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The Trouble With Motherhood

83 replies

Rhubarb · 23/10/2002 22:50

I thought I would start this topic as I feel really fed up right now! As some of you will know, dd wasn't planned and I have had a hard time adjusting to motherhood. She is now 2 and it is getting worse than ever. Don't get me wrong, I love her to pieces and will never regret having her, we share such a strong bond and she is an absolute joy to be with (most of the time!). It's just everything else that comes with motherhood.

The toddler groups, the group outings to farms, generally mixing with other mothers and kids. I always thought toddler groups must be such a nightmare, I never used to have any contact with kids as a rule as I didn't really like them. I didn't know how to react to them or what to say to them and they generally irritated me. Now I find that I am living my worst nightmare and going to toddler groups every week, even having children back at my house! I loathe doing this, I do it because she needs friends and my love for her overrides my own thoughts and feelings on this. But I find that I am becoming very depressed and down about it all.

Me and dh have just come back from a holiday and whilst it was very nice, we realised just how much our lives have had to change. We could no longer go or do what we wanted to, we had to think of her and what she wanted to do. We couldn't go off backpacking to remote villages, we couldn't do anything on the spur of the moment as we had to pack her lunch, change of clothes, sleeping ted, buggy, etc. We couldn't even have an evening out on our own. As a baby she would sleep in the buggy, but not this time! As soon as we sat down for our meal she would want to get up and sit on mummy's knee, eat what mummy was eating and have a play. Many nights we spent in our hotel room staring glumly at the walls.

Then we came back and I took her on a group outing to an animal farm. It was a nightmare! Being with so many other people and their kids was just not me. I'm not a group person and I hated every minute of it! The kids were boisterous and running around (as kids do I guess), the mums were being, well mums, but something just made me want to scream and kick "get me out of here"! I feel that I am losing my identity. I am being forced to adopt a role that I am just not used to. And to be totally honest, I have thought about just walking away, walking and walking to god knows where, just to get away. I know that sounds awful, but I am getting really depressed and I don't know what anyone can do about it or where I can turn. I have told my HV who referred me to HomeStart, but I don't see what they can do. I'm just not cut out to be a mother. Please tell me that I'm not alone in thinking like this.

OP posts:

WideWebWitch · 23/10/2002 23:00

Rhubarb, you're not alone, no time to post more now as I am desperate for some sleep but will try to write more tomorrow sometime.


Clarinet60 · 23/10/2002 23:07

Rhubarb, you're not alone. In the Bad Mother Brigade thread a few weeks ago I explained that this was exactly how I felt - I loved them madly, but I just wanted to walk away. I needed a break. I have just come out of this phase (more or less) and feel much better now, but it does feel like a trap sometimes, you're not alone. It sounds like you need a complete break. Could grandparents help? I don't know about homestart, but it's worth a try. Keep telling yourself that this toddler phase will soon pass. They grow up all too quickly. Feeling that you're not cut out for motherhood is normal from time to time, but it is also, if overwhelming, a symptom of depression. Could you talk to your HV or GP again?
I think we expect too much of ourselves these days. Now that you have reached the point of writing your feelings down, you may start to feel better. I found that talking about it a lot helped.


prufrock · 23/10/2002 23:07

Oh Rhubarb no you are not. But listen to yourself - "my love for her overrides my own thoughts and feelings" what more can you do?
I still hate other kids. The daily trip to pick dd up from nursery fills me with dread as I always seem to time it so that I have to walk through about 20 toddlers filling the corridor. I also tend to be quite a solitary person most of the time, and only went to one mother and baby group. It was hell on earth.
What does dh?p? do- Does he like being with kids - if so could you swap roles sometimes? Do you work? have you considered it? I didn't readanything in the mothers job description that said I had to totally give up my own identity - if so I woudl never have taken on the job.


