I saw a post the other day on a mum group I’m in that I thought was worth a bit more discussion. One of the ladies in there had asked if it was possible to have post natal depression when her child was almost 3 years old. Now I’m not a doctor, so I don’t claim to have any sort of ability to discuss a condition like PND, however, I do know that mum life is hard and different people struggle with different stages, so post natal depression or not I’m pretty sure that things can happen at any stage of parenting that can make you feel like it’s hard to cope.
When you become a parent you know there will be challenging days. You know a new born baby will wake regularly through the night, and that sleep deprivation is likely to be part of your life for the next few months or even years. But no one really tells you all the other things that might happen that make your life so darn hard, and some times just down right depressing.
For me personally, I found bringing home a new baby to be a huge challenge. Much harder than I had ever thought it would be. The sleep deprivation was much worse than I thought too, but that phase didn’t last too long and things started to settle down in the sleep department. That doesn’t necessarily mean it gets easier though, and I think that is what makes it hard in the long term. Everyone expects the difficult parts when baby is small, but you don’t realise all the hard stuff that continues for years and years and that can be hard to handle.
Of all the stages of parenting I’ve found the 3-5 year old age the hardest. We have a 4 and a 5 year old right now, and with only 21 months between them it feels like we have had a threenager, fournager or fivenager in our house practically forever!! I can’t say 4 or 5 is all that much easier either. This stage is a period where they are growing in their independence, and boy do they like to assert that independence (usually at the most inconvenient times).
Another thing that I’ve seen a lot of mums struggle with and that I struggle with myself is that I’m not even sure what happened to “me”. When you become a mum you can lose so much of your previous identity and your often no longer have the time, energy or money to do the things that made you happy in your previous life.
I miss the carefree coffee dates with friends, the after work drinks and the last minute weekends away with the hubby. I miss getting to spend late nights up reading my favourite novels knowing I could sleep in the next morning, and I’m so so tired of being woken up at 5.30 almost every morning!
It’s hard when you hardly ever manage to get a minute to yourself anymore (even on the toilet). It’s hard when you look at your child free kids and see all the fun they are having and feel more than a little bit jealous (and then feel guilty coz you know you should feel grateful that you have happy, healthy kiddies). It’s hard when you put so much effort into trying to grow happy well rounded little humans and yet no one ever shows an ounce of gratitude for all the effort that you put in day after day, week after week and year after year. It’s hard on those days when your kids do those things that make you start to wonder if you’re raising well rounded humans at all, and you start to feel like you’re failing.
I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I know that I have a pretty darn great life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sorry for myself from time to time. I love my kids and I’m grateful that I have them in my life – I wouldn’t have it any other way – but I wanted to acknowledge that being a mum is hard for more than the baby stage, and that if you’re struggling too you are totally normal!
We became mothers for a whole load of reasons, and there are most certainly a lot of rewards from having kids, but it is hard work too and we should try and go easy on ourselves for not always being perfect at the hardest and longest job in the world.