Mothers around the world are thanking Serena Williams for her candor after she revealed she's been going through a hard time in an honest note posted to Instagram.
Williams has had a lot going on recently. Her daughter Alexis Olympia isn't yet a year old, and Williams has already returned to tennis under an intense level of scrutiny. Her loss at Wimbledon last month was difficult, of course, but even in losing Williams encouraged other mothers—and now she's done it again. After withdrawing from the Rogers Cup earlier this week, citing 'personal reasons', Williams got personal with her Instagram followers.
"Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom," she captioned an Instagram pic of her silhouette against a setting sun.
"I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal," she wrote.
Williams is absolutely right. A 2014 review of clinical studies published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry found that when women don't get help, 30% of those suffering from postpartum depression are still depressed up to 3 years after giving birth.
When we acknowledge what's going on and talk about how we're feeling, we get better faster.
For Williams, that means talking about something that so many mothers feel: mom guilt. "We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I'm trying to be the best athlete I can be," she writes. "However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I'm not around as much as I would like to be."
Williams is hardly alone in feeling this way. According to a 2013 survey of 2,000 moms by NUK, 87% of mothers feel guilty at some point, with 21% unfortunately reporting feeling this way most or all of the time. NUK's surveyors also found 69% of moms feel guilt over the ratio of their work-life balance, and 40% worry they're not devoting enough time to their children.
A later survey by Fisher Price suggests American moms are particularly vulnerable to feeling this way, and "seem to feel more pressure than moms in the other countries surveyed based on a higher level of agreement with statements reflecting parental confidence." In that survey, 42% of U.S. moms polled felt that "properly caring for baby while taking care of myself and my responsibilities is a big challenge."
Williams has a lot of company on this issue.
This isn't the first time Williams has addressed such feelings on social media. When Olympia took her first steps earlier this summer, her mom was at work. When Williams tweeted about the episode, many working parents could empathize.
This week, Williams is the one doing the empathizing. She knows she's not the only parent working through these feelings, as she noted in her Instagram post. "Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art," she writes. "You are the true heroes."
And so is Williams for reminding us all that we're not alone. 💞