You know what’s nice about postpartum depression? Well, nothing, really. But it does have one small redeeming quality: Unlike almost any other problem you’ll encounter in your spit-up covered parenting journey—or in life, for that matter—you really can take a pill and make it better.
Once the hormone brain fog cleared, however, I found that I had a much more bitter pill to swallow; one of those humbling ‘self-discovery’ kinds that required a lot more work than downing an antidepressant and booking a babysitter.
Motherhood, my friends, turned me into one nasty motha-youknowwhat.
Drowning in the overwhelming job of life-support apparatus/laundress/human pillow for another human, I transformed into a pot of bitterness set to a constant low simmer. To friends, I was still my funny, kind self, just a bit more exhausted. It was my husband who made me steam.
Floating somewhere in the ether of the Interwebs have to be some memes of women screaming at their partners while in the midst of labor pains. Being an overachiever, I managed to protract that resentment for over two years following the actual delivery of our son. After a decade-plus of (mostly) happy coupledom, I withered into someone who made snide comments to friends and malice-laced quips at dinner parties about the father of my son. Surely if I made enough clipped comments and exasperated sighs, my partner would see I was winning at being a mom, he was slacking at being a dad, and my way was the right way to manage parenting our kid.
Unsurprisingly, our partnership didn’t thrive in the midst of this. Things finally reached a head when I realized I was not only undermining my marriage, but hurting my best friend.
It wasn’t some lightbulb moment where I found him sobbing or anything like that. I was folding laundry, full blown internal monologue choir chanting about how hard it was to be the house-spouse and work and be the default parent. And then, mid-towel-fold, a radical thought hit me: It doesn’t have to be this way.
My partner was busting his ass at his new role of “parent,” just like me. But unlike me, he was being a happy warrior and still managing to try to make me smile every now and then.
I walked up to the study where my husband was trying to catch some sleep and crawled into bed with him. Not three minutes earlier I had been stewing on all the ways it wasn’t fair that he was resting (so he could commute two hours so we could, you know, pay for the new kid and all). Snuggling into him, I let myself remember that I love the feel of him, that I love him. I breathed and pulled him closer. The resentment lifted, and a feeling of deep gratitude settled over me.
Remembering I actually like the man I spawned with hasn’t solved all of our parenting challenges. At least once a week I find myself ready to fly off the handle. It’s in those moments that I try to remember that I am so, so lucky to have found a partner I love, and that we have a kid we both cherish. I take a second to remind myself, then I breathe deeply and hold them even closer.