"I love my children. I hate my life"

Sara - posted on 07/19/2010 ( 44 moms have responded )

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In the recent New York Magazine cover story "I Love My Children. I Hate My Life," writer Jennifer Senior tackles the tough topic of parental happiness.

She writes that while many parents say raising a child is a privilege that adds meaning to their lives, research shows parents are often more depressed and less happy than nonparents.

Her article set off a firestorm in online message boards in and blogs, with many critical of those who felt dissatisfaction with raising a child.

"Parenting is a selfless and lifelong vocation, and you must recognize that fact before you commit to becoming a parent,""judithod" commented on the article on nymag.com.

Others tried to figure out the root of the unhappiness.

The Motherlode's Lisa Belkin argues it may be connected it to the "helicopter parenting" phenomenon.

"Now that parenting has become a verb — an active, measurable, competitive thing — it brings with it an infinitely expanding job description. We create one for ourselves, different from our neighbors’, or even our partners’, but always broader than the ones our parents used decades ago. We recognize it as helicoptering when we see others do it, but from the inside it feels like what a good parent does." she writes. "And it is, in part, what is making us overwhelmed and unhappy.

Stephanie Wilder-Taylor suggested unhappiness could stem from unreasonable expectations. "I think the problem is how you go into parenting with these high expectations. It's supposed to be fun every minute of the day and it's such a rude awakening," she said. "Getting those kids dressed in the morning can sometimes be an extremely tedious experience. Unlike other jobs, you don't ever really punch out."

Click here for the TODAY video where Senior and psychotherapist Gail Saltz discuss the controversial article.

What do you think? Did having a child make you unhappy?

http://community.todaymoms.com/_question...

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Krista - posted on 07/19/2010

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That's the thing: there seems to be this weird vibe out there that you're supposed to be deliriously happy with every single aspect of being a parent. That if you're not basically LIVING for your child 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then you're being selfish and a bad parent. You're supposed to give up your job, your sex life, your sleep, your sanity, your privacy, and any desire or want that you have that does not serve your little one -- or else you are "selfish". I've seen people online call desperately sleep-deprived mothers selfish because they can't bedshare anymore. I've seen people online call mothers "selfish" for giving up breastfeeding after 6 bouts of mastitis and perpetually raw, bleeding nipples.

There's this weird expectation out there that when you become a mother, that is ALL that you are. Every other aspect of your life is supposed to disappear and become irrelevant, or else you are being selfish.

Jenny - posted on 07/21/2010

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I don't really enjoy children, I never thought I'd have any. I don't fawn over babies and I'm not obsessed with my own. I love my kids to the moon and back and I am so proud of them but my life is not going to take a backseat because of them and it doesn't have to.



If we want to do something my kids are going to have to adapt and come with. They've been camping since three months old. I need to have a job to keep myself mentally stimulated. I started out bookkeeping and am currently learning drafting. I love to learn and it keeps me happy and fulfilled. I chose to work PT to give my family a nice balance between time together and a satisfied mom.



Some SAHM I know only talk about their kids when chatting with adults. They just don't have anything else going on. I don't enjoy talking about pregnancy stories constantly or comparing stats. I'm glad your kids make you happy but I need more than that in my life.



So while my lifestyle hasn't changed much my entourage has lol. The hardest part for me is not having an option to be alone when I want to be. Sometimes I just want to lie on my bed and read a book without anyone driving cars all over me. I want to come home from the grocery store without a two year old having a temper tantrum because he wants cheese bread NOW. Let me put the damn bags down and take my shoes off please.



In my family we are all equally important and we have to ensure the needs of everyone are met and some of our wants too.

Isobel - posted on 07/21/2010

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Let's try this a different way...I think that the reason some women are unhappy and feel the pressure to be something other than themselves and sacrifice themselves to motherhood (which is entirely unnecessary because having your own time and pleasures etc makes you a BETTER mother) is because some judgmental women out there run around telling them that they are bad mothers, that they are selfish...which simply isn't true.

