One of the problems with being a single mother or a working mother is that there is no time. There is no time to sit in silence. Especially, if there is no one helping you, so that you can get a break sometimes.
Some of us have no husband … Others have a husband but he does not help with the kids. He does not take over for a little while so you can get a break, from the continuous doing, doing and more doing.
The problem with having no silence or quiet time, is that there is no way to evaluate your inner self. There is no space to identify with yourself, your pain, your personal problems or your mental state. Many people will tell you that you are just overwhelmed by being a working mother and that it will all be okay. People will tell you that you are not really depressed, you are just having a bad day.
Everyone pushes you to keep moving, keep going, keep pushing, harder and harder…until what? For how long?
When we mention to someone that we think we need some time to ourselves they laugh and make a joke like “Yeah, you will have a day to yourself when the kids are grown!”
I have seen posts on Mommy blogs that appear to be pleading desperately for help. When I read them, the Moms sound desperate for someone to hear them. Not just to listen…but to hear. The posts I have read sound desperate and depressed. They are full of anxiety as well as physical and mental exhaustion.
The mothers talk about not being able to have friends because they do not have time and are too exhausted by the end of the day to chat. They are so tired of dealing with everything. Tired of solving other people’s problems. Tired of one crisis after another, Crisis at work. Crisis at home. Crisis at the kids’ school. Crisis with the husband.
The crisis that the friend calls about on the phone just sounds ridiculous when the friend is saying “I am so upset, My good shoes got chewed by the dog, I have NOTHING to wear out to dinner with Dan on Friday. Can I borrow your red ones?”
This becomes a break in communication of the friendship. Mary has been taking care of crisis after crisis. Real Ones. Her daughter has the chicken pox. Her husband is working late and no one is available to pick up Timmy at practice, because the husband was supposed to do it.
Now she has a sick kid that she has to drag into the car to get the other child. In the mean time her boss is calling and asking if she can come in an hour early tomorrow. She has not even gotten a babysitter for tomorrow yet for the sick child that has to stay home from school.
The husband now calls again and asks her to pick up dinner, since she has to go out to get Timmy anyway. She tries to tell him that the little girl is sick and she can’t drag her around to pick up dinner in addition to picking up Timmy at practice. This starts an argument because the husband says “I worked all day. The least you can do is pick up dinner.”
She is now wondering how that can be counted as the “least she can do” while the little sick girl is now crying because she has to get out of her sick bed to get into the car…the boss calls again and threatens her job if she does not come in early…the coach from the basketball team now calls and tells her she is late to pick up the boy…
This is the life of a working mother. There is constant turmoil and too much to do. There is often threat of her losing her job because she is trying to take care of the family too. Kids get sick. Husbands work late and cannot stay home with sick kids or go pick up Timmy at basketball.
Or maybe there is no husband at all… and we don’t let Timmy play basketball because there is no way to coordinate getting him to games and still keep our job. The boss could give a crap about what goes on with your kids. It is not a good excuse to call out when your kids is depressed and you are worried about their mental state. You have to go to work anyway.
You worry about the kids while you are at work. Sometimes the anxiety is so severe that your work performance and coworker interactions are affected.
If you cut back your work hours to spend more time with the kids, then you worry about the money. You are now not a good mother because the kids are going without things. But if you work too much then your preteen kid might become depressed and anxious. The next thing that happens is the guidance office is calling you from school and telling you that you should spend more time with your children.
Everyone demands. Everyone judges. Your mother in law, your sister, the teacher, the guidance counselor, the pediatrician, other mothers who are not in your situation.
The supervisors at work want more and more. You should come in when your coworker calls out because she stayed out too late partying last night. You should stay late at work and leave your kids to eat alone again, because someone else did not get work done and now you are the one to finish it for them.
If you are still reading then this might be you. The problem is that people will blow off your feelings, when you say that you need a break. You can’t keep up. You feel depressed, and overwhelmed. You are having severe anxiety and no one is listening.
No one seems to be listening …not even to the well written blog posts…
You only get “yes, I get depressed sometimes too” …or “You will be fine, You are a strong woman”…or “This made me laugh! It sounded like you were actually serious at first but I saw the humor in all of the turmoil of the day you were describing.”
Even if you have never had a mental illness before, this level of chronic stress can cause it.
There has to be a breaking point. You need to find some relief from the anxiety before you become too mentally damaged. It is not for anyone to know but yourself. Only you know when you cannot take anymore. Only you know when you need help.
It is not for other people to tell you that you will be okay. It is not for other people to tell you that it is really not that bad. They are not inside of your head. They are observing you from the outside and they have no idea what thoughts go around in your head. Only you really know what your brain is telling you and whether or not it can tolerate any more, without getting help.
If you need mental help, then reach out somehow. This life of a working mother, single mother can be overwhelming even to the strongest and bravest of women. You do not have to prove anything to anyone.
I felt moved to write this post after reading a few single mother and working mother blogs. The people who commented on the posts just did not see the true mental suffering that I saw. People are crying out for help and not being heard.
It is a matter of finding the right place for help. If you keep trying you will find a way to get mental help and find and outlet for some of your suffering. You need to be heard and validated, about how you are feeling.
My thoughts are with the single mothers and the working mothers this evening. Many of you had past trauma, abuse and mental damage even before you ended up here.
Those things are still there and now they are being buried under this work, work, work, do, do, do, lifestyle. No one can sustain it forever.