Initially, the focus of mamaTRUE was on parenting as a mindfulness practice: being with my son, showing up, living in the present moment without any big scripts running about who he should be, who I should be, or how we should do it. So I wrote about what we were doing that day, what we were practicing.
But I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t just parenting my son. I was parenting myself. Having a kid meant there was this person that relied on me to get his needs met. Who was supposed to meet my needs then? How was I going to muster the time or energy to take care of myself as I was parenting this little person?
Many moms I knew were struggling with the same thing. And having kids seemed to bring up all this stuff from our own childhoods–how we were parented, what we aspired to do, what needs of ours had been met (or not).
So I was writing about the journey of motherhood primarily. But at the end of 2009, I realized that I could trace myself falling into a depression, not just sadness or ennui, not mama burn-out, but a full-fledged depression, the kind where I considered running away from home or committing suicide, the kind I thought I was immune to now that I was a mom.
I am not immune.
It was wishful thinking that fooled me into thinking I might be. The feelings I started experiencing in 2009 were all-too-familiar. When I was fourteen, I began struggling with chronic depression and insomnia. When I was 29, the depression shifted toward anxiety. The anxiety grew to the point that I left my job on disability in 2006—a week before I found out I was pregnant. I’d had two miscarriages by then and was terrified that I would lose this baby too. I spent the duration of my pregnancy see-sawing between fear and hope.
Then Cavanaugh True was born. Though I still struggled with anxiety, I believed I could never again fall into the kind of debilitating depression or suicidal thinking I had experienced before. Actually, I was happier than I’d ever been–until I wasn’t.
I was tired of feeling more fragile than everybody else. I was tired of being broken. And I wanted my son to grow up with a happy mama. So I committed to making 2010 a year of self care. I planned on writing a post a day about how I was learning to be happy and take care of myself. Then my husband said he was having an affair and wanted a divorce.
What happened next surprised even me. Having my worst fears come true (being lied to, betrayed, divorced, in financial jeopardy, etc.) brought me squarely into right here, right now. All my anxiety about the future or rumination about the past was ghostlike compared to the present.
Even though my circumstances and mental state may sound extreme, I’ve found that other moms are working on the same things I am: balancing caring for children with their own self-care, dealing with the present moment, learning to trust themselves and their choices (especially since the experts’ opinions on everything from sleep to discipline contradict each other), feeling great during one development stage or age and feeling inept or challenged by another.
So, as I write about parenting, self care, divorce, spiritual practice, and whatever else comes up, through mamaTRUE I’ll share my efforts to live in the present as I parent both myself and my son.
I hope you’ll join me in looking at right here, right now, and learning how to accept it for exactly what it is.
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