Nothing makes me more angry on COM (and I think some of you have witnessed this) than women tearing other women apart for having feelings that are different than theirs. If you don't breastfeed, your a bad mother, If you use CIO you're a bad mother, If you DON'T use CIO, you're a bad mother...if we could all just learn to accept that mothers ALL want what's best for their kids and not everybody is going to agree, the world would be a better place.

Jane - posted on 07/19/2010

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My kids are 20 and almost 17 now so I'm in what I call the "home stretch" of parenting. It doesn't mean I don't worry any longer because I don't think and from what I hear, it ever stops. However, two more years of high school and I'm on my way to being a parent to two adult children.

For me, parenthood has been a happy experience. 100% happy? Heck no...that is an unrealistic expectation or statement. I've divorced my children's father so that wasn't a happy experience. I got into a new relationship, my kids had to get used to their step dad and that was challenging. However, in the end, everything worked out...I and my husband get along with my ex extremely well, he comes to our home for holidays, birthdays, etc. But in the beginning, I thought it was horrible....trying to keep the kids from thinking it was their fault, blah, blah, blah (yeah, I went off topic...sorry).

The reason why I have never been unhappy like they talk about in the article is because I have always believed that my kids did NOT come first. Through my entire parenting life, I have always put ME first....because a happy me makes for happy children and husband. Does this mean that I spent money on me instead of them...no! Does it mean that I spent all my free time alone? No!!! What it did mean was making time for me every day...whether that was a bath, 1/2 an hour in my room reading alone. It meant a weekend without my kids with just my husband once every few months and a date night every couple of weeks. It also meant never letting children sleep in my bed/room (this was huge for me - LOL) because they had their own beds and bedroom.

It's all about balance. I still ran around like a chicken with my head cut off for basketball, football, cheerleading, music lessons, band concerts and trips, youth sympony's, driving them here and there, helping with homework, parent/teacher conferences...all of it. I felt like a taxi driver. But I also did all of the above AND worked a full time job.

My kids are AWESOME and honestly say I did a great job as a parent so I feel pretty good about things.

I do believe there is all the competition on how to be a supermom/dad. That's the problem...it's not a simple life anymore. We do so much with our kids...trying to make them into super children, doing all kinds of extra-curricular stuff that it makes for very stressed out parents. We really need to get back to basics which is a healthy amount of extra curricular, family time and parent time!

Isobel - posted on 07/21/2010

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and if you are that arrogant, you shouldn't be allowed to raise offspring either...but thanks for the input.

This conversation has been closed to further comments

44 Comments

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Stifler's - posted on 07/26/2010

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It made me unhappy. It's still making me unhappy not knowing what is wrong with my kid, not being able to breastfeed, not being able to shop alone, wondering if he's still breathing in the night, waking up all through the night, never having a day off, also listening to other people crap on about how having kids is the best thing that ever happened to them. I wish I felt that way but I don't. I wish I finished uni first and got married first and owned our own home not just rented.

Tah - posted on 07/22/2010

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The one thing that could contribute being unhappy when you lose yourself. You can't forget who you are and what you love to do, paint, write, read, bass jump, whatever, you have to make time for something for you to keep a balance, when your world revolves around your children 24/7 and you lose that interaction with other adults and lose touch with thing that make you happy outside of being a mom, then that may be where the unhappiness comes in. Call me selfish or whatever you like, but having my career, and time for myself like to go do karate, or sit and read a couple chapters of a book, time with the husband away from the constant mom mom mom, shoot..going to class for a couple hours.....keeps me happy..and if the Queen is happy..then so is everone else..

Lea - posted on 07/22/2010

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Thx for the apology Laura. I posted my own struggle with mental illness and I just happened to go to a (very well respected but controvertial) doctor that insisted that people choose to be unhappy and made fun of me and made me get worse. Apparently hes helped a lot of people but also made a lot of people worse. I found an even better doctor after that thank God. At this point I still stand behind what I said but I think that being depressed means that life is empty, you feel no connection, you feel like a victim of life and just want the pain to stop. I think that some women could feel like that if they had to put their children before themselves especially if they got nothing in return and were treated like crap by their husband. For me, whats helped immensely lately is finding a really good church. Its a source of joy and a source of emotional and practical support. Since I've become a Christian parts of me that were missing have appeared and all around me I see people just like I used to be and I want to help them because I have totally changed what I thought before and I do think the only real way to move out of depression, addiction, or just an unsatisfying or shallow life is to have a higher power and a supportive community around you.

