So, I grew out my leg hair (betcha didn’t see that one coming, huh?) And not just: “He he, my leg hair is so long” “Oh man, mine too. It’s starting to get all pokey, he he!”
Like, Mo saw my legs and said, “Mama! You’re the same as Daddy!”
We passed pokey and went straight to downy soft.
I do, indeed, have photos. But out of respect for my husband, father, father-in-law, brother-in-law and all my other male readers I will not post them here (Ladies, if you’ve ever wondered what your leg hair would look like at 7 months old, just let me know and I’ll send you the jpg…or maybe it just grosses you out too? Hmm…I know. I’m weird).
I could make up an excuse about how I did it to make a statement: Our society is too obsessed with prepubescence! Social norms be darned!
I did, in fact, tell some people I was doing it as sort of an experiment. My science-y brain is always concocting strange theories and hypothesis.
And heck, why not? I could always shave it whenever I wanted to.
The truth is something different.
The truth is, I was lazy. And then, I was sad.
Baby blues is one of those postpartum things that everyone warns you about, but nobody talks about.
So I’m going to talk about it.
Don’t worry! they say, it’s OK to be sad. It’s alright, they say, if you need to cry.
But, Be careful, they also say, if you start losing interest in the things you enjoy. Watch out, they say, if you’re feeling lonely or depressed or tired.
But when does feeling lonely lead to crying? And when does being sad affect your interest in things you enjoy? Where is the line? How will I know?
Don’t worry, they say. Give it time. You’ll be alright.
But I wasn’t alright. I was sad. Life was hard. I’ve heard from many women that going from one to two babies can be more difficult than zero to one. The first is a life-changer, don’t get me wrong. But the logistics of more-than-one is mind boggling. Different naps, different diapers, different food, different needs.
Where’s the snuggling on the couch all afternoon with a milk-drunk baby that I so fondly remember? Oh, the older one is running with scissors? I should probably put the baby down. Sorry baby, next time. Probably, never time.
So, I was sad. Showers were spent with my head against the wall, tears streaming down my face, water pouring down my back. Don’t even look my way razor. I can barely muster the energy to wash my hair.
Everything I read said, don’t worry! In a couple months your hormones will self-regulate. You’ll start to feel more like yourself. But if things get too bad, consult a physician.
Too bad? What does that mean. I certainly never felt like hurting myself. Never felt like hurting my babies. But I also didn’t feel well. Didn’t feel like me.
I tried to do things I thought I enjoyed! Insert quarter-life crisis.
“Andy! I don’t even know what I like doing! I don’t even have any hobbies. I don’t know what I’m doing with my life! This was not my plan! Wahhhh!”
Oh Andy, wonderful Andy. He may not always have the words, but he certainly always has the hugs.
I was crying in front of the girls one day, and Mo reached over, cupped my face with her little hand and said “It’s OK to be sad, Mama. It’s OK”. Then she hugged me, and I cried harder.
You must have soaked that phrase up from somewhere. I hope it was me or your daddy. I hugged you so tight and knew then and there that it was ok to cry. That, more importantly, that I would be ok. You see, you give back now. You love me back. You console me back. It’s crystal clear to me that I’m finally on both ends of the “give and take” of parenthood, not just the give. Thanks Little One.
I wish I could say life was all cartoon song birds and sunshine from that moment. It wasn’t. There was still a lot of lethargy, sadness, loneliness and a whole lotta’ feeling crazy and buried. Kind of like being submerged in pudding, but a whole lot less tasty.
But that moment with Mo gave me the nudge to start digging out, a little bit at a time. And so did you. Every smile, phone call, email, comment, walk, hug, prayer… pretty much any interaction, helped to wake me up and dig me out of myself. I started doing things I liked again, photography, music. I put on my big-girl panties and took responsibility for the cleanliness of my home. I started hosting girls’ night, laughing, drinking, smiling and serving. I planned our garden, and sat in the Sunshine.
There is not a specific day I woke up and decided I was back. That I was happy. I just know I am now. I’m not buried any more.
There was a day, however, that I decided enough was enough.
“Honey, would you snag me a razor?” I yelled from the shower while humming a happy tune.
Perhaps the most romantic and Caitlin-like seven words he had heard in a long time…
A couple not so serious long-leg-hair side notes:
-I actually had to use a beard trimmer first.
-Wearing long socks was super uncomfortable, like having a random hair plucked with every movement. Men in my life: how did I not know this already?
-As a tween, I was told the more I shaved the darker leg hair would get. True! After I shaved, it grew back thin and sparse! Who knew?
-The only place I could do this is Portland. I didn’t have to wear shorts for 7 months. And even when I did, no one thought I was strange.
-My husband is a Living Saint. Pretty dang sure. Thanks for putting up with the crazy, my Love.
And a note to all my other sad mamas out there:
It’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to not know what the heck you’re doing, or what’s for dinner, or remember the last time you showered. You are emptying yourself for love of another. When your well is dry, fill yourself up. Don’t expect that water source to be your baby, because she’s the bucket. Sit in the sun. Exercise. Stay up late laughing at cat videos. Put the baby down, insert ear plugs and just breathe.
I was there too. I was lost and frustrated by platitudes. Now I join my voice with all of “them” when I say: You will be happy again. It may take months, but one day you’ll realize you’re smiling at your babies instead of dreading what comes next. You will have dug out enough to emerge as a changed being: a happy Mama.
And even when you’re happy again, it’s still OK to be sad.
Love you. Yes, you.