I think one of the hardest things about being a Mom is the sacrifices we make for our families. Sometimes the sacrifices are obvious, like sleep, time, a career, etc. But, sometimes, the sacrifices are so subtle that we don’t notice we’ve given something up until it is already gone. If you asked me 11 years ago what my interests were, they would have included activities centered around sports (and shopping, I’ve always loved to shop). For the greater part of my life I would’ve characterized myself as an athlete. It was wrapped up as part of my image, my identity and my self-worth. For a long time, I felt like becoming a mother stripped that part of me away. I mourned my body in a major way after I had my first baby. The stretch marks, the loose skin, the extra weight. I felt incredibly defeated. I see moms who are running marathons and still in great shape and I struggle not to compare. But, when motherhood came, I was tired, lost my motivation and struggled with completing basic daily tasks. The idea of exercising overwhelmed me. My closest friends at the time didn’t have kids and they didn’t understand. Without meaning to, they just made me feel like I was being lazy. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it wasn’t normal to feel like that. After we had our 4th baby I realized I had a pattern of postpartum depression. It usually hit around 3 months after baby. I would just kind of go into a downward spiral. I would fall behind on house work, cooking meals, we would start eating out a lot (whether we could afford to or not which became a problem in and of itself), I struggled to be social, hated talking on the phone (still struggle with that one) and started avoiding responsibility because I couldn’t handle the pressure. When I look back now, I’m thankful that I never hurt myself or one of my kids, because I definitely should’ve been seeking professional help after my 3rd son was born. We had 3 in 3 years and honestly, I don’t know if the number is even what matters…when your kid(s) are little, things are just hard. Life is incredibly redundant and postpartum depression or not, sometimes it’s hard to pull yourself out of bed in the morning. It’s taken me years to even realize some of the things I’ve sacrificed unknowingly. There are things that got lost in the fog of those first few years. Looking back now, some of those things I gladly relinquish (ex. card making) and some I wish I could get back (ex. stamina). Some of you might be thinking that I still have all these little ones, and I do, but the intensity has lessened as some have gotten older and are able to help out. I think things get easier when you have at least one kid at home that you can have a normal conversation with and that wipes their own behind. I don’t struggle with depression like I did before, but I sometimes feel like it’s looming there, waiting to pounce. It helps me to stay involved with things socially. People energize me in the most fantastic way! Thank God for relationships! I would never undo becoming a mother, but sometimes I wish I could undo how depression has changed me as a person. I know that the depression is part of my journey though. When you’re in a dark place, you have to rely on God more than ever to be your Light. I have also learned I can’t blame depression for all of my issues. For me, there is some laziness mixed in there too, but I miss having the kind of motivation that results in a more active lifestyle. I am looking forward to our speakers this month. They will speak about the topic of depression from a professional standpoint and talk about the importance of taking care of ourselves. There was a time in my life when an acknowledgement from another Mom about her own struggle would’ve been a lifeline to me. My hope for MOPS this year is that if you need a lifeline, you will find it here. That wherever you are in your journey you will find a connection in our group. You might be the one to encourage another mom; you might be in need of encouragement or friendship. Our prayer as a leadership team is that you find that here.