[deleted account]

Riana - It is not always the case that people choose to be unhappy - MOST people want to be happy, it is not fun being unhappy. Situations affect people's happiness some people deal with negative situations by finding the positives others do not. Depression is caused by a chemical change which affects the way the brain works so people CANNOT choose to be depressed, which is a form of severe unhappiness. While I agree that external things cannot make you happy and happiness is something you get from within I do disagree that people choose to be unhappy!

[deleted account]

Having my little girl was the best thing that could ever happen to me. I was a really stupid girl during my teenage years, and having Winter has made me see the reality of it all. I think that if I didn't have her, then I would be in a really bad place right now.

But I do hate what is going on with my life. Going through a rough time and depression and such. But I know that it is definitely not my daughter that causes this. And I love her to pieces. So I wouldn't change a thing. Except the strength of my anti-depressants. Maybe. :/

Myloe - posted on 07/21/2010

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I agree with many people here. I love my daughter and I love being a mom. However, I do feel like there is so much pressure to be a "great mom" that sometimes it is very hard. It feels like every tiny decision I make could change her whole life as an adult. I know I put some of that pressure on my self but I also believe society, tv, other moms (friends, moms, mothers in law, etc.) and others bring that pressure to bear on moms.

Isobel - posted on 07/21/2010

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I guess I still am a little bitchy...those are my numbers



what are yours? since you were the one to bring it up

Isobel - posted on 07/21/2010

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I was bitchy today, and I apologize...
Your Posts Are
754 helpful
693 funny
121 nice
260 encouraging

I can see that A LOT of people find you helpful and funny...

Lea - posted on 07/21/2010

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LMAO!!! hilarious... that must be why I get so many alerts that people think my posts are funny and/or helpful. the only rude comment I see here is Laura's :P

Riana - posted on 07/21/2010

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I think people will keep on being uphappy for as long as they expect other people to make them happy! Being happy is a choice that you and only you can make regardsless of your kids, spouse, circumstanses or finances. It's a state of mind. Children can't magically turn unhappy people into happy people. Unhappy people have choosen to be uphappy and should stop trying to blame this choice on someone/something else.

Parenting and happiness is completely unrelated but happy people are able to enjoy their kids more.

Sara - posted on 07/21/2010

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Hey, everyone, let's cool off. This is not helpful to the discussion so let's move on please.

Sara B.
DM Mod

Isobel - posted on 07/21/2010

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ahhh, see? you are new here...almost everything Lea says is judgmental and rude...but that's just MHO

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@Laura Paura: I don't see how the previous comment was offensive. She said NEEDS not wants. Ice cream is a want, so telling your kids there isn't any is probably not going to hurt them. On the other hand, if your kids need you and you say, "F that, I'm going out tonight," then you are not a good mother. She didn't insult you personally, she was just giving her opinion, like the rest of us.

Lea - posted on 07/21/2010

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I should count how many times I've said on this site, being a mom means putting your kids needs before your own and if you aren't comfortable with that you will be miserable and probably not a very good mom.

[deleted account]

I absolutely adore my boys, before afternoon nap time! After that y'all can take my 3 yr old! I absolutely can not wait until they are older!!! I'm sure at such a time I may, possibly, wish they were younger again, but I think if that happens I'm just being delusional! Just like we are when we think that life before kids was all puppies and rainbows :) I'm very glad that the life I had before kids is over! And when I get my youngest out of diapers I will be VERY glad!!! I'm pretty sure I will never think "boy I miss changing those diapers..." or buying them! or having to smell them!!! ahhhh... not to say that some of those times aren't the best in the world...for some reason I have the cutest little picture in my head of my oldest standing up looking out the window with his cute little diaper butt... :) Just the same :) I was happyish (had my good & bad days) before kids, I'm happyish now...still having good and bad days...and I'm sure I'll be happyish later! Generally speaking I am mostly happy! I love my boys to death! I look forward to each and every day I will spend with them, as I looked forward to having them before they came into my life! Before kids, I looked forward to the one day I would have them, I lived for that day. Now I live for teaching them everything they need to know so they can bring me grandbabies :P

