Day two of the Warrior Mom Conference was ah-maz-ing. I went to a hysterical and brilliant presentation about Momposter Syndrome by Kelly Bauer of Motherhood Misfit and it was my favourite by far. She talked about how moms struggle with imposters syndrome (when we feel like we have tricked everyone into thinking we are cool moms and fear that they are going to discover that we’re frauds) and how it is time to OWN OUR AWESOMENESS. She is also a fellow nerd, proclaiming “Harry Potter is like a huge Xanax!”. So, obviously, I’m kind in love with her.
My talk was in the afternoon. I tried to calm my nerves ahead of time by eating comfort food with new friends, but despite this deliciousness I was only able to eat a few bites because anxiety decided to take over my stomach. Not being hungry is a thing that never really happens to me, so I knew I needed to get grounded.
I did some serious breathing and tried some CBT thought records to get clearer about what was going on for me. What if I totally blank? Unlikely. I know my stuff. In fact, I won’t shut up about community building and dismantling intensive mothering. AND I had written out the speech, so it even if I did freeze I could have read it off the sheet. But, what if my pants suddenly split open while I am on stage? I honestly feel like even if that did happen (it did not) the audience would normalize it and make me feel okay to be standing there with my panties in full view.
Anxiety is an irrational beast, my friends, and even those of us who are trained in teaching others how to cope still fall victim to its torment.
What I was really worried about was that my words wouldn’t resonate with the crowd. Or worse – my words would anger the crowd. The way I think and write and talk about perinatal mood disorders isn’t exactly textbook. And while it’s fine to be a rebellious weirdo in my own little community, I was surrounded by some serious thought leaders in perinatal mood disorder treatment and it felt hard to be a rebellious weirdo amongst the popular kids.
But I did it, y’all. I told myself to just get up then and own it and I got through it. My pants didn’t split. I didn’t forget my words. And guess what? They laughed at my jokes. And they stuck around to ask questions. And they sought me out to tell me that my words had landed and they too thought intensive mothering was bollocks too. Well, okay, clearly not everyone did that, but enough did to reassure me that there is something to this little concept of postpartum community resiliency.
In fact, I made so many friends that a big bunch of us decided that the best way to end this weekend would be with a group tattoo session. And as I am never one to say no to a tattoo, I got this pretty little thing to honour the weekend.
I know it can be scary out there folks, but doing scary things and surviving them feels pretty good. And sometimes, you make new friends. And it you are lucky, sometimes you get new tattoos. And if you are really lucky you get tattoos with new friends.