Menu

Going to therapy saved my motherhood

I was treading water with my head above the surface because typically it's fine as long as it's fine... until one day it's not.

Going to therapy saved my motherhood

There are days I wake up so happy I can feel it in my bones. But on other days I wake up feeling out of sorts, like someone trying to find a light switch in a darkened room.

A year ago, I decided to seek help from a therapist. I never thought about therapy before. I never thought I needed it. I had feelings buried deep inside me at the pit of my core for years that I never talked about, but that's where they lived, and I was okay with that—or so I thought.

Then I became a mother. And my heart cracked open, and a whole flood of emotions and new layers presented themselves.

When my second son was born, I was depressed, anxious—I was falling apart at the seams. Up until that point, I was treading water with my head above the surface because typically it's fine as long as it's fine... until one day it's not.

My therapist was gentle. She guided me. She taught me how to live with my realities and how to work through problems in my life. She helped peel back those layers to reveal why I was feeling what I was feeling and how I could deal with it on a daily basis—and that has saved me.

I had to stop listening to the negative voice inside my head.

We all have that inner voice inside of our heads that makes us question every move we make. That voice creates doubt and insecurity that gets in the way of how we live our lives and it can make you feel like a failure as a mom.

Your house is a complete disaster, fail.

Your baby isn't sleeping through the night yet, fail.

You yelled at your toddler for accidentally spilling milk on the kitchen floor, fail.

All these little moments stack up, and in return you blame yourself. You criticize your mom abilities and from there it snowballs.

But instead of turning those destructive thoughts inward, I practice mothering with a purpose now. I've learned to allow my challenges to serve as lessons—to help me parent with patience, strength and kindness.

I take a breather and walk to the other room, I count to 10 in my head, I journal my thoughts—anything to transfer that energy elsewhere. And when my mind starts to shift, I remind myself that I'm more powerful and that I'm in control of my thoughts.

I had to learn that the other voice reflected my true self.

This is the voice that counters the negative. This voice speaks the truth when I have an opinion and makes the decision when I'm being indecisive. It's my gut feeling and first instinct. It's also the voice I used to question most.

As a mother who struggles with depression and anxiety, I often overthink problems and carry around a guilty conscience— even days after making a mistake. My therapist helped me discover what my triggers are and how my voice can help me through it.

I've learned to be willing to explore things in my past in order to identify how they've affected me today. By strengthening this voice, I've been able to connect with my authentic self and become more mindful of my thoughts, fears, and truths.

Instead of second-guessing this voice, I listen to it now.

I had to learn that my feelings are valid, too.

My therapist doesn't like labels, but she often refers to me as being a protective people-pleaser. I tend to drift through life protecting my loved ones with a shield tied to my arm. I think that's part of the innate nature of a mother though, to take away the worries from her family. To pile the pain. To stack the struggles.

There are days—weeks even—when I feel like I'm taking on water. When I feel like I need to set down the bucket and just float there for a little while. Eventually, the weight becomes unbearable to carry and I've learned that it's okay to empty that bucket.

It's okay to confess that I'm struggling.

It's okay that I'm having a bad day, and it's okay to admit that motherhood is hard. My feelings matter, too.

I remind myself that it is the sum of the days, not just today, that shape my children.

I had to learn the healing power of self-forgiveness.

This was difficult for me.

I was unfairly blaming myself for something I was not responsible for. I was ashamed and I often interrogated myself about things that were all stemming from childhood trauma. Why did this happen to me? Why didn't I say anything? And like other survivors of trauma, I found myself stuck along the way toward healing—in a place where shame and guilt seemed to be blocking the path to happiness and recovery.

Even years later, those feelings crept into motherhood. Talking through these problems with my therapist helped me understand that what I experienced was not my fault. I learned that I needed to show myself compassion and empathy. Self-blame and shame can be toxic, and self-compassion has been the antidote.

I had to learn to be true to myself.

This means putting yourself first sometimes, which has always been tough for me, but it's even harder now that I'm a mother.

This means being completely honest with your thoughts, feelings, and values regardless what others might think of you. This means communicating those feelings wholeheartedly to others, allowing you to be your natural self.

If something is bothering you, speak. It means not allowing others to define you, sway you, or make decisions for you. It means being open-minded and sincere with your intimate thoughts and beliefs. It means standing up for yourself and standing down to no one.

Oftentimes there is a misconception that therapy is for those with bigger problems than our own. While others suffer from much greater issues, ones that require prescription medication or hospitalization, anyone can certainly benefit from talk therapy. Therapy can be painful, uncomfortable, overwhelming and exhausting—but it can also be a lifeline. I know it was for me.

You might also like:

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

Keep reading Show less
Life