Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I’m 25, the mother of 3 boys, and I’m a tired mom…and not the usual “tired” like every mom is. I’m talking about the kind of tired that leads me to sleep all the time, not want to clean, or even go too far out of my way to create a magical day for my kids. Don’t get me wrong: I love them with every ounce of my being, I just cant do what I used to anymore. I’ve been a house wife/stay at home mom for 6 years now. Additionally, my husband is in the military, so in the past 6.5 years we have lived in 5 different houses. I used to be able to do all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the laundry, and my boys (I’m proud to say) are most of the time extremely well behaved.
I’ve been on anti-depressants for over a year now, due to suicidal thoughts, which of course I’m not proud of (and if I don’t delete that line before I click the “submit” button, I’ll be surprised.) They keep me well balanced; however, my husband wants me off of them asap because its not “normal” to need a pill to be happy. (That’s a whole other email, in and of itself).
Nothing seems to help me “recharge”. I go out with friends every once in a while (though child care is really too expensive) and I don’t even want to go home. My husband doesn’t understand why I can’t do what I did the first 5 years (his words exactly), and no matter how many times I explain I’m burned out, it doesn’t change anything.
What are some (actual) helpful tips to help get back to being “happy mommy”? A hot bath and a glass of wine aren’t cutting it. Child care is not in our budget, and my husband is not a reliable source for helping me get out of the house alone.
Burned Out Mom
Dear Burned Out Mom,
Oh, girl, where do I begin?
I suppose the obvious would be best: you should know first and foremost that you are not alone in this. Motherhood is often like trying to tame wildebeests while the rest of the world watches and reminds you to “enjoy this precious time.” Meanwhile, you’re all, “Enjoy? THAT THING JUST BIT MY ARM.”
Secondly, I’m worried that your husband’s inability to support you emotionally and physically is not helping your situation. As you said, that is another situation in and of itself, but it’s not one to be taken lightly. His lack of empathy or concern for your experience is alarming and is something you need to address with him as soon as you feel confident and strong enough to do so. Couples counseling is great for this. As a fellow military wife, I can say for certain that it saved my little wildebeest family.
So let’s get to your question, then: how can you get back to being a happy mommy? The answer is so obvious that it eluded me, even, for years. You need to ask yourself (and then answer honestly and fully): what makes you happy? Don’t think yet about practicality. Just answer the question. For instance, I needed to realize that accomplishments, achievements, and intellectual stimulation make me happy. (All of which, it seems important to note here, are very difficult to seek while in the company of a drooling human that poos itself on the regular.)
Eventually, I was able to find this with part-time work, exercise, and a closer, more fulfilling relationship with my husband and family. Like you, money for childcare was an issue, but there are ways to make things happen. Reach out to neighbors and friends for childcare. Find a gym that comes with free child watch. Look for an exciting job you can do from home. Sure, the laundry will continue to pile up, but the most important point I can make to you–and I cannot emphasize this enough–is that you mustmustMUST take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Live a life you enjoy, and suddenly finding new ways to cook chicken breast, the ongoing drone of Little Bill, and bathrooms that perpetually smell of urine are no longer so utterly oppressive.
Good luck, momma. Find some friends, talk to your therapist, and be confident in yourself. There’s nothing here to be ashamed of. Take it from me: I’m awesome at murdering chicken breast.