Two weeks and four days into becoming a mother for the second time and I’ve had my first breakdown. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still better than I did my first go around. I had the whole domestic goddess routine all figured out. Floors were swept. Laundry was done AND put away. My phone stayed face-down. I even played mind-numbing games with my daughter and didn’t quite want to slam my face into the table.
The mass of changing postpartum hormones has actually done me some good.
My husband worked late all week and I was cool. I was looking forward to Saturday. Then, on Saturday, he started making breakfast and his work phone rang, and lo and behold, all my magical weekend plans went down the drain.
I played it cool, allowed the postpartum hormones to work their magic. My daughter and I baked some cookies. I got her to paint some clay hearts while I nursed the baby. I organized some crafts and redid my driftwood wreath during a span of downtime. Then my daughter got upset because I wouldn’t let her play with my craft butterflies. I gave her her actual toy butterfly. She said she didn’t like that it was sparkly. Then she said she liked sparkles. She wanted a sparkly butterfly.
I said: THAT IS A SPARKLY BUTTERFLY!
She went upstairs. I worked myself up getting angry about it. One of the cats decided to make a new bed in the baby’s car seat and that was the end of it. By the time my husband got home, I was rabidly vacuuming the kitchen floor. He asked what was wrong.
Surprise! I lost my shit. And then I cried. Like disgusting anxiety-induced breakdown cried. He gave me space because he already knows (for the most part) how to deal with me. He told me to have a damn nap. I did.
Because It Only Takes So Long Before You Crack
I think a lot about Betty Draper. I think of her most when I’m at home, alone, with my kid, or KIDS (plural!) now. Scenes of her always bristle through my still. There was that time when she famously said: “Only boring people are bored”. There was that time she locked Sally in the closet. Of course, there was that infamous “shooting the birds” scene.
But the scene that I remember most? It’s the one where she breaks the dining room chair into pieces because she’s trying to set up for an elaborate dinner and the chair won’t sit like the rest of the chairs.
I started watching Mad Men long before I was a mom, and shortly before I was even married. Of course, I couldn’t understand the complexities of her character. She was just a bad mom, a horrible woman. There are plenty of “In defence of Betty Draper” videos on YouTube, but honestly, I feel like the only way to really understand Betty Draper is to be a stay-at-home mom for a day.
Like, sure, it’s not the 50’s-60’s anymore, and sure, my husband isn’t a lying workaholic egotistical cheating POS, but in the three weeks since I brought my son home from the hospital, I’ve been noticing some of my changes.
I am becoming Betty Draper and there’s nothing I can do.
Because Millennial Life Holds No Punches
I’m a Millennial. The elder kind. The kind that knows shit now. My husband and I own a condo but if he ever loses his job we definitely would be screwed. He works too much. I had to work for 10+ years at the same job to sort of be able to sustain myself (and to some degree, my disastrous shopping habits). We’re doing pretty decent for being college dropouts. I’m often thankful that we dropped out before we amassed student loans.
I also think a lot about the fact that we live in Canada, where healthcare doesn’t ruin your life. My diabetes medication costs me like $400 a year after all the Medicare and workplace benefits come into play.
Like, this shit is stressful and on top of that I have to take monthly baby progress photos and make pretty cupcakes for events and take happy photos of my family at every event we go to. Then I go over the pictures and post only the best happy smiling ones to Instagram. Photos where my daughter’s persistent mullet isn’t obvious. Photos where I don’t think I look fat. Photos where my husband’s sunburn is somewhat covered with shade. I mean, let’s be honest: Instagram is like 80% of the problem. All those “mom influencers” with their nursery reveals and affiliates and sponsored content. Get out of here with your marble kitchen countertops.
For the record, I had to redo my garbage house-painted 70’s countertops with Rustoleum Countertop Transformations and 4+ years later they look pretty decent, despite the original process being a giant pain in the ass. (Totally honest review and not sponsored!)
And I know that the typical “mom outfit” these days is leggings and a Lululemon hoodie and a messy top bun, but my love of vintage style and Kate Middleton has never let up even after having kids. To be honest, having kids has actually exacerbated my problem with looking perfect 100% of the time. Like I still want that Kate Middleton blowout and I will get up at 6AM every Sunday to make sure I give myself time to achieve it.
Because if I don’t post it on Instagram, then I will never feel validated. Please post all the sad crying emojis for me because I could really use them.
Because You Can’t Live Up To Absurd Standards
My house isn’t spotless, but it’s got some decent corners that look Instagram-worthy. I can’t maintain everything in my house, but I do follow Marie Kondo’s folding methods to a T (they fucking work, people!). Half of my daughter’s toys are neatly organized into proper containers. The other half are thrown haphazardly in buckets behind the couch. I’ll make a mean cupcake and can whip up a GORG! batch of deviled eggs, but I have zero ambition to ever cook dinner.
I mean, this stuff is all surface, and I think most modern moms can be pretty blunt about their flaws. What bugs me is the joke about “mom juice”. Needing a glass at the end of the night is fine, but mothers abusing alcohol is actually becoming a problem and I think it’s worth recognizing that.
I also don’t like the commercials where moms are portrayed as stressed AF and it’s supposed to be cute. (They always have like perfect bathtubs too and it always makes me envious AF because my bathtub still has a 70’s tile backsplash and the caulking is peeling and moldy and needs some HELP.)
I mean, I like making jokes about how annoying my kid is just as much as the next mom, but this shit is actually real, and I think making jokes about it 100% of the time is doing all of us a disservice.
More than once this week I’ve had to explain to my husband that I have no idea how to handle my daughter right now, that I’m at my wit’s end, that I don’t know how to talk to her without her thinking I’m Betty Draper. Which, I guess, is sort of okay, the more I think about it. Like, we can all freely admit that Sally Draper (Betty’s daughter) was easily the second-best female character on the show after Peggy, right?
That’s why I like the idea of being more like Betty Draper. I mean, yes she was widely known for being a pretty horrible mom, but she was also a compelling character for those same reasons. And as the days pass and I end up in more stressful circumstances trying to balance myself between a newborn and a four-year-old, between managing my Type 1 diabetes and my healing cesarean scar, between my writing “career” and my need to allow myself a moment or two to breastfeed and bond with my son, I think it’s okay to have an ugly-cry breakdown. It’s okay to break a chair. It’s okay to rant to my husband about how stressed I am so long as I can work things out and it doesn’t exacerbate things.
Accept Your Faults
It’s not really okay to lock your kid in a closet, but I’d say that if you accidentally snap at your kid and have to go and apologize and ask for forgiveness (as I’m finding myself doing now on a perpetual basis), that it’s totally okay. And also probably good for your kid to see you as a legit real person.
Maybe that’s just me?
Just know that whenever I post a picture of myself dressed to the 9’s just to go to the dollar store for cupboard organizers that I also probably cried that day.