Cecilia · 23/10/2002 23:16

Just because you have children, doesn't mean you have a complete personality change and start liking different things - you are still you. I don't think there is one perfect cardboard cut-out mother-figure. I have just had my third child and feel much more content with who I am as a person than I did 14 years ago when I had my first child. To put it very simplistically, it has been a slow dawning realisation that it doesn't matter that I don't find making play dough easy or enjoyable! However, there are things I do enjoy sharing together such as cooking. I don't necessarily think people are 'cut-out' to be mothers. Like any other relationships, it develops and involves various compromises, although this is less easy when your children are as young as 2. Don't beat yourself up about not enjoying certain things but think that you are doing something for your dd. You do also need to do things you enjoy both with your dd and separately. Ideally, you read a book you both enjoy but sometimes you read her favourite and sometimes its yours. I'm sorry if this sounds facile and I hope it helps in some way.


ScummyMummy · 23/10/2002 23:55

You're definitely not alone in thinking this, babes. I think almost every mother goes through that feeling of being completely subsumed by their children to some extent. But you ARE cut out to be a mother, Rhubarb. You're quite clearly a great one- it screams out from every post I've ever seen you write. Depression does not a bad mother make. So sorry you're having a bad time right now, though.

What do you think would help? What needs to happen so that you can feel that you haven't lost your identity? Are you getting any time on your own? Are you spending enough time with dh? Do you want to work? I think it can be helpful to think these sorts of questions through a bit and start taking tiny tiny steps to change things slightly.

Lots of cyber love to you. Hope you start feeling better soon.


LiamsMum · 24/10/2002 03:08

Rhubarb, I can't believe you've posted this when I have been feeling exactly the same way. I have been in tears the last couple of days because of the whole 'motherhood' thing. DS is almost two and a half, and even though he's a good kid, he's very full-on at the moment and I find it 'unrelenting'. DS wasn't exactly a planned baby either, I was 34 and dh was 40 when ds came along, and before that we had a very free lifestyle together and like you, I wasn't all that fond of children. I went to my playgroup this morning and as I was sitting there with the other mums and all the kids running around, I literally couldn't believe I was there. For some people, it just isn't something you imagine yourself doing. I have also been depressed over the last week because dh still has to travel and has a very busy job, and even though I'm studying part-time, I'm starting to feel quite isolated and frustrated with my current lifestyle. DH suggested that maybe I need to go back to work (at least part-time), but what I think I really miss is our 'old life'. I love ds very much and I know you can't have your cake and eat it too, but I just want you to know I understand exactly how you feel.


karenanne · 24/10/2002 07:59

i know how you all feel seems today with all the celebrity mothers harping on about how perfect their lives are that we are failures if we admit its hard or that we have dd is two and a half and lets just say at the moment im finding it really difficult,i think its alot harder now then when she was a baby.dont get me wrong i love her to bits but it seems to be a very awkward age their not babies but not children either and as dd is quite advanced for her age she wants to do things that are to advanced for her to do.
ive never gone to a toddler group as its not my sort of thing im not really a group person but i do take dd out as much as i can ie swimming,the park,farms etc and its nice spending time together on our own ...we make it our special time ,we have days when we sit all morning and just draw or make things .
weve recently moved so dont know many people around here so i dont know of any parents in my area and the only mum and tots group is at the local a pagan thats not my sort of thing.
i work two and a half hours a day in the afternoon while my mum looks after dd so i do get out without her for a while and believe me i do miss it if i cant work for some may help to see if you can find some part time work it helps you feel that you are actually a person rather than just a mother.
but just know your not alone...i think at some point we all feel like you do.


SoupDragon · 24/10/2002 08:27

Rhubarb, I'm with you on this one! I an absolutely [email protected] with other people's kids - I just don't know what to say or do with them. I'm not that great with my own really.

Sometimes I feel like a jug full of water. When I geet rare time to myself, the stress (water!) starts to leak away but as soon as I get back with the children, it fills back up to the top and beyond.

I'm not a big "group" person either. I'd much prefer, for example, to go somewhere with my children alone where they could run off and play and leave me in peace for a bit! If I'm with someone else, I have to make conversation - something else I'm not good at.

Yes, we've realised the holiday thing. Last year, we had just one hotel room so when the kids went to be, we had to go to bed - some holiday! We also had to come back to the room when they wanted an afternoon nap and the balcony was [email protected] for sitting on. This year we forked out for a 1 bed suite - kids slept in the living room, we could then retire to the bedroom with large TV and also a garden out the back for sunbathing in Nap Time. Still not as good as when we used to go out and lurk in bars in the evening though...

