Question: “I am a 30 year old married, LDS mother of two (ages 4 and 2). I am a stay at home mom and have been since my oldest was born. Since the birth of my second child two years ago I have experienced a decline in my happiness and ability to hold it together. I feel angry and tired. I feel lonely and sad. I am highly irritable and I am finding no pleasure or fulfillment in motherhood. I often wish I hadn’t had children. I go on drives alone in the car and scream and rage. I am an angry mom and I yell at my children. My husband is supportive, but certainly has limits. We have been to marital counseling. I am in the throws of a deep, seemingly unending depressive state and I can’t get out of it. In light of my complete dissatisfaction with being a stay at home mom, I am considering getting a full time job and finding a daycare solution for my children. I am trying to take care of myself so that I can take care of others because right now I can’t. So which is worse: A totally checked out, angry mom or daycare??”
Answer: I appreciate the question. It appears you are really struggling. You mentioned you are having difficulty with finding happiness and an ability to hold it together. I know with children that it can be very difficult to manage due to the emotional demands and small crisis that seem to occur by the minute with children at those ages. You posed a question postulating two answers, daycare or angry mom. I wish it were that simple. Having them in daycare may in fact help you get some breathing room but likely will not reach down and pull you from the depressive state you mentioned you are in. I don’t have all the details but you provided enough for me to answer here with some guidance. I’d suggest you move away from a linear solution, meaning the thought that it is the children solely that are causing what you referenced as “throws of a deep, seemingly unending depressive state”. You did candidly talk about your being in marital counseling as well. My question would be what are the assumptions, thought processes, and hopes you have as a mother currently? These likely are fueling your depression and felt sense of hopelessness. The driving alone and screaming in the car is not uncommon. I have spoken to male and female clients alike that have engaged in a ‘primal scream’ when alone upset with the overwhelming feelings of stress based on work or family. I know that must be really difficult to manage at this time.
Does finding a job and getting away from the children really help long term? Maybe. That is one solution of many. This solution is based upon the assumption that getting away from the children will in fact help alleviate your depression and felt sense of unhappiness. Granted, the kids are influencing your feeling overwhelmed I wonder if there are other things in your life that are fueling the depression. Your marriage? Inner issues, like self-esteem? On that same note, what does your husband think, is he supportive of having the kids in daycare?
My thought for you is to visit with your husband and iron out the list of options. I also suggest meeting with a therapist and sifting through the issues that are fueling the depression and unhappiness; I am confident that the kids are only a small piece of it. I’d suggest your getting into a more healthy place personally before you make a decision to put them in daycare. Bonding and attachment are key developmental tasks that, when interrupted, complicate and confuse the children that are familiar with you parenting them. I’m not an advocate of daycare in most cases, with some exceptions. If you have children and can raise them they’ll do best within your care. I do not recommend having others teach and nurture your own children, I feel that is task for you and your husband. Now that stated, you’ll need to seek some professional guidance and really sort out the emotional and mental challenges. Also, are you on medication? Something to look into following a full course of counseling for depression. I’ve seen cases of parents completely overwhelmed with children that did some solid couples and individual counseling and are now able to reframe and rebuild the nature of the home and dynamics within it. They then found that they can be happy and could of been prior but were buried in frustration and fear of being trapped in with chaotic kids.
I realize your situation is not as simple as putting them in daycare or being home and angry. I honestly feel you’ll need to do more of your own inner work before you can make a decision on what is best for your children and marriage. Clearly you want to have the best for your children. From your post it is clear that you regret yelling and being angry with them. I have worked with mothers in the past that are frustrated and struggling to deal with their kids while finding happiness and enjoyment in such a taxing role. I recommend reading, A Joyful Mother of Children, a text about the very issue you are facing. Also, here are some good articles on the topic of motherhood. Also, you may want to read my previous post on depression as well.
Best of luck in your journey. On another note, the role you play is quite noble. Men don’t cry in battle for their fathers, they don’t become violent when their fathers are threatened, it is their mothers they look to. Their mothers, for most boys, are the bedrock they rely on. Don’t quit, your children are counting on you.