The other day, I was posting on Instagram. I don’t put pictures of my son on Facebook, Instagram or the internets in general to protect his privacy. But I took a picture of his toys and used the hashtag: #damnilovethatkid.
It’s a funny thing, that hashtag. It seems like such a simple phrase that any parent would utter. “Damn, I love that kid”. But as I’ve written about before, love was a hard fought battle for me. My detachment from postpartum depression was the cloud that invaded my every being.
I remember the handful of times that I would drop my son off at daycare and he would wrap his arms around my legs and bury his face. I remember the handful of times that I would pick him up and he would come running to me in joyous rapture. Those moments were precious to me. They were moments that I actually was able to truly believe that he actually loved me and knew who I was.
Those are the problems of the detached mama.
Doubt that her child loves her because she couldn’t love her child enough when they were born…because of the postpartum depression. Doubt that her child would be forever scarred from those first 6 – 12 months. Constant frustration that she isn’t having the same experience that everyone else is; she’s supposed to feel this unconditional love that’s stronger than anything anyone has ever known. She’s not supposed to feel an inability to enjoy and appreciate her child.
So the detached mama gets help. She recognizes that things aren’t normal. She gets her medication, she goes to therapy. She gets better. She feels like herself again. But still, the love hasn’t come. Having her child feels like a warm affection, but it still doesn’t match the awe and majesty of the love that other ‘normal’ mamas describe.
Her life is a continual long sigh. She feels stuck. She feels like she’ll never love her child the way she’s supposed to. She feels like she’s defective; that somehow something got broken when she was created. She puts on a brave face, but wonders if her child knows of her struggles.
So she marches on, with a smile on her face. She nods when people talk about the glory, the beauty, the sheer awesomeness of having children. She connects with them when they talk about how hard it is, but that common ground slowly dissipates when they go back to talking about how amazing parenting is. She tells herself that she’s just not cut out of this parenthood stuff.
She’s confused. The medication’s working, she feels better, she’s been able to make her life what it used to be. But she’s still…’abnormal’.
But then over time, the switch goes off.
The baby is no longer a baby. The baby is a toddler. The toddler has personality and giggles. The toddler says “no”, “thank you” and “oh shit” (oops). The toddler runs around like a tiny T-rex and dances in the sunshine.
Those warm feelings of majesty and sheer awesomeness and beauty finally hit her like a ton of bricks. The struggles and the doubt have been forced out and she can finally say, “It’s so hard, but yes…it’s so rewarding” and truly mean it.
If you’re struggling with detachment, hold on to hope. Be patient with your treatment. Attachment takes time and there’s nothing wrong with you if you need some extra time to get there. Don’t expect an immediate spark once you start to feel recovered from the depression. Be kind to yourself.