it’s a struggle, I love that I am in a little community of woman all struggling with this same stage of life. I know one day I’ll look back and realise that this time has slipped by and it’s all a bit easier but for now thanks for such encouragement x

  7. That’s such a lovely inspirational piece to help other Mums Caitlin. I love how you say that you can be happy and confident even surrounded by imperfection. We all need to be each other’s life rafts. And I don’t think we ever get to perfect, but that’s what makes life great.

  8. I feel like the drowning mother a lot. What I find helps is to take stock of the things I have done rather than the things I haven’t done. Often it’s easy to get caught up in everything that needs doing and forget that we are doing ok.

  9. Now, if there was a manual for when you have a baby, this should be in it! Thanks for the encouraging words.

  10. Sometimes the simplest life raft is to just ask someone if they’re ok. More often than not, I have found that we try to soldier on, not let anyone see how we’re struggling. But maybe if someone had taken the time to ask me if I was ok, I could be honest and let them know that sometimes, no I’m not. I love to pop a card in the mail for a friend, for no other reason than to just say hi and let them know I’m thinking of them. Snail mail is always lovely, especially if its not a bill!

  11. I can’t even tell you how this is me right now. This is such a well written piece – and it really shows me that others must be feeling the way I do, otherwise how else could you describe what I’m experiencing? Thanks xx

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