Invisibility in Motherhood: Thoughts and Goals

So a few weeks ago I was a guest on the BHooked Podcast.
And it was t e r r i f y i n g.

Haha. I know, I know. Sounds a little dramatic, right?
Well, honestly? It was dramatic. For me..
I was a nervous wreck in the 24 hours leading up to the interview.
Like: running to the bathroom, fight-or-flight, kind of nervous wreck.

But, let’s rewind: here’s what happened:
So, here I am, on a Wednesday evening, the night before my interview.
I’m wrapping up my SAHM-day, prepping dinner and powering through those twighlight hours of dwindling caffiene.
Feeling excited that my husband, Jacob, was on his way home from work.

And I received an email from the BHooked podcast host, Brittany!
I was expecting a series of questions about my role as Creative Director of FibreShare.
After all, she had invited me (and my business partner Ashley!) to be guests on her crochet podcast, to discuss our yarn community!
Piece of cake, right?!

Yeah well, when I opened her email I saw
A LIST OF QUESTIONS ABOUT SWIFT AND BLOOM.
And not just like, regular, fluff questions.
Like: HARD QUESTIONS.

I remember just staring in shock at the glaring, low-battery-laptop, reading and re-reading:

  • What does community mean for you and your craft?

What kind of hard-ass question is that?!
I felt like I had walked into a pop quiz! About my life!
And I only had 24 hours to figure out the answers!

So my night quickly devolved into:
shivering,
goosebumping,
talking-real-fast, and wondering:
what the hell I had signed myself up for…
Ten-thirty-PM-tears
spilling all around me on our lumpy red couch.
Page after page of “practice” answers
filling up my moleskine journal….
I was panic-practicing til midnight:
JUST trying to figure out how to introduce myself,
let alone answer a question about community!

I remember sitting on the front porch with Jacob,
darkness cloaking us in a cocoon of mosquitoes and distant dog-barking,
bare feet flickering in the shadow of my anxious knees, bouncing.
Listening in horror,
as my extremely-patient Husband gave me example after eloquent example
of how he would describe me.

How the f * c k could he do it so WELL?!
I wasn’t sure whether to love him or hate him in that moment!

And after about 15 failed attempts to mimic his examples,
I was desperately hoping there was a way we could cyrano-de-bergerac this sh*t.

FYI: my husband is a marketing whiz, and he can market anyone like it’s his job.
(In fact, it is his job. Haha. He’s really talented.)

But, I’m digressing.
Basically… It was just… not pretty. And I wanted to be honest about that.

Because if you listen to the podcast,
(and I encourage you to do so!!)
you’ll hear that it all worked out brilliantly.
There will be no hint of nervousness.
I introduce myself like a champ, and end up having some genuinely awesome conversations with Brittany!!

Yep: It all worked out FINE.
I’m serious! I was a badass! I did it! I feel like I leveled up!!

In fact, I think I’ll look back on this podcast as a truly pivotal moment in my personal growth journey.
I feel stronger, more confident, more aware of my impact on others…

BHooked Podcast Self Care for Makers

I am SO GRATEFUL for this (terrifying) experience, LOL!
(Thank you Brittany, for giving me this opportunity, and for asking me challeng questions!)

But….
The hardest part was figuring out how the hell to introduce myself.
And that’s what I actually want to talk about today.


Invisibility in Motherhood: Thoughts and Goals


When I was practicing my podcast introduction with Jacob, he said something that really stuck with me:
“Just imagine you’re introducing yourself to someone at a bar. What do you tell them about yourself?”

And I said… “I don’t know, because I don’t talk about myself. I ask other people about THEM, or… I talk about Violet.”

And I’m sure a lot of you relate to that, right?
Especially if you’re a Mom.

Being a Mom is socially the BEST and the WORST.
Because you ALWAYS have something to talk about.
Getting a haircut? Swap stories about toddler shenanigans.
Checking out at Target? Laugh over an anecdote about the cashier’s grandkids, who also wear Pampers.
Bump into your neighbors? Smile and nod and say “Yes, she’s growing so fast!”

But the thing is: you never talk about yourself anymore.
Socially, it so easy to become a shell of your former self. You’re so focused on your child, that naturally you only talk about your child!
And it feels SO GOOD to have readily available small talk!
But after a while… it gets lonely.

And what I realized is… it starts before you even give birth:


Phase One: Pregnancy

Once you’re pregnant, the bump takes center stage. That’s just a fact.
I remember during pregnancy, I felt SO on display.
Everywhere I went, and even in solitude, life was about the bump.