Some times I want to run up the hill screaming "get me out of here" or lock myself in the shed where they can't find me. Other times, I just want to hold my sons whilst they sleep or snuggle up to their warm little bodies in our great big bed.

It doesn't help to see DH living an apparently unchanged life. I wish I had some magic answers...


kkgirl · 24/10/2002 08:58

I think it is because at 2 they are so demanding. They are over the baby stage and have become this little person who wants to do this and that and they have so much energy it is exhausting, and of course there is no time for relaxing and being yourself.
It sounds like you are exhausted and need a break which I know is hard. Have you any friends or relatives you could get to help or could you afford to pay a childminder just to have her for a few hours to give you a break. It isn't a cure for how you are feeling but it just gives you a chance away from the 100% mother routine.
I don't know what else to say to try to help but talking about how you feel is a start, you're not alone.
Let us know how you are feeling today.


Girly · 24/10/2002 09:17

I know exactly where your coming from Rhubarb, that feeling of wanting to run away from all this responsibility can be really overwhelming, its been bad for me this week too, a cocktail of pnd and pmt, so much so that i made dh take yesterday off sick so that he could take over the responsibilty for the day, and the relief was enourmous, am dealing with the guilt today.


kkgirl · 24/10/2002 09:24


Don't feel guilty about needing a day off. I find it strange that a lot of mums treat their dh (me included) as someone to help with the children.
They are the father of our children and we should be taking equal responsibility for them.
I used to feel terrible about leaving mine with dh if I needed to go shopping say for birthday presents or something like that (impossible with three boisterous little darlings), I used to feel so guilty that I almost wouldn't go and would rush around in a right state.
Why? We women are so uptight about admitting that we need help and support. I think we all need a medal for what we have to cope with.
Hope your day isn't too bad and don't feel guilty, forget about yesterday and just try and get through today.


Bozza · 24/10/2002 09:28

Although I do quite like children (was even an au pair in a previous existence) I understand the feeling of the child taking over your life. And had a big heart-to-heart with DH about it on Tuesday. And some of the mothers drive me mad! Yes your DD does need some socialisation but do you have to be with her? Can you enroll her in a class or nursery (I know she's a bit young) or get your DH or the HomeStart volunteer to take her.


Girly · 24/10/2002 09:30

You're absolutly right kkgirl, logically i know this, they are as much his as mine. So i will try to ignore the guilt and be positive. I think the root of the problem is that i'm hankering after the old me, with no responsibilty etc. Selfish i know.


Bozza · 24/10/2002 09:30

Girly - I agree. You were poorly (PND and PMT = poorly) so your DH needed to mind the children. If your children were with a childminder and the minder was poorly you would take time off work. No different.


kkgirl · 24/10/2002 09:55


I know how you feel, sometimes its an upward struggle isn't it, with no break. No, you're not being selfish, you have your needs as well, and when you are a mum they get bogged down under all the child caring, washing, ironing and all the other stuff.

This will sound terrible I know, but last year I had the chance to travel a bit with my job, and I really enjoyed going away for a few days, it was like a holiday, especially in the evenings when we went out for a meal, drink, laugh etc, and I didn't worry about the kids, poor old dh was stuck at home looking after them. And if I could have looked into the future, I never would have dreamed that I would have this job, travelling has stopped now, but it just gave me a little break.

As my mum would say, keep your chin up, and try to get some time out for yourself, even if it is only for a short time


Bumblelion · 24/10/2002 09:55

I think sometimes that people think they lose their identity when they have children but this doesn't have to be the case. I have 3 children and am now on my own and work part-time (2 days a week) and I find I love my work (even though I NEED to work as I need the money) - it gives me a chance to be myself and not just "muuuuuum" (you know how they call you with that whingy voice!). I also find it is good to get out and talk about something other than just children, babies, nappies, etc.

Although saying all this, I did like it when I was off work on maternity leave - it was nice to have time to get everything done rather than having my "rushed" evenings (especially Wednesday nights as I work Wednesdays and Thursdays) and have to be very organised for Thursday morning - although not as much now that H has left as my mum now comes to my house and gets the children ready for school - when H was still living there the two elder ones had to go to breakfast club and I had to have them up, dressed, washed, teeth cleaned - all befor I left for work ata 7:30 am. Now I leave them in bed and my mum gets them organised for me and takes them to school.