[deleted account]

Sleepless nights,feeling like you want to pull your hair out,times of worry and times of feeling like you want to run away&all your friends have gone lol are all part of being a mom,i think its only normal to find out its not a bed of roses but thats the joys of it,my children can bring me to tears as quick as the can make me laugh.I gave up thinking about what i had before them or what i could be doing now if i didnt have them but life goes on in a whole different and wonderful new way, and having kids doesnt mean you have to loose who you are to. Find a healthy balance and still do things that make you happy while still being mom.Would be my advice and thinking.:-)lol

Sara - posted on 07/20/2010

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I think it great that everyone says that they love being a mommy and wouldn't trade it for the world, I feel that way too. I can't imagine my life now without my DD. However, I also don't think there's anything wrong with admitting that it's not always puppy dogs and rainbows. Sometimes parenting SUCKS. I can admit that. I do it, gladly, but don't think I don't sometimes lament about what I'm giving up a little or have given up. That's not selfish, that's just being human.

[deleted account]

I knew that I was ready to be a parent when I didn't really care about going out with my friends or partying (I actually HATE college parties). Now that I am a parent, sometimes I feel that I missed out on those things. Would I turn back the hands of time and try again? Not on your life. I think that when people say they miss doing x, y, and z they are forgetting how they felt about those things before. Now that they are no longer able to, it makes those things seem desirable.

I LOVE my daughter with every breath in my body. Parenting makes me the happiest I have ever been, as the thought of not being one makes me cry. It is a selfless job, but that doesn't mean that EVERYTHING about it is selfless. I give a lot to my DD but I sneak alone time, too. When she naps, do I clean the house? Not every time. Sometimes I do what I want to do. I think some people forget that.

Annmarie - posted on 07/20/2010

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Yes, I love my children and no regrets on having our large blended family. There are times I feel exhausted and frustrated being responsible for the fates of 6 children. Today everything is blamed on poor parenting. I didn't see a manual pop out when they were born, so we do our best. Society puts pressure on parents to be perfect. Our children may be independent, but also drain us emotionally daily. I do find myself counting the days to personal freedom, but most people would shame me for that. The weight can be unbearable sometimes. I still put 100% into being a good parent everyday and live in fear that every decision I make could be the wrong one!

[deleted account]

How can you not be happy.I live each day with the most incredible kids in the world my gosh id be a miserable cow if i didnt have my kids.lol.My life became full when i had my kids,there all the happiest i could never want and everything else seems of less importance to me,as long as there happy i am happy.I agree with sharon how another mother feels is on them and i am sorry to hear the dont love there life as my life is my children,i live for them.

Amie - posted on 07/19/2010

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I think some people aren't cut out to be parents. I think some over think it. I think some don't have the backbone to stand up for their parenting style. I think for most though it is that they forget it's about balance.

I am a helicopter parent as this article says. I also still take time for myself. I still take time for my husband and for our relationship. I am still here 100% of the time for my children, the same way I am 100% there for myself, for my husband and for our relationship. It takes shuffling and scheduling for some aspects of it but we're happy. We're busy but we're happy. =)

Johnny - posted on 07/19/2010

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Having a happy parent builds character in a child. If the parent gives up everything for their child, then that kid learns to be selfish. And having a happy person rearing you gives you an understanding of what it takes to make yourself happy. Where ever you go there you are. If you aren't happy as a parent, you probably wouldn't be happy not being a parent. It only comes from within. Some sacrifice is good, it builds character in yourself, shows the kid how to give, and helps you remember and appreciate the things you do have. Too much sacrifice just makes parents miserable and the kids spoiled.

Now, there are some people who just could never be happy giving up the bare basics that are required to parent a child (time, love, food) and they should find a way not to parent.

I love being a mom. I loved being single. And I loved being newly married & childless. I have suffered bouts of severe depression, generally as a result of "female" hormone imbalances. So I refuse to tolerate being less than happy, unless physically forced to do so. And my daughter is very happy, smiley and "funny" so I think it's going just fine.

