21 Ways to Enjoy Being a Mom
Find out how to be a good mom
Nudie scarf dancing. That sounds provocative, sexy, even NC-17, right? Well... not exactly. Let me explain.
I was sitting on the beach with my friend Isobel. Now, lounging next to this skinny blond mother of five could make anyone feel depressed by comparison. But I've known her since high school and I needed advice. It was hard to admit, but I was going through postpartum depression. I couldn't stop crying, and I alternated between being barely able to cope with the daily responsibilities of motherhood, and mind-numbing confusion. I was stumped. What did I have to be sad about? Seventeen months after giving birth to my son, Chase, God had blessed me with my daughter, Mackenzie. Instant family, my dream come true. Still, I felt as if I were sinking into toxic black ink.
My dirty secret was this: I just didn't see what was so great about motherhood. My days felt like a marathon disaster movie, starring me racing around after my kamikaze toddler to prevent him from hurling himself from high places and/or gleefully electrocuting himself. My nights were a study in sleep deprivation, with Mackenzie waking up every two hours and screaming from acid reflux.
I told Isobel about my plight, and she began sharing some of the wonderful ways she whiles away the hours with her brood: family karaoke, eating cookie batter together, firefly-catching contests. I was years away from all of this, but I scribbled the ideas down anyway. Then she mentioned nudie scarf dancing.
I glanced down at my stretched-out stomach, which was lying next to me like an affectionate pet. Surely, she couldn't be suggesting...
The tears welled up in my eyes. There was just no way I was up for this, no matter how fun it was.
"Not you, silly!" she said, laughing so hard she was snorting. "Daughters! Don't you have a box of ugly scarves from the '80s? Put on music to kill time with little girls before their bath!"
Before I knew it, I started laughing, too - at Isobel's snorting, at myself, and at the thought of the now-undulating pet attached to my midsection with a paisley scarf wrapped around it. I laughed until I was crying, a condition that Dolly Parton has called her favorite emotion.
Then it hit me: Fun was going to show me the way out of my drowning pit. The problem wasn't that I was exhausted or scared, because motherhood comes with all of that. The issue was that I wasn't having any fun to offset the exorbitant emotional cost.
So I sent out an SOS e-mail to my other friends seeking advice and ideas for how to enjoy this roller-coaster ride called motherhood. The flurry of answers came back fast and furious, from the funny and dark - "Report yourself to Child Protective Services and have your children taken away for a day or two. Instant vacation!!" wrote Krisha Mahoney, a Boston mother of two - to the practical:
"Plan a playdate with other moms in the park. Bring games and order out pizza," suggested Karen Hamilton, a mother of three in Rye, New York.
I tried my friends' suggestions - not the one about turning myself in to the authorities, but many others that you'll read about below. Slowly, as one good time followed another, the depression began to lift. Chase and Mackenzie were my guides as I let go of my expectations and allowed the fun to take whatever form it fancied.
Don't get me wrong, I know it can take more than nudie scarf dancing to beat postpartum depression. That's why, at the same time that I was reaching out to friends, I finally reached out to my ob-gyn for professional guidance. The combination of both helped me get my smile back.I read a magazine article once that said that if we want enduring satisfaction, we have to always be on the lookout for small miracles.Mothers have these small miracles in their lives every day. They are our children. And the time to enjoy them is right now. Here, just a smattering of ways to let the good times roll: