FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY FREE
I met my husband when I was 27. Marriage and kids was a lifestyle that wasn’t on my radar – a concept I reserved for other people. I traveled. I dated. I had no fear and moved on a dime to a new location whenever I felt the urge, happily leaving behind my latest boyfriend. I took a break from my two year stint in the Virgin Islands to visit my best friend in Breckenridge to live and work during the ski season – it was there that my life changed forever.
LOVE, MARRIAGE…AND KIDS
Joe and I got engaged in the Caribbean, married in Mexico and honeymooned in Fiji. Life couldn’t be better. We waited three years before trying to start a family and continued building our life together. Then it happened…I had 3 kids in 4 years.
I felt like I was underwater. Not the kind where you can see the surface and you just need to kick a little bit to get there. I’m talking the darkness of the ocean – where you know the surface is there somewhere but access to it will take some time and a whole lot of effort. I felt isolated and alone with the three perfect, healthy, beautiful kids I had created and was now constantly caring for. Joe was busy building his business and continuing to live the life he was accustomed to, supporting our family and trying to support me in my new role as a mom…but I never really let him in.
LOSING MY VOICE, LOSING MYSELF
Through these years, I lost my voice. I was so overwhelmed with what was in front of me minute to minute, day to day, sleepless night to sleepless night, that I completely lost touch with the free-spirited, fun-loving girl I used to know. What “should” have been a time in my life full of laughter, lullabies and magical moments instead felt like a cage I had slowly built around me.
I have always had enough self-awareness to know when I wasn’t in a good place and the steps I needed to take to get out of it. I had a great support system of friends and family, minored in psychology so knew the signs and had been studying personal development since my late teenage years but I knew this was different. Before, if I was in a funk or needed to step up my game, I could call a friend to workout, meet up for happy hour or sit alone and journal my feelings which had been a constant outlet most of my life. But now, there was nowhere to go.
ISOLATION, GUILT, SHAME
I didn’t have five minutes to sit alone and journal…at least that was my perception. I had so many kids that the friends who offered to help, I couldn’t possibly burden with a 4.5 year old, 3 year old and newborn for any amount of time. At the time, it even seemed ridiculous to hire a sitter to watch them all – who would be up for this? I didn’t know how to ask for help because I thought I needed to be able to handle this on my own. I would think to myself, what about the mom who has 13 kids or the ones with a really sick kid or those who struggled to have kids and longed for what I had? Why couldn’t I handle what I created? Guilt and the shame of being inadequate crept in and I cried in my closet more times than I can count.
COMING UP FOR AIR – HINDSIGHT
My kids are now 12, 11 and 8 and I now know that part of my struggle was just the chaos of having three little kids – the messiness and craziness of life with little ones. The sleepless nights, the worry over am I doing this right, the isolation of nap times and schedules. But a BIG part of it was NOT asking for help. Not being vulnerable with my closest people. For believing that this huge shift that we move towards when we enter Parenthood is something that we should innately know how to handle. It was such a sharp contrast to the life I knew before that I didn’t recognize myself and failed to recognize that these moments were fleeting. That soon, my oldest would go to kindergarten and then the next one and the next and soon my life would resemble some kind of order and I would start to recognize the face in the mirror.
I SHOWED UP
Just to clarify, I love my kids fiercely and did back in those days just as much. They never went uncared for or felt unloved, regardless of how I was feeling. I showed up every day and every sleepless night. Being a mom is one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given and I would never change the path that got me to the mom I am today. I’m stronger because of it. I know how to ask for help when I need it and work every day to show up better than I did the day before.
WHY I’M SHARING…
I wanted to share this because I know that the world we live in can be misleading. Behind some of those smiles of moms on social media, beaming down at their little ones…there is pain. If we can share in that pain or shame or guilt, we can release it and be present for the joys that are in front of us day to day, sleepless night to sleepless night.
SMILE, REACH OUT, BE KIND
Smile at that mom with the tantrum throwing kid in Target. Reach out to that new mom that you met at your neighbor’s house. Be kind and support other women because we all are struggling in different areas of our lives. Motherhood is hard…and it’s amazing…and if we share in our struggles we will feel less alone in the journey.
-Kim Hicks, Denver, CO
MORE ABOUT STORIES
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