Harrysmum · 24/10/2002 10:09

Rhubarb, sorry you're having such a hard time. Ds is 2 as well and it's hard going. I am very glad that I go to work and don't have to be with mothers (no offence to anyone!) for ds to be with other children. On the other hand, working fulltime does mean that I don't really know any of his friends and their mums and it would be nice to have some social life with his peer group, to feel involved with that aspect of his life. It's all a question of balance I suppose and I think if I had to stay at home whilst dh went to work that would really reinforce how different my life was from how his managed to incorporate ds without any substantive difference. Is there scope for you to work part-time - as long as it covers the childcare cost/you break even then I think it's worth it - it means that you will be you even for a while. If it brings in extra so that you can go on holiday to places with child care choices so that you can balance holiday time with dd and grown up hliday time then that would be a bonus. We did that this summer and it was great and consoled ourselves that although it wasn't what we would have chosen had we not had ds at least in 2/3/4 years he will be easier to have in a city type setting or deep countryside like we used to do. I always said that I wouldn't think about having children before 30 so when ds came along at 26 it was a shock to the system - I do understand how you are feeling. Hope some of the ideas here help.


Girly · 24/10/2002 10:10

I wish i could have my cake and eat it, flick the switch, be me and mummy and wife and enjoy it all, I suppose this is what most people would want or am i living in cloud cuckoo land?

Rhubarb, don't mean to highjack your thread. Sorry


Jaybee · 24/10/2002 10:15

Rhubarb - I agree that it may be an idea to get yourself a job - even if you gain nothing from it financially - in your job you will be 'you' not xxxx's Mum, you will get your own friends and even get nights out without dd.
Could you not encourage a Grandma, Auntie or friend to have dd occasionally overnight or even for a weekend. You and dh could get out on your own or even whizz over for a City Break in Europe - make the most of some of these cheap flight deals. You will get a bit of your old life back and I will guarantee that you will miss dd like mad!!
Also, you say that you don't really enjoy Mums & Tots type meetings - don't go to them - could you not book dd into a local nursery or playgroup for a couple of afternoons a week (without you) - she will get to mix with other kids, build her independence, make friends etc. ready for school and you get a couple of afternoons off, go to the gym or for a swim!!!


Azzie · 24/10/2002 10:17

Rhubarb, my heart goes out to you - I have days/weeks when I feel just like you. I had never planned to be a mother, and some days I feel really cr*p at it - thank god for nursery, which has filled in for some of my shortcomings in the playdoh/painting/craftwork area.

All of the things dh and I used to do together before we had kids are things that you can't really do with a small child (hillwalking, caving, backpacking etc), and it does worry me that we don't do things together any more other than with the kids. Friends of ours (childless) are about to leave on a trip to Borneo and then NZ - I am sick with envy.

However, to look on the bright side: 2 is a particularly challenging age. Dearly though I love my kids, I can't say I particularly liked either of them at 2. One of the reasons that I will not have another child (although dh would like more) is that I can't face going through the terrible twos again (dd is just coming out the other side, fingers crossed).

My ds is now 5, and is much more rewarding. We have really interesting conversations now, and you can do so many more things. I would love to travel with him now (further than France!) because he would notice so much and probably see it with a different eye from me (can't face a long flight with dd yet, though). He's also old enough to go round and play at his mates' houses from time to time, to give me a bit of a break.

I think you're doing the hardest bit now, Rhubarb, and as your dd gets older it will get better (not much consolation now, I know, but something to look forward to). From all these messages you can see that you're not alone in how you feel, and you're certainly not a bad mother for feeling this way.