Sharon - posted on 07/19/2010

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I make myself happy. I enjoy having kids and I'll be sorry to see mine go back to school.

How someone else feels is on them. I'm happy. My kids are happy.

♏*PHOENIX*♏ - posted on 07/19/2010

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For many moms like my self, having children is thee best thing; it makes your life worth living and gives you purpose. It is a privilege to be the Apple of your Childs eyes, to be the center of their world, and vise versa.
But I have come to realize (and this was hard for me to wrap my brain around at first) that there are mothers who love and would kill for there child, they adore there children…any yet they do wish they would have waited or they do regret that they had kids before they could “live” and some of the time they do selfish things thinking of only themselves.
I believe the ones that are depressed and sad and regretful are the ones that didn’t transition properly. Us, mothers make motherhood look easy…Yeah we may complain that we have no “Me” time and haven’t had “Alone” time with our partners, and haven’t been on a date in forever..ECT,ECT, ECT …..don’t get me wrong the people that are around us without kids see that it is hard, but at the end of they day they give us kudos…they are like “You handled your business, and you do it well” (In so many words) but until they have there own they don’t truly understand that being a parent is (to me) one of the biggest and most important thing you will ever do…and with that comes great sacrifice…and sometimes people just cant transition as well….

[deleted account]

i think its definitly or has to be a selfless job to be a mom and wife.. b4 kids and hubby, i got mani pedi every two weeks, i would go out 4 nights in a row.. i was def into all the lastest fashions, and or clothes.. i bought all the newest and coolest stuff.. now after 6 yrs of marriage and two boys.. i gave that up to be a wife and mother.. and i wouldnt trade it for my selfish ways.. motherhood andmarriage taught me to be that glue in my family, like my mom, and i am proud of that.. and so is my husband.. as i am proud of him for being a hard working man.. i love my life right now..im very sure of myself and not ashamed.. i am where i am supposed to be..

*Lisa* - posted on 07/19/2010

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I think it's ridiculous to say 'Parenting is a selfless and lifelong vocation, and you must recognize that fact before you commit to becoming a parent'. How can anyone know that before becoming a parent???? It's something you find out AFTER all the excitement of giving birth and people crowding you wanting to see your new baby. It's only after the hype wears off that the reality sets in. And as much as we all love our kids, it would be unreasonable to have those expectations of being a happy chappy 24 hours a day. Especially as sleep deprived and 'me' time deprived as we can be. No one can function under those conditions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without struggling at some point. It's normal to struggle and I think it's good that women are voicing their feelings so others won't go in to parenthood thinking it's EASY.
On the other hand, there's a fine line between struggling with parenting on and off, and being truly depressed. I would never go as far to say as 'I hate my life'. How can you love your children but hate your life? Your kids are so much a part of your life that in a way, you are saying you hate that they are in your life. Women who have reached the point of hating their life have passed the point of normal parental struggling and need counseling IMO (I don't mean that in a mean way).

Isobel - posted on 07/19/2010

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I have no depression around parenting...and here's my secret...Sometimes I lie to the kids, tell them there's no ice cream left and then eat it after they've gone to bed ;P

Just joking (well...not really), but I am pretty selfish, I enjoy my alone time as much as I enjoy my time with them.

And Sara, I feel your pain, nothing was worse to me than having to talk to some stranger I would never talk to in a million years because out kids were friends and we got thrown together at a party, but take heart...soon you'll be able to drop her off and leave :D

Lyndsay - posted on 07/19/2010

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Hmm. Having my son gave me something to look forward to in life, whereas before I had nothing. I think my anxiety level is definitely higher, because I never cared about anything before him. I dropped out of school, I did drugs and partied all day, I really didn't give a damn about anything.. the only thing that crossed my mind was where to get my next cigarette. Nowadays, I have to think of my son's wellbeing, what to make for dinner, what I need from the grocery store, buying Aaron new shoes or clothes, getting to work on time every day so I don't get fired, etc. etc. But, in the end, I think its all very rewarding and I'm glad I'm a mom. (Don't plan to have more kids though... too many things to worry about with just one.)

