Motherhood brings its own share of worries, but for author Bunmi Laditan, who has been candid about her struggles with depression and anxiety, a sense of peace has come from an unexpected source.
Laditan, who was raised by Christian parents but never believed in God herself, converted to Judaism when she married her first husband and settled into life as a mom who practiced Jewish traditions with her family.
"If anything, I thought, 'Well, there's a God but he cares about who he cares about and we're not some of those lucky people,'" Laditan, who created the hilarious Honest Toddler Twitter account when her kids were younger, told TODAY Parents. "But being a Jewish wife and mother easily became my identity. I took to it immediately and I understood the rhythms of Jewish life. I loved it."
When her marriage ended, however, Laditan felt practicing Judaism was too painful a reminder of her past relationship. For years, the now-37-year-old said she considered herself a "seeker," studying everything from Islam to the occult in her search of spiritual knowledge.
"I reached the dark night of my life and everything was out of control," Laditan said. "I was feeling at my absolute worst."
After struggling with postpartum depression and psychosis and nearly taking her own life, Laditan found herself turning back to her Jewish faith, then beginning to question whether Jesus played a role in her beliefs as well. The mother of three says she began asking God through prayer if Jesus was real, and after a spiritual experience where she felt what she describes as a "powerful, gentle and loving" presence, she began praying more fervently.
In her newest book, "Dear God: Honest Prayers to a God Who Listens," Laditan shares a collection of written prayers that have helped her manage her depression and anxiety and handle the daily worries of parenting.
"The prayers are me talking to God and challenging him a lot," Laditan said. "I give him everything — my anger, my disappointment, my past — and as I do it, I feel him teaching me."
Still, Laditan said she wants parents to know it's important to also seek medical treatment when mental health issues arise.
"I will take anxiety and depression meds for the rest of my life," she said. "That's just how my brain is, and I don't want anyone to think you're not doing prayer or religion 'well enough' if you have these struggles with mental health."
"Faith is instrumental to me in that, when I'm going through these really dark times, I can turn to God and know he is real," Laditan continued. "I can say, 'God, I need help getting from point A to point B and I don't want to depend on alcohol to get me there, I don’t want to depend on a distraction to get me there, I want to depend on you.'"
So what are Laditan's biggest prayers for her kids, who are 14, 11 and 7?
"You see your kids go through different struggles, especially as they get older," she said. "You see them go through things with friends, and we can't just pick them up like they're babies and put a fence around them, so prayer helps me feel calm."
Laditan said she prays over her kids' individual struggles and needs each night before bed.
"God actually answers prayers," she said. "He's not just listening. He actually helps."
At night, when Laditan has the most trouble letting go of her worries, she prays that angels will watch over her children throughout the night.
"And then," she joked, "I try to sleep as best as I can.
"I just pray and I give them back to the God who created them. He loves them more than I could even begin to love them. We're both his children, I'm just a little bit older."