I just read this:
Dear Pioneer Woman:
In a nutshell: I’m living the American dream and I hate it. I live in a beautiful house, I have a husband that earns enough money for me to stay home with my three children, my bills are mostly paid, I have health insurance, yadda, yadda, yadda. And yet? I’m not happy. Not at all.
I feel as if I’m doing everything I can to change my mental state (Zoloft, going back to college, pleasurable hobbies, etc.) but I still grapple with my day-to-day existence. I feel like my ennui is largely related to the endless work of caring for three children under six. The advice I’m seeking would be: how do I get through this stage of life? Will it, in fact, get better as my kids grow up? What can I do now, today, to not feel so constantly miserable?
Your question perfectly illustrates the day-in and day-out strain of caring for small children. It can be brutally monotonous. Wiping mouths. Wiping tables. Wiping bottoms. Not necessarily in that order. Making sure they don’t get hurt. Answering “why” all day long.
Being a mother to small children is one of the hardest—and most pride-swallowing—vocations in the world. There’s not a mother alive who hasn’t wrestled with at least occasional bouts of boredom. I have a friend who really struggled during the years her kids were small. It wasn’t depression, it was just a daily realization that “this is her life” and she really fought it. Now that her kids are older, that has lifted and she’s got a real spring in her step.
So two things: Know that your three kids under six, before you know it, are going to be three kids over six who can wipe their own mouths, fix their own snacks, pick up their own rooms, and—this is the fun part—engage in conversations that aren’t necessarily about Barney or Teletubbies. I realize those are dated references, but see? I’m already so removed from the raising-tiny-children stage that I don’t even know the TV references anymore. You may just be one of those moms who’s more suited to raising older kids, and if that’s the case, I promise you’re in for a treat.
Another thing, though, is this: I find during times of prolonged ennui or discontent, it helps to look for a more eternal purpose in what you’re doing. Of course, that’s not hard to do when raising children; you’re laying the foundation for the people they’ll become, and if you can see past the daily grind, that can help propel you forward most days. But also, adding things here or there—whether it’s sponsoring a child in an impoverished country, volunteering in your community, or just helping a relative or friend who’s struggling—can often help derail you from getting too mired in your stuff.
Hang in there. You’re doing a good thing.
Yeah. I’m not the only one going through this. I’m not the only who breaks down in some way or another almost every day. I’m not the only one who finds being a mom to a little one a lot harder than I thought, and I can’t even really pinpoint why. I love my daughter, I have exactly what I want, and it’s okay that I’m struggling for no good reason. I can do this.
I think each mother has a different time when motherhood is just hard: I was fine when MM was a newborn, but some people struggle then. But now she’s one, and I’m struggling as she toddles around and eats dirt and begs to play with my cellphone and wants to nurse more than I want to let her. I love her and I think she’s adorable for it all, but I struggle sometimes. But some people like toddlers. And some people are bad with older kids, great with young ones. And so on. The point is, motherhood isn’t easy, but the good thing is that kids grow up and this stage is just a stage and so I better enjoy it as much as I can, but I don’t have to mourn when it’s gone.