When I first started this blog, I did so because my partner, Rafal, wouldn’t let me share images of our baby on social media. We compromised on starting a blog: a place where I could document our sweet Lydia and the process of raising her. It was an innocent enough prospect. And then the baby came . . .
This morning I read that 80% of mothers experience the “baby blues,” characterized by worry, exhaustion, frustration, feeling overwhelmed, inability sleeping, and loss of enjoyment in normal activities. When I was a new mother, people would ask me if I experienced postpartum depression. I would say, “Where is the line between true depression and just having a life that sucks?”
I love my daughter so much. I wouldn’t take it all back. But having a baby catapulted me into a life so different, so much lonelier, and so much harder than anything I’ve even done before. I still feel overwhelmed. It is still harder to experience joy in normal activities when a small person is yanking on the bottom of my shirt. I’m still worried almost all the time.
This experience–dark though it was at times—taught me about sacrifice, about selflessness, about giving. I am a more complete person for it. And out of sheer desperation, this experience made me a better writer. My blog became a place for questions and struggles, for honest reflection and arduous growth. People enjoyed reading it, because at its heart it said something true.
Over the years, as the difficulty of motherhood has dulled, my writing has grown dull alongside it. This blog has become just a receptacle for my family adventures: a place that glosses over the tough stuff, and makes my life seem just healthy and fun.
Sometimes it is those things. I work hard to foreground those things. The adventures contained within this blog are true, and they reflect much of what I prioritize in life. They’re just not the whole truth. And while I’d like this blog to be, in part, a kind of photo album for my family, I’d also like it to be something more.
For a while now, for me anyway, blogging has become something closer to bragging. So here is a little dose of truth: there is a flip-side to having all of these adventures. There is a reason we have every single weekend free to go camping and hiking and la la la. We’re not near family, we don’t have many friends, and I don’t have a career. We stay in motion so that we don’t get lonely. We go outside because it’s the only thing we have. We have outdoor adventures because we don’t have a lot of money to do much else.
The mountains here stand in for family. For years on end, I dreamed about coming back to Montana. The universe (and my partner) brought me here. Each day I step outside and feel grateful. But these mountains, like just about everything in life: they come at a price.
In the cold of these winter months, I’m striving to keep it more real. I’m trying to let the part of me that needs everyone’s approval fall away. I’m trying to figure out who the real me is, and to let that person shine through.
Stay tuned, my friends. It’s likely to be a bumpy-but-beautiful ride.