My parents were so excited to be Grandparents(naturally!) that the whole pregnancy revolved around the bump.
My Dad would deliver flowers to me every few weeks! It was adorable!! But, they were for “the baby.”
With notes addressed to the baby. And it was really hard to articulate that I felt…. jealous.
Who the heck feels jealous of their own baby? I was so confused and angry at myself.

My Mom purchased a whole new nursery for her house! It was so sweet that she wanted to welcome my daughter!! But, I was struggling to afford furniture for our own nursery. And it was embarrassing to tell her that I felt… left out.

When I would see my friends, I didn’t really know how to talk about anything other than the baby.
Even though I was struggling. A lot. I was SO sick. And I was so worried that my misery was a sign…
that I just wasn’t cut out for Motherhood…
I was just obsessed with trying to present a positive front. To “fake it til I could make it”…

Even me: I was so hyperfocused on the baby that I didn’t know how to pause, and think fondly of myself!
I was so sick and scared during pregnancy.
I wish I had the wisdom then, to look at myself from the big picture…. to watch my narrative unfold… to feel empathy for myself… to delight in what a cute little Mom I was becoming!
But I was so busy trying to shove down my feelings and be a “positive, glowing, pregnant-person” …I didn’t enjoy the phase at all.

I felt invisible.
Like I was in a holding pattern for 9 months,
waiting for my real life to launch.


Phase Two: Freedom!!!

But then, Violet was born! She was BORN! And I was so relieved to not be a pregnant-woman anymore!!!
I vividly remember walking into Kroger alone, just a couple weeks postpartum,
and thinking: literally no one is noticing me right now!!! I’m just a random millennial in leggings and a top knot!!! I’M FREE!!!

But like, honestly? It was also weird, because I remember thinking, finally… I can be the way I feelinvisible.

How sad is that? How strange is that? Even now, it’s hard for me to think about those feelings. And I wonder if they’re truly “normal.”


Phase Three: Everyone likes my baby more than me.

So I don’t want to go on and on about the negative growing pains of this stage, because I am a VERY emotional person, and I worry A LOT about being perceived as negative. (And quite frankly, this is a really awkward phase to discuss.)

So what I’ll just say is… being a new parent of a newborn is such a tender time. You’re growing parallel to your child in leaps and bounds. You’re full of hormones, you’re exhausted, you’re wondering if everything you’re feeling is normal. And despite the fact that everyone wants to come visit and celebrate with you… they’re not really celebrating WITH you, you know? They’re just excited about holding the baby.

Relatives come out of the woodworks. To see the baby.
Long lost friends want to stop by. To see the baby.
That first visit in the hospital. It’s not about “how are you after being ripped in half?” It’s: ZOOM – LET ME HOLD THAT BABY!!!
Everyone is swept up in the excitement of a new life.
And for me… it was just overwhelming. I was soooo proud of Violet! I was so excited to be her Mom!!! I did – truly did – want to show her off to everyone!!!
But it was so hard to adjust to things like… never being greeted anymore.

And I feel like I’m being super bratty, but you know what? It took over a year for my family to remember to greet me again.
I vividly remember, my Dad went through a phase where he literally couldn’t take his eyes off Violet.
The whole visit.
Like, I would talk to him and not be sure he could hear me.
My parents called it being “twitterpated” …like in Bambi.


And it drove me crazy.
And the fact that it drove me crazy, drove me crazy.
And the fact that I’m even saying this now… drives me crazy!

I don’t want to say anything that will hurt my parents! They are so kind and loving and they try SO hard to be the parents that I need them to be. But this phase?

It SUCKED.

I remember talking to a friend about all this. And he had recently become an Uncle.
And he said…. Oh, yeah I know exactly what you’re talking about.
I call it GRANDPARENT BRAIN.”

LOL! I cannot tell you how releived I was to hear him joke! That this happens! And that it will get better!
And it did.
After about a year, the novelty “twitterpated” phase started to wear off, and they remember to do things like hug me when we walk in the door.

And Mom and Dad, I know you’re gonna read this, because you’re great parents who actually care about your daughter’s little blog.
Please. PLEASE know that I love you, and I’m simply sharing all this to help other Moms who are going through…. Grandparent Brain. 😀


Phase 4: New Normal, Old Hat

Now, I can feel I’m entering a new phase. And it’s a weird one.
I feel like… I’m finally getting the hang of this Motherhood thing. And my daughter is a toddler, and life is good! And ….I’m becoming old news.

