Former Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky-Manno recently shared some surprisingly candid truths about her motherhood journey for the August cover story of Fit Pregnancy and Baby.
Throughout her first year as a mom, Fedotowsky frequently posted happy, smiling photos alongside her newborn, Molly. She and her husband, Kevin Manno, recently celebrated Molly’s first birthday (a huge milestone for any parent) and were thrilled in the Instagram images Fedotowsky shared.
For the first eight months of their daughter’s life, the couple didn’t let Molly out of their sight — not even for family to babysit. Personally, I can relate. My daughter is 4 and I only recently spent my first night ever away from her. For new and seasoned moms alike, asking for help can make us feel like we’ve failed. We’ve been ingrained with the desire to project this perfect (and unrealistic) image of motherhood that only fosters the idea that if we’re doing a good enough job, we shouldn’t need to ask for help.
Fedotowsky shared the moment it all got to be too much.
“After months of no breaks and little sleep, I legit had a mental breakdown. I remember I was in our kitchen, crying to Kevin on the phone, saying, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I need help.’ I was holding Molly. She was screaming. I was screaming. It was like out of a movie — I lost my mind.”
Now, if that’s not something every mom can relate to, I’m not sure what is.
Fedotowsky says she always gets asked about the thing that surprised her most about motherhood. Her answer cuts straight to the heart of it: “How hard it is. I love my daughter. She brings so much joy to my life, but I really, truly wasn’t prepared for how difficult motherhood would be.”
She often asks herself how she’s surviving, but realizes it’s simply day by day.
“I haven’t figured out balance in any shape or form, I really feel like I need to figure that out. But every mom I’ve ever talked to basically says, ‘Good luck finding balance because you never do.’”
However, the new mom finally realized that part of that balance is learning to ask for help, though it wasn’t an easy road. A year after Molly was born, Fedotowsky is just now beginning to lean on friends. The couple has also asked their moms to fly out and stay with them for a week. They also hired a part-time nanny who comes once or twice a week.
It’s so easy to think we can do this motherhood thing by ourselves. But then the pressure builds and builds until the demands become too much. Before long, we find ourselves crying on the phone saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” It takes a lot of humility and strength to realize asking for help is not weakness. In fact, when we ask for help, we’re also providing an opportunity for our loved ones to take care of us.
My parents live right down the road from us. When my daughter was a baby, my mom would constantly ask if she could watch her for a couple of hours while I rested or got work done, and I wouldn’t let her. Even when she asked, I questioned the motivation was behind it. Did I look stressed out? Haggard? Did my baby seem unhappy? Of course, those were only my own insecurities.
All my mom wanted was a chance to watch her granddaughter (and assist her own daughter) and I was depriving her of that. After weeks of sleepless nights, I finally caved, and it was the best decision I ever made.
We don’t need to go crazy trying to be the best mom in the world. We just need to remind ourselves that we’re only human, and that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s important to remember there will be days we feel like we’re doing it wrong and we’re at our wit’s end — and that’s okay.
“It’s been hard but super rewarding and full of love and joy and incredible moments,” Fedotowsky said. “Even the parts that are hard and really challenging are so good because I’m growing and learning with Molly and we’re becoming better together.”
Thank you for sharing your struggles with the world, Ali — we’re all right here with you.