Stolen Joy

At first I didn’t even realize it was missing.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” – Rajneesh

I had never had the experience of being a mother before, so I didn’t know exactly what it was supposed to be – I just had my own expectations.

“Being a mom is the most rewarding experience you can ever have…You get to birth them into the world. Raise them right, see them grow…The first time they wrap their little arms around you and give you a tight hug… it is just all so wonderful.” – post on Yahoo! Answers

The first month I thought it had been given to me – the amazing experience of being a mother. I sensed my motherhood in his tiny hands, wispy hair and beautiful baby cheeks. I thought we had it figured out.

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Early in the second month, things started to be different. It wasn’t the start of my battle – I now realize that started much earlier – but during this time the thieves came and, bit by bit, stole from me.

He was fussy. He took a bottle for a while (freedom!) and then refused outright for months (despair). He didn’t sleep. He screamed and then he screamed some more.

I cried when he cried. I lay awake at night totally unable to sleep. I yelled at my husband. I went to play dates and pretended everything was fine but felt like an imposter.

“Nothing else will ever make you as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, for nothing is quite as hard as helping a person develop his own individuality especially while you struggle to keep your own.” – Marguerite Kelly and Ella Parsons

Why was this happening to me? Where did it come from? This was not the experience of motherhood I wanted to have. I didn’t want to be angry, frustrated, and sad. And so resentful. Resenting my experience of motherhood consumed me for months.

I look back on those days with love for him – so much love – but not the joy I had expected. The joy of motherhood had been stolen from me. Postpartum depression took it away.

“No one can go back and make a brand new start, my friend, but anyone can start from here and make a brand new end.” – Dan Zadra

Eventually, I accepted that things weren’t just going to get better. I had to ask for – and accept – help and after I did things got better for a while. And then worse again. Over nearly three years I’ve battled a series of ups and downs – waves that crashed over me again and again and finally coughed me up on the beach, spent.

“And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” – JK Rowling

I’ve seen rock bottom – a place in me I thought didn’t exist. Thoughts I believed were for others to think, not me. I stared in the face of the easy way out and chose not to take it.

I have a child. I am a mother. This is my experience – the good and the bad.

Because of something I didn’t see coming, something that is not my fault, the experience of motherhood I wanted was stolen from me. And now I’m taking it back. It’s time to rebuild.

This is what joy looks like


This post is non-fiction and written in response to a prompt from The Red Dress Club.

Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to get it back? Or will you give up?

Write a post – fiction or non-fiction. Word limit is 600.



  1. Well, this is just achingly vulnerable and beautiful.

    I love how you used the various quotations . . . especially at the beginning of the piece . . . . so many expectations imposed by the words of others.


    Love to you, babe.

  2. You're concise and it made an impression. You didn't say too much – there was no gratuitous self-pitying – and you didn't say too little. The anger, the fear, the disappointment was there.

    And so was the determination to take it all and make it your own.

    Wonderful job – both the writing and the attitude. :)

  3. What a beautiful post! I love the quotations throughout. This truly touched me because I too have felt the despair for not living up to other's expectations of motherhood! Beautiful. I stopped by from the RDC!

  4. I too like the use of the quotes throughout. Motherhood is such a big experience and sometimes it's easy to get overly sentimental and blur the truth. I like what you did here.

  5. Beautiful words (as always) Mama R. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for showing others how to rebuild.

  6. This is beautiful, of course. The others are right–the quotes are very effective.

    But mainly, I'm so caught up in the emotion, that I just felt my way through this post.

    You know I'm pulling for you guys.

    Love his picture–what a cutie.

  7. so sweet and true. I hear you on so many levels. especially the no sleep hell.

    And your writing voice, boy you can sing. much love.

  8. Wow – this is so powerful. I agree with a previous commenter on your lack of self-pity or overindulgence in any one emotion. You managed to balance it all out and I can't imagine that was an easy task. Great job, and a big hug for you.

  9. I love this.

    One thing I have come to realize is that some amount of frustration is inherent in motherhood. Mothers who do not suffer from postpartum mental health issues feel frustration with their children sometimes. Taking care of a small person who cannot easily communicate their needs is an inherently frustrating task.

    For me this was a huge realization because I could finally accept that PPA and PPOCD did not ruin me as a mother. Just because I feel frustration or anxiety (like right now since my 6 month old currently has a cold and I had a carpet cleaning appointment that I could not reschedule so I had to rearrange my house for that on absolutely no sleep for the carpet guys) does not necessarily mean that PPA and PPOCD is taking control again. Sometimes it just means that I am frustrated, and that is okay.

  10. Melanie says:

    How empowering! This moved me so much. I love that you're taking back your motherhood instead of sinking into despair about that time of motherhood you lost. I love that you revealed the raw side of motherhood, especially with having gone through PPD. And you expressed it all so beautifully with your words. Such poignant writing.

    Thanks for sharing this personal part of your life.

    Visiting from TRDC

  11. MamaRobinJ says:

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. This was a tough one and I played with the format a lot. I wasn't sure if it came out the way I had envisioned but I appreciate the feedback. It was empowering to write, that's for sure!

  12. I love the honesty, thoughtfulness, and poetry of this post.

    The quotes throughout made this a really "smart" read, but the rawness made it emotional.

    My favorite part: "I sensed my motherhood in his tiny hands, wispy hair and beautiful baby cheeks. I thought we had it figured out." Lovely wording with a hint of what's coming. Perfect.

  13. That first quote had me in tears.

    How beautiful and true is this!

    What a struggle motherhood is, I had no idea it didn't just "come."

    You are doing beautifully and I am so proud of you.

    That child of yours?


  14. First of all, that baby?? ADORABLE! Look at those rolls!

    This is beautiful and honest without being overdone.

    I loved the quotes…but I found them distracting because I was just getting into your story and then there was another quote. I'm wondering if maybe you didn't need as many. Your words are beautiful, too.

  15. This was beautiful, Robin! You did a great job with the prompt and I'm sure it was hard to write. I loved the quotes in the post and that they were all from different people. I really enjoyed the format. Your little guy is just precious!

  16. This was a heartbreakingly beautiful post. Your words were so powerful, so aching and so very honest.

  17. Rosemary says:

    Really good piece Robin. Love not just the quotes, but the progression of them and how they really fit what you are feeling. One person above pointed out that many, many moms are surprised by the lack of joy when they have a new baby (for one reason or another), so it's not just PPD that stole that from you; I think society imposes expectations that just aren't realistic to begin with. Rebuilding is a good thing; so glad you're taking back what you want from it all. Big hugs to you always. x

  18. Oh, this was amazing.

    Raw, poetic, haunting, real. Beautiful.

    I loved the use of the quotes. I thought they were perfectly chosen and placed. I believe they informed your piece without taking anything from the beauty of your own words.

    This – "I’ve seen rock bottom – a place in me I thought didn’t exist. Thoughts I believed were for others to think, not me. I stared in the face of the easy way out and chose not to take it." – chilling.

    This – "I sensed my motherhood in his tiny hands, wispy hair and beautiful baby cheeks. I thought we had it figured out." – perfect.

    Your son is bliss. Oh, that face.

  19. Denelle @CaitsConcep says:

    I feel redundant in saying that I loved the placement of quotes throughout this..

    Mainly? I just wanted to offer cyber-hugs and wish you luck in your quest for "better." We may not always be able to live up to our own expectations, but all they expect is love.. and that's something we have. The rest needs work, but love? Love, we most definitely have.

    Great job..

  20. I thought I had already commented on this one???

    It's beautiful, raw and honest.

    I love the quotes too, I think they really enhance your words.

    And Connor? Adorable!

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