The New Normal

Since the birth of the twins I’ve been having a tough time deciding what to do with my life. I mean, aside from what I feel is one of the most important tasks currently at hand: raising three uniquely tempered little individuals.

But prior to this game-changer of a role, I was a writer who had just completed graduate school (earning a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy), and was ready to embark on a career as a therapist working with (among other populations) postpartum clients.
After struggling to work through my own postpartum depression and anxiety (which is a blanket expression for an exceptionally large and difficult experience that I– and of course, my husband, and our relationship–dealt with), I felt drawn to working with other new parents who may be struggling with the challenges that the transition to new parenthood brings. I felt, and still feel, a deep empathy for all new (and seasoned) parents, who may not just be battling a postpartum mood and anxiety disorder, but who may be finding parenthood more difficult than they imagined. Because let’s face it- as if bringing a new life into the world and having to care for him/her around the clock isn’t tough enough, being a new parent also shifts your identity (and can often make you feel like you have lost yourself completely and may never feel “normal” again); it also undoubtedly affects your marriage, oftentimes decreases your sexual desire (which also may cast a negative shade over your marriage), and overall can turn your life on its head. If anything like me, the lack of control and predictability may also cause a surge of icky feelings, like anxiety, depression, hopelessness and helplessness. None of this is a good place to be in when you’re also trying to care for and keep a little one (or little ones) alive.
So there I was, ready to merge my writing with a career in the mental health field, working with clients on their journeys toward health, wholeness and wellness. And then our ultrasound showed twins. Well f*^k! I mean, amazing!! But also, f**k!

To be clear, I wanted this pregnancy. Deeply and passionately. I was so ready to give our then toddler a sibling – a lifelong confidante and playmate. But twins? Twins was definitely not on the radar.

Within an instant, I was thrown clear back into that state of panic, overwhelm and angst– the place I’d worked so hard to get out of for so many months after our first was born. How could I possibly work with clients, within this very population, in this state of mind? We would mutually trigger each other, and the whole thing felt unethical and just not right. And so I went on hiatus. I’ve been writing and doing some editing work (and this has been OK and good, because truly, writing is my lifeline–as crucial to me as breath), but I have not seen any clients. And 6 months postpartum, I’m not sure I’m ready to. Now, or even soon-ish. I just don’t know.
I don’t know what my professional future holds. But today I met with my supervisor (the amazing woman I see as I work toward full licensure… Which at this rate will be in 2040), and it felt incredible. Maybe eventually I will get back to seeing clients. Maybe I will write. Maybe I will run support groups. Maybe I will do some combo of many things. I don’t know. But I do know the kismet and empathy I feel with and for other parents, as both peers and clients, trying to figure this all out–how to reclaim and maintain their lives, marriages, and healthy selves, all while having and raising a family, is abundant. So to all you people out there in my same boat: I see you. I feel you. I AM you.

As we find ourselves immersed in this thing called parenthood, we may have temporarily forgotten ourselves. We may have gotten off our track–or perhaps found a NEW and more fitting track. We may be struggling to keep ourselves and marriages afloat while also keeping our wee ones alive, happy and thriving. We may have put careers on hold; future plans on standby. We may be worried that we will never get ourselves back–the pre-baby self that was young, carefree, spontaneous and fun. I see you. I feel you. I am you.

And hear me: this is where we are supposed to be. This is a phase of life – an amazing phase (if we allow ourselves to see it as such). It’s a short time-frame, one in which those babies and little ones need and want us more than anyone else in the Universe. When they see us, they are awe-struck; as if we are famous musicians strolling through our own homes. And hear this too: we haven’t lost ourselves. We are just emerging, as we always are, into new, different, and perhaps even better versions of ourselves. As we are doing all the time – have done since they moment we ourselves were born – we are evolving. So we have not necessarily lost anything – we are just shifting. We are finding our way to a new normal; a normal that will forever and always be changing as long as we are here, flipping through the ascending chapters of our lives.

I write these words because I need to read them, hear them and believe them.  But deep in my soul, I know them to be true. I may not know exactly what my future holds, but that’s okay. None of us does. Life is always unpredictable…off the cuff. And the life I’m currently living? It’s full of blessings and joy. I simply wouldn’t have it any other way.

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