You know, being a new Mom… it’s exciting. It’s a hurricane of personal growth and transitions. Slam – boom – bam. BABY!
But when you start to get the hang of things,
when you find your new normal, it gets tedious sometimes.
Spending long days at home with your baby can easily feel like you’re living a life behind-the-scenes.
And what makes it weirder is: the transition OUT of the “new mom phase” also means a transition TO a …”old mom phase?”
Wow, folks, just when you thought it couldn’t get any more nebulous: we have… a new type of invisible!!!!

Sometimes I feel like I’m on the precipice of a new milestone in my “motherhood development”
Like I’m shedding the skin of my “new Mom phase.” And finding this new confidence feels GREAT, but.. it’s also a little scary. Because I’m moving on now. It’s a catch 22. It’s complicated.


All these emotions… Man, I hate thinking about them so much.
I feel SO egotistical and guilty when I overanalyze these things.
I feel insecure sharing them with you now!
But if there’s anything that Swift and Bloom has taught me, it’s that being intensely vulnerable not only helps others, it helps me find more confidence and courage to be a better Woman and Mother.

SO, here I am, pouring my guts out once again on the blog.
And thankfully, I do have some goals and ideas to wrap alllllll this up 😀


What I Learned and How To Make Things Better

1. Remember to View Myself as More Than a Mom

This one sounds obvious, but I struggle with how to even label myself. I don’t like to use the term “Work at Home Mom” because it makes me feel like my priorities are split. The truth is, in my heart, I am a Stay at Home Mom. But in practice, I work like crazy! I co-run FibreShare, I have this blog, I do freelance graphic design, I knit and bake and homake, oh AND… I’m a Mom. 24-7.

So… it’s just become easier to just introduce myself as: “Oh, I’m just a SAHM.” And leave all the other facets of myself unsaid. But.. I’m gonna work on this. I suspect it’d help a LOT to even say, “I’m an artist, and I stay at home with my daughter.” …We’ll see how it goes.

2. Remember to View Other Women as More Than a Mom

Sometimes I catch myself having “invisibile” small talk with a pregnant woman or another mom, because it’s just so easy to chat about kids. But I’m going to make an effort to think about what kinds of questions I ask other women. I would really like to be more genuine and personal, a good active listener. I’d like to help give other women the opportunity to shine, outside of their Motherhood roles, even in small talk!

3. Practice Talking About Myself, Too

It doesn’t feel natural to me to tell people about my achievements or what I’m doing in life. And it definitely perpetuates my overall feeling of invisibility.  So I’m going to work on it! When someone asks how I’ve been, I’m going to try to answer with a concrete, positive thing that is happening. Like: I’ve been drawing some really cool stuff lately! Or, I’m blogging a lot and it’s been transformational!

4. Someday, Remember to Focus on Violet, If She’s a Mom

If nothing else, I hope that if Violet becomes a Mom, I’ll remember to focus on her.  I’ll try like hell to not make her feel invisible! I’ll remind her that she is MY baby, my most cherished one! And hopefully I won’t completely succumb to “Grandparent Brain!” (Even though it’ll be hard, because I’m sure her baby would be the cutest thing on this green Earth.) 😀


If you’ve made it through this book-length blog post, THANK YOU for listening!
I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and kindness since I started blogging.
And I hope this post will find at least one young Mom who feels alllll these things I’ve felt.
So I can wrap her in a hug and say: “You’re normal. (I think, LOL.) And everything is gonna be OK.”

Until next time,
xx, Beth

 

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  • I was almost afraid to read this for fear of sobbing. I can’t count the times I have repeatedly said to my girls that I feel invisible. I didn’t have the same experience with this as you did when they were little. But I sure do now. With all the joys of SAHM stuff, it seems like when I need something or don’t feel good etc. it’s such a shock to the family dynamic it’s like OH RIGHT-MOM IS A HUMAN TOO. It’s weird and I really don’t know how to articulate this feeling. All I do know is I say it a lot-I FEEL INVISIBLE. It may have something to do with almost being 60 too. Old people really are treated like they’re not there.
    xoxoxoxo

    • Oh my goodness, I wish I could give you a hug! If it’s any consolation, you’re not invisible to me. I’ve felt so encouraged by you this year, and am glad to know you. I hope 2019 is kind to you!! Keep advocating for yourself!! xx, Beth