Dear Lily on 'How I Met Your Mother' -- Yes, Motherhood Is Hard
You've been on my mind and my heart since the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother aired. While I acknowledge that you are a fictional character, I have become attached to you and your friends over the years. I have laughed and cried with you for eight seasons now. But the other night, dear Lily, I cried for you. Because -- damn -- motherhood is hard, isn't it?
I've admitted before that I'm a crier. The show has made me cry before, probably more than any show that identifies as a comedy. But the other night, it was a primal, from the core kind of cry. I wanted to wrap you in my arms, and hold you close. I wanted to tell you that you are not alone. I wanted to share my story so that you understood that, yes, it gets better. And worse. And better. And on and on and on, back and forth, back and forth.
When you said...
Sometimes I wish I wasn't a mom. Sometimes I want to pack a bag and leave in the middle of the night and not come back.
Me, watching your confession on my laptop.
...well, I gasped. I then choked a little bit. Then the tears sprung from my eyes and I hid my face from my husband. He didn't even laugh at me as he often does when I burst into tears over television shows. Even he knew that what just happened on the flat screen was big stuff. He has lived through my darkest times of motherhood with me, my constant companion and my support system -- even when I wasn't quite ready to talk about how low and dark I was at the time. He was there. So he let me cry.
I just wanted to tell you (and, by telling you, your writers) how brave it was for you to admit that... to a friend, on a television screen. (How brave of your writers to "go there," to be this real.) To say the words, "I wish I wasn't a mom," is to go against the core of everything women are told that they should want to be in this life. Of course, we know that's not really true; women don't have to be mothers to be "valid," but society shoves it at us all the same. So for those of us who have chosen the path of motherhood and embarked on the journey, admitting that it isn't very fun and that we want to pack our bags and head for the hills is the kind of thing we often reserve for Post Secret or our own private journals. Or not at all. Telling someone is brave. It's big. It's also vital.
Postpartum depression is a cruel, lying thief of joy. When I was lost in my darkest days, absolutely sure that no other mother on the planet could be worse than me, I felt isolated and alone. I felt like I couldn't reach out to anyone, even the husband I already told you about. I felt that I didn't deserve to be a mom if I was feeling this lost, this confused, this empty, this angry, this broken. I lost a lot of time while I refused to tell anyone. You've already taken the first step. You've told a friend. Now it's time to tell your best friend, your husband. He is Marshall, after all; he loves you and will support you. He's a big ole teddy bear. Let him hug you.
There is hope on the other side of these dark days, Lily. But first you need to seek and receive help even if it's just from your husband. And most of all, be gentle with yourself. The learning curve on how to be a mom is a steep one. Seven years into the daily grind of mothering, I still don't have it all down. But I do know that people -- my husband, my therapist, my doctor, my mom friends, my non-mom friends, Postpartum Progress, people online -- made and continue to make a difference in my everyday in and out of motherhood. I encourage you to reach out beyond Ted. There are people who love you, who want to and can be there for you as you continue to make sense of what life is and will be like as a mom. Maybe ask your character's actress, two time mom Alyson Hannigan, to be your mom mentor. Something tells me she already is.
Credit: © MWP/ZUMAPRESS.com
I believe in you, Lily.
PS: This letter can be altered to feature your name, dear reader. If you are struggling with postpartum depression or even, years out, struggling with the everyday of being a mom, please reach out. You are not alone. You are loved. You are important and vital.