Lots of cyberhugs, and keep posting.


megg · 24/10/2002 10:32

Rhubarb it could have been me writing that post. I never planned to have kids and ds is now nearly 3. He's great but it seems like there is no time for me and then I feel selfish. If its not ds wanting to take up my time is dp. I went back to work 4 days a week and its bliss. I spent 2 years at home doing the toddler groups, coming home with a headache, going to the park, coming home with a headache and so it goes on. We've finally managed to find a babysitter so we do get to go out one night every couple of weeks which is a relief. I used to have a friend back with her boy whose the same age as mine and yes I ended up with a headache! Now we don't have time to see them as dp comes home Friday lunchtime so we do things together and as ds has had a busy week at nursery he seems to like doing the reading thing and quiet things. I love my ds to bits and don't want to be without him but like you its other people's kids and all the other stuff. I dreading the time ds is old enough to want a birthday part. I'll be the old lush in the corner with my bottle of wine praying that they all go away! Can't really offer much help except to say you're not alone and don't feel down. Is there any way you could get a job even for a couple of hours a day just so you have some time away not talking about dd?


Scatterbrain · 24/10/2002 10:33

Hi Rhubarb, Wow - you could have been me posting there last night !

As everyone else has said - 2 is a difficult, but lovely age and you sound like you do need to get some "ME TIME" back. If your little one isn't going to nursery yet do try that - dd would love it (mine can't wait to go and she's 2 too) and you could either just have some relaxing time or look for a part-time job. Anything would do - one of my friends who used to be a high powered city girl has just taken a Christmas job on the tills at Asda for precisely this reason. You just need to get away from the toddler scene and think about other things, never mind how mundane they are, for a while.

Happy mummies are better mummies and you deserve to still have a life. I was only thinking last night myself that my dd has taken over my life, in a way I have sacrificed my life for her when the intention was for her to add to and enrich my life ! Thinking back to my science days - it should be a symbiotic relationship whereas you and I, and lots of others are in more of a parasitic relationship right now. We've got to do something for ourselves now - the time has come !!

Big Cyber Hug, keep posting - we're all here for you !


Catt · 24/10/2002 11:02

Count me in too. I feel just like you Rhubarb. Not a day goes by when don't give a silent mental scream of "I don't want to be here!"

I remember Madonna once being asked if she did all the nappy changing, feeding, general running around after her daughter and she replied, "No, I just do the fun stuff with her like going shopping and lying on the floor laughing". I thought You lucky b*c, I wish I could just have the fun part of motherhood and not the drudgery.

But actually, I bet most of us wouldn't really want to be deprived of being the main carers for our children. It's the cliche to end all cliches, but here it is: Having children is the hardest, loneliest, most demanding, least rewarding thing I've ever done - and it's also the best, most rewarding, most fulfilling thing I've ever done. Go figure.


Janus · 24/10/2002 11:28

Rhubarb, I started a thread just like this a few months ago so know exactly how you feel. I'd spent the 6 years or so before I had my daughter travelling the world with a backpack on and no responsibilities. I found toddlerhood at times to be exhausting and I realised I just didn't have any time to myself (no family anywhere near, no babysitter, no friends I could feel I could dump (in the nicest way!) my daughter on for a couple of hours, etc and my whole life was devoted to my daughter. This is not actually something I could continue doing as I was bursting into tears during the day. I have finally enrolled my 2.3 year old into a nursery 2 mornings a week, she is starting next month (and I can watch my new bump grow and try to not panic!!!). The thought of having those few hours to myself is pure joy! I know it's expensive and I do feel guilty in some stupid way that we can afford to do this but for the sake of having a little bit of my sanity back I'm going to go through with it (helped by the fact that when looking around all the different nurseries my daughter cried each time we left!). If you can afford it (and I know that's a very big if) then a few hours a week at a childminder or nursery so you can just sit with a paper and a cup of tea (or a travel book and a chance to dream!) may work wonders.
Hope things get better and I really do think you need to do something for yourself too.


karenanne · 24/10/2002 12:11

my dp and i took dd away abroad for the first time in may this year.we spent all morning on the beach,afternoons back in our room while she slept and then finding somewhere to have dinner early so she didnt fall asleep at the table.then wandering round the town until dd fell asleep when we then beat a hasty retreat back to our room to put her to bed.
we were lucky enough to be able to go away again and came home last week .WOW what a difference we had so much fun,swimming in the big pool,drinks in bars in the evening,we still went to the beach in the morning and an hour in the room in the afternoon but dp and i even mananged a two hour hike/walk to a isolated cove over a mountain from our hotel.....our solution to toddlers on holiday ...take either your parents or the inlaws with you!it makes a world of difference!!!!!

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