Hax: Unhappy new mom feels like a failure
Adapted from a recent online discussion:
Had a baby two months ago. I'd never harm him or myself, and I do love him, but I hate being a mom. I stay at home with him after a decade as a high-school teacher, a job I loved. When he screams, I wish I was wrangling surly teenagers, because at least that's something I understand and am good at.
I'm tired of getting up at night, of never having time to myself, of the house never being clean.
Husband is helpful but doesn't understand why I feel like a failure. I get lots of support from my mom and mother-in-law, whose pushiness doesn't help things. I get out for walks and errands, and I take the baby to all of these things. But overall, I'm not thrilled that my future is full of nothing but him.
I don't think I'm depressed, as I can look at all this without passion. How do I learn to like my new “career”?
— I Hate Being a Mom
Please get screened for postpartum depression anyway; “I don't think I'm depressed” doesn't rule it out.
Still, just about every new parent feels desperate, because it's relentless, new and scary, and walking away is unthinkable. Desperation relapses are also common whenever Baby grows into a new stage.
Partly to blame is our culture's ridiculous expectation that at-home parents fit the way we live now — house-centric isolation — instead of requiring what young families need and used to have: community.
As kids learn and change, parents must learn and change with them.
You have many possible lifelines. You can decide you'd be a better mom working than not; or accept you feel frustrated by babies but will get progressively better with toddlers, tweens, teens (most parents like one age best). You can lean more on others; or be patient until your love kicks in, because it's not instantaneous for everyone; or see for yourself that nobody's house is clean. Connect with other parents, through an organized group if needed. No fear, no shame.
But, again — see a doctor first. It'll get better.
To: New Mom:
Hold on one more month! They call it the fourth trimester for a reason — the baby is just this blob, a howling black hole of neediness and poop and nothing else . Everyone told me three months would be the point where it got better and, honest to goodness, I checked my journal. Day 92 was the first day I felt like I hadn't ruined my life.
Excellent, thanks — with a your-mileage-may-vary disclaimer. We don't want a bad Day 93 to unravel her.
For what it's worth, my experience was a cycle:
1. The what-have-I-done phase, when the kids hit a new stage of development that I didn't yet know how to handle.
2. The ooooooh-now-I-get-it phase.
3. The please-outgrow-this-stage-lest-I-implode phase.
Leaning on more experienced fellow parents saved me through No. 1; recruiting help really takes the edge off No. 3. No. 2, obviously, you hang on to with both arms.
Email Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- In Steelers-Saints game, all eyes on Brown-Lewis matchup
- Trib 30 index surpasses August high
- Pittsburgh councilwoman proposes rules for protecting dogs from extreme weather
- Connellsville girls basketball looks for returners to be leaders in 2014-15
- Trib real estate writer Spatter ‘worked right to the end’
- Mirai debut brings fuel cell future closer
- Season of change on tap for South Allegheny boys basketball
- Knoch girls putting focus on defensive end
- Knoch boys deal with early-season injury
- Cash-strapped Pittsburgh Public Schools to sponsor holiday parade
- Carnegie boy with rare gene mutation enjoys 1st Penguins game