My daughters were 7, 2, and newborn.
We had just completed a transcontinental move from Texas to Hawaii.
I was recovering from a Caesarean section.
We had one car.
We moved into our house on base to find out lots of broken and stolen items from the Texas packers.
My husband began his new job.
I was homeschooling my eldest child.
I couldn’t find any friends with whom I felt actually comfortable.
I was so tired ALL.THE.TIME.
Then the pastor’s wife at our new church came to visit me at our home.
I was grateful that it was naptime for my younger girls and I had my eldest read and play quietly in her room.
I had set out fresh baked sugar cookies and lemonade. Because I was raised always to serve food to guests.
After the pastor’s wife shoved our friendly cat off the sofa, shamed me for my daughter not having made the cookies from scratch, she proceeded to tell me that I was doing everything in my life wrong, wrong, wrong.
I’m not sure what I expected her to do or say, but that wasn’t it.
I was so stressed. I was anxious. I was depressed. I was cooped up in a house with three young children all day every day, homeschooling, nursing, making food, doing laundry, cleaning, barely surviving. Still in recovery from major surgery of a C-section, never resting.
Why couldn’t I lost weight and look like I did before the pregnancies?
My house was spotless. Meals were on time. Chores were completed every day. Homeschool checklists were checked.
I ran a tight ship. I was very efficient.
The visit from the pastor’s wife was the equivalent of telling me just to “calm down and smile more.”
The pastor’s wife didn’t even quote any Bible verses at me.
Surely, I was the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman?
The pastor’s wife’s visit only made me feel worse.
I felt like I was drowning.
I went to a medical doctor for a physical later that month.
He prescribed lots of mineral supplements, light exercise, and a Paleo diet – before that was even a thing.
Within a few weeks, I felt loads better physically.
But I was still exhausted mentally.
The mental load of a mother is tremendous.
Why is it so hard to make sure everyone in a family of six has good shoes that fit? Why must I remind everyone every day to brush their teeth? Why must I keep track of the family calendar? Why must I purchase all the presents for every single holiday? Why must I do all the research for every little thing?
Life was just hard with young children. I felt isolated with so many neighbors putting their kids in school so they could socialize with each other during the days. They made me feel outcast since I was homeschooling and keeping my kids close at home, with me. These moms made me question my values.
I reevaluated what I needed to do and wanted to do.
I had to focus and let some things slide.
Medication for anxiety and depression actually made me feel worse. I don’t allow myself to be a guinea pig and try lots of new meds or dosages. I just stopped the rx meds and managed my lifestyle and made lots of changes.
But even doing all the “right” things – exercise, getting fresh air and sunshine, eating well, meditating, reducing stress…the depression is still there. But if I don’t do those “right” things? The depression rears up like the monster it is.
Parenting with depression is really hard. There are some really bleak days.
But there are lovely days too.
We’ve moved so many times, starting over in new places, all hopeful – to have those hopes dashed for various reasons.
As my four kids are growing up and becoming more independent, many things become easier and other things become more difficult.
We’re now busy with sports and extracurriculars. I’m sad that most of these classes and practices are right in the middle of dinnertime.
I’m disappointed by so many people just assuming we are like average, mainstream white Americans.
We homeschool, but not like that. We don’t go to church, but we are spiritual. We don’t like guns. We are trying to be not consumerist. We are actively anti-racist. We seldom eat fast food – or out at all. I don’t work outside our home.
It’s really hard to fit in with families who all have known each other for generations.
I don’t have any family. And I’ve never had any friends.
While I happen to be alone, I constantly try to teach my kids how to have healthy relationships. I don’t want them to be friendless or awkward or anxious. I want them to recognize dysfunction and abuse. I want them to be open and friendly. I’m learning along with my kids how to have healthy emotions.
I feel dismissed when I meet new people. I say and do all the right things and I am begging to be liked but tryin not to fawn. I see in their eyes that I don’t have anything to offer them and they smile with only their lips and say, “Nice to meet you.” but turn away to talk to their friends.
It’s like high school all over again. They have no need to make room for me. They don’t make room for me.
I am more than a stereotype. And I’m sure many of these parents I see are too…but how would I know?
I’m still tired.
I’m still isolated.
I’m not unhealthy tired, physically.
My heart and soul are tired.
You might also like:
- Living with Depression
- Books about Depression
- Mental Illness Portrayed in Film
- What Depression Feels Like
- Memes as Therapy
- Emotional Health
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