Every Day is a Challenge
It was Saturday afternoon, no one had to get up early for school but we had been up since 8 A.M nonetheless. It had been only been a few hours and we hadn’t done anything exhausting, but I’m struggling to keep up. At nearly six years old and almost two, the kids were quite active. They wanted to play in the park area outside our apartment. Play dolls or roll trucks. They wanted to be loud and rowdy. I only wanted to sleep.
Parents want naps. It happens. Most people, in general, want naps, especially on the weekends. I had already slept a dozen hours. My physical body wasn’t tired. Mentally and emotionally, I had nothing left. Depression is incredibly toxic for many reasons. I have days where I want to cry and I want to throw fits over any little thing. Most days, I just want to sleep, stay in bed closed off from anyone else, hiding from everything. If I could, I’d sleep for most of the day. And when I got the chance, I did.
Struggle Despite “Normal” Life
My kids light up my life. Their grins and laughs, even their cries make me happy to call myself their mom. But most days, it’s a struggle to get out of bed or do anything other than laze around. I don’t have a very straining life to be completely honest. A dishwasher for dishes, my husband works to pay the bills. Other than keeping up with the kids, my life isn’t difficult by most standards.
Showering is hard. I have to convince myself to get up and bathe or I’d no doubt go weeks without it. Even then, some weeks I put it off for several days until I have no option but to bathe because being dirty is uncomfortable, too. A shower isn’t a lot of work, but to me, and many others, showering is up there with building a house from scratch.
My kids always come first. I love them and would do anything for them but it drains me even more. Many days I’m asked if we can go to the park or the zoo. I’m begged to play outside or at least join them in their rooms to play with their toys. And many times, unfortunately, I tell them I can’t because getting down and playing with them sounds more like climbing a mountain. Getting out of bed or off the couch sounds seems virtually impossible.
For years, I’ve beat myself up for being lazy. I did anything I could. I ran letter and number flashcards for the kids and held them while I read them books. But I didn’t get up. Didn’t want to, maybe, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I know more about depression now, and that it isn’t because I’m lazy. Depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue and pain and other medical conditions have plagued me for dozens of years. They are the reasons why I can’t manage to function sometimes; not because I’m just ‘lazy’.
Pain of Being Misunderstood
If someone had a broken leg, they couldn’t walk around, no one would fault them for not running a marathon. They have a medical situation. They can’t run. It’s okay. They can’t walk well. It’s okay. Physical ailments are understood, excused, and more importantly, accepted. I can’t get out of bed. I can’t hop around and play games. I can’t do things my kids want me to do, things that I want to do, because of a mental condition. Disappointedly, many people only see that as a flimsy excuse or lie for being a lazy deadbeat mom.
Am I a Horrible Parent?
Whether you’ve had depression your whole life, after some traumatic event, or postpartum, depression makes life, impossibly hard (with or without children). The difference is with children, they run a risk of being directly affected from the depressed parent. There’s also the additional strain of judgment on depressed parents, the expectations they cannot meet, and society doing their best to make the parent feel like a failure.
For some people, the pressure of so many eyes on their actions may help them strive harder to overcome the days that aren’t too bad. But for most, myself included, being judged on not doing myself up with makeup or not bringing the kids to the park every day, makes me feel like an even worse parent. Even with my children happy, healthy, educated, and perfect in every way they need to be, I feel like I fail them. The worst part is feeling like I can’t do what I need to do for them, and feeling the pain of “slacking off” my parental duties that I can’t get motivated to do differently.
In our lives, we’re told all the time how we’re not “good enough” as parents. Parents, mothers especially, are bombarded with judgments. If a woman doesn’t fix her hair one morning when dropping her kid off at school, regardless of how well put-together the kid is, people judge as if she’s an unfit mother because she just didn’t have it in her to do her hair. Sometimes, though, there is only so much energy a person has to use, and they devote it to their kid rather than their own clothes or hair.
I applaud those parents who are struggling to pull themselves out of bed but still manage to do their best for their children despite their own struggles with their personal necessities of life. They deserve more credit, or at the very least, less scrutiny for being “lazy” people, and some acknowledgment for tending to their children when they can’t even tend to themselves most days.