Hannah - posted on 07/19/2010

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I too am a happy mom but I will be completely honest, there are times when I am downright unhappy. I feel like I could give up. The overwhelming feeling sometimes takes control. Then I look at my kids and know that I could never give up. I love them too much. I do everything, even when I don't want to because I love them.

Joanna - posted on 07/19/2010

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I still deal with my normal unhappiness, the kind I've been living with since I was a teenager I guess, the kind that comes with battling depression and social anxiety. I had many happy moments growing up, and being a single adult female having fun. But my daughter has given me the happiest moments I could ever ask for. Her smile to me is a million times better than any night of drinking with friends could have given me before kids. Am I unhappy a lot? Sure am. How many of us have been 100% happy on days where we're going on 2 hours of sleep with a baby attached to us whining all day when all we want is 5 minutes alone? But would I change any of it to be 100% happy all the time? Hell no. Because my daughter is the world to me.

Tara - posted on 07/19/2010

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Nope, but I imagine if I didn't have the "good enough mom" philosophy I might feel differently.

I'm happy being a mom because I know I"m more than a mom. I also know that I am good enough because my kids are happy, joyful, confident, intelligent, trustworthy, helpful, charitable, and many other wonderful qualities. I raise them to be thinkers, to make good decisions, I set a good example and I let them live their lives. We homeschool and I think this makes a difference in the way I view my role as a mother. I am here to guide my children, not to control them. I am here to help them to help themselves. I am here to teach them to teach themselves, there's a theme to our life, it's do for yourself if you can, if you can't then have someone teach you, and then practice.
I also don't have any unrealistic expectations (not anymore, not after 6 kids!!!). I am reasonable, I don't sweat the small stuff and I know that everything is transitory. It will all pass in time. I'm happy not because I'm a mom, but because of the mom I am.
:)Tara

Rosie - posted on 07/19/2010

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i love having my boys. i am unhappy in a way, because i would love more time with my husband, more time with my friends, and could do without the everlasting feeling of tired.
but the joy that my children bring to me outweighs any unhappy feeling that i may have. i love coming home from work being greeted by 3 of the cutest boys i've ever seen, all screaming mommy, mommy ,mommy!!! i wouldn't trade it for the world!

[deleted account]

I am happier now than before I became a mum but that is because I was told that I could not have children and was grieving for that loss - then I got pregnant. But I do have frustrations and would love some more time to myself :-)

Sara - posted on 07/19/2010

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One of the things that I find exhausting about raising children is having to step out of my comfort zone with people that I know I would never want to socially interact with in a million years if it were just me.



With a child, I have to spend much more time around people and participate in activities and give my child a social life. It is something I secretly dread and for me, it is the biggest sacrifice in having children. When I am on my way to, yet another, dinner, function, birthday party etc., I do sometimes dream of just not having to go. Because it's really my child's life I am living, not mine.



I think most mother's would agree that their children are worth it. Mine is, but that doesn't always make it easy

[deleted account]

I agree with Laci, I am extremely happy to be a parent and can't believe how wonderful my son is. I've never felt love like this but I do have some frustrations about not being able to go out with friends, not having as much money for myself, etc.

I do think we set very high expectations on ourselves as parents and that incredibly high standards that most of the time can't be achieved are what are weighing us down the most.

LaCi - posted on 07/19/2010

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My kid makes me extremely happy.

Things relating to having a kid that make me unhappy: Responsibility, little alone time with the boyfriend, Very little "me" time, being broke all the time, not being able to do what I want when I want to, having to choose between stuff for nico or a haircut-which I haven't had in 2.5 years, Not having time to fix my hair-EVER, tantrums, losing time with friends because what single non-breeding person in their right mind wants to hang out with a toddler all day? I sure wouldn't, watching PBS cartoons all day, and some other things.

Even though the dissatisfaction list is long, I think the happy and unhappy balance out into the same level of happy I was at before parenting. Just happy and unhappy in different ways.

[deleted account]

Not at all. I've never wanted anything more from life than to be a mom since I was 14. Being a SINGLE mom.... now that is the part I hate. Doing it 100% on your own sucks!

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