What to Do when You’re Unhappy with Parenthood
By sleepingshouldbeeasy on August 01, 2014
“Does it get better?”
Am I happy with parenthood?
After all, your coworker won’t stop swooning over her new baby, sleep-deprived and everything. Other friends seem to have “easy” babies who don’t give as much trouble as yours does. And you’re beyond exhausted.
This is the story of your fellow mom who wrote in with her predicament. She has two-month-old twins on top of her three-year-old. Twins she hadn’t “planned” since she was only hoping for two kids (sound familiar?). And this change of plans—along with the challenges of the newborn stage—is making her feel unhappy.
Before I go on, let me preface by saying that while I’m not an expert on post-partum depression, I know it’s real. Just as women develop hemorrhages and diastasis recti after delivering a baby, so too can we suffer from post-partum depression. It’s a big deal that you should talk to your doctor, but not a huge deal that you should be ashamed (any more than you would be ashamed of other post-partum complications).
So in addition to taking your own precautions, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your doctor about your feelings, even if it’s to vent about the hardships of parenthood. Complaining doesn’t mean she’ll slap you with a label and send you off with meds, but she’ll be better able to make a decision.
That said, I have plenty to say about surviving the newborn stage and managing your emotions. Like your fellow mom above, I too had wanted only two kids—I was overwhelmed with the logistics of caring for two, much less providing for them financially.
And like any sleep-deprived mom, I couldn’t function on less than eight hours of sleep—I was short with my family, I complained more than I coddled, and sometimes I was miserable.
So what do you do when you’re pining for your old life instead of feeling overjoyed and blessed? When you find yourself unhappy with parenthood?
Grieve your expectations.
You were hoping so much for a girl. Or maybe you only wanted two kids, not three. Perhaps you weren’t even planning on having kids at all—at least not yet.
We don’t give enough weight to the expectations we carry prior to what eventually befalls us. A pregnant mom might have wanted a girl and must now bury her resentment or disappointment of having a boy. Or the news of a pregnancy might throw you for a loop when you weren’t even trying to have a kid.
It’s no surprise I was a bit shook up when I found out I was having twins. I cried for a week. This wasn’t in my “plans,” and I worried about the arrangements, from finances to logistics to child care.
All this from a time when I was supposed to be on cloud nine and in love with my predicament.
If you harbored expectations and they weren’t met, give yourself the time to grieve for what isn’t or couldn’t be. You’re not a horrible mom for hoping for something else. These thoughts need to be addressed and accepted, not brushed under the rug.
Understand that things do get better.
As a first-time mom, I was ready to slap anyone’s face who told me it’ll get better. Really? When? Because when you come to dread the evenings and wonder whether you’re even fit for this parenting business, “it’ll get better” doesn’t seem to come fast enough.
Yet it did, and it will for you. When? Maybe:
- When they sleep through the night (or at least longer chunks of it).
- When they can put themselves to sleep.
- When they can communicate better.
- When you have a routine.
- When they become more self-sufficient and independent.
- When you’re no longer pumping, nursing or bottle-feeding.
- When they don’t have colic or gas.
- When they smile.
- When they take consistent naps.
- When your hormones are more balanced.
And perhaps most importantly, when you’ve adjusted to your new role. Motherhood is hard. There’s no preparing you for this role, regardless of how many books or classes or babysitting you’ve done. Not even if you were a nanny, a nurse or a teacher.
So imagine being thrown into this predicament that has been called one of the most difficult jobs. It’s hard to see how things can get any better when every week, every night, seems to stretch forever.
However, those days and weeks turn into months and you’ll see one day, your baby slept longer than usual. And you now know how to open and fold the darn stroller, dump it in the car and take your baby for an outing—all on your own. And when you become more confident in your abilities, things will become second nature. You’ll find more time to enjoy parenthood and spend time with your baby.