I went through a very serious depression right when I got out of college. I have struggled with depression for most of my adult life. I've been on and off anti-depressants for years. I went on them in 1996 when the major depression hit and stayed on them until I wanted to try and get pregnant with my son. I was off of them through the entire pregnancy and after he was born until shortly after his birth (4 months) when my partner came to me and told me she didn't think she wanted to be in our marriage anymore. Between my marriage breaking up and my son's health issues, I went back on the meds and stayed on them until I wanted to get pregnant with The Girl. I have been off them since then, which I guess is almost three years at this point. My therapist and I have randomly talked about whether it is time to go back on them, and I have always said I didn't think I needed them. I was really happy in my life; there were just some issues. But not enough to make me want to medicate again.
See the issue for me with taking anti-depressants is that the ones that work for me (and believe me, back in 1996-1998 I tried pretty much all of them) make me not able to sleep. And that makes me crazy. So then I end up having to take something else to make me sleep. And...well it just becomes a slippery slope. So it isn't as easy as taking one pill and being done with it. One pill causes the need for another pill...and well... I really like NOT being medicated. I like only taking vitamins. I like not having all of that foreign stuff in my body. And again, if you were to ask me, I would tell you that I am happy. And I would mean it. So I haven't felt it necessary.
The hours between 5:00 and 8:00pm are the hardest for me. It has been a really long work day and then I have to get baths done, deal with dinner, cleaning up, bedtime etc... Granted I have my mom here with me to help (Monday through Thursday), but it's still a hard time of day. And I think she's right. During those hours of the day, I tend to be a bit grumpy. Again, I think of it as exhausted, not grumpy, but if I am snapping at the kids and not smiling and not enjoying them for the few hours I get to spend with them each day...what is the difference anyway?
I don't want to be a grump. I don't want to look back on this time and think that I missed out on the amazing little people that are my children. I don't want them to remember their Mommy as cranky. But I have to be realistic as well. Life isn't all smiles and hugs and joy. There are hours of the day when things need to get done and there isn't a ton of time for lounging and playing and fun. But still...I know inside my head that during the week these are the only real hours I get with my kids. I want to enjoy that.
I could end the post right there, but for my own records and for purposes of working things out in my own head, here's what we did tonight. This is pretty typical of an average work day:
Get home with The Girl around 5:00pm. Gigi was already here with The Boy. The Girl throws a fit because she doesn't want to get out of the car. I make a deal with her that she can go outside and play. We go in, say hi and I tell both of them they get to go outside. Much excitement (the weather has been crap and it was almost 80 here today!). While outside I go back and forth from the kitchen trying to prep dinner to the "Mommy!! I need..." "Mommy...come out and sit with me..." I spend some time on the bench swing with both of them, push The Girl in her car, bring The Boy his balance bike, prep fish and green beans and stuffed mushrooms and strawberries (kids) and set the table. We get dinner on the table. My step dad arrives and we all eat together. Dinner is nice and pleasant and we all joke and laugh. But I certainly wouldn't call it "relaxing," as anyone who has eaten dinner with a 5 year old and an almost-two-year-old can attest to.
After dinner my mom cleans up the kitchen while I clear the table and then put The Boy in the shower to wash the grass off of him. It itches his skin so he took a shower. I go to change The Girl's poopy diaper and put her in her jammies. She throws a fit because she wants to do it herself. Fine. I leave her on her changing table to attempt that and go tend to The Boy, who is calling me. While soaping up a washcloth for him to actually clean himself he tells me he thinks he needs to try and go poop. I ask him if he can wait a minute until he's out of the shower and he tells me that, yes, he can. As he is saying that a small plop of poop escapes out his bum and glides along the bottom of the bath tub. While running to get a paper towel to clean it, it proceeds to get all clogged and stuck in the drain. Charming. The entire time The Boy is saying, "Sorry Mommy...sorry Mommy..." I clean it up the best I can, get the wipes and clean HIM up the best I can and give him the wash cloth and tell him to clean his entire body. And focus on the bum while you're at it.
I sigh and walk back down the hall to The Girl who is standing on her changing table taking the pictures off the wall above. I lay her back down, force her legs into her jammies and get her down. She runs down the hall yelling that she wants to color. By this point my mom is done with the kitchen so she gets The Girl some paper and crayons. She lets her sit on the floor (I strap her into her chair at the table when she colors; no running around the house with crayons on my watch!). I go back to the bathroom, get The Boy out of his shower and take his jammies out and give them to him. Brush his hair, clean his ears and then we all go into the living room. The Girl is coloring, and my mom and The Boy sit on the couch to practice his words (speech therapy homework). I sit down and grab a magazine and exhale for a moment. Then The Girl runs down the hall with the crayons and comes back to tell me she colored on the floor. I grab it all from her, she throws a colossal fit. I proceed to clean the hallway crayon mess and my mom takes off.
The kids alternate between making an obscene amount of noise playing "band" and jumping on and off my lap pretending they are cuddling with me, but really just ripping my now defunct magazine and smashing into me. After about 20 minutes of this (all the while my patience is growing thinner and thinner...full disclosure...not my best time of night...) I say it's time for bed. I change The Girl's diaper, we read about 5 books and brush her teeth. She's all wound up from running around with her brother and "saying goodnight" to him about 5 times (hugs and a kiss--it's actually pretty cute), and doesn't even think of laying down in her bed when I put her there. I leave the room and she bursts into tears because she wasn't paying attention when I sang her the night time song (You Are My Sunshine). I put on a TV show for The Boy, and then go back into The Girl's room and sing to her one more time because I am hyper sensitive about "being grumpy" and I don't want her last thought of the evening to be one of abandonment.
And then I come out here to type this for you. In the middle of typing, The Boy's show ends and we brush teeth and he is now in his room with one toy and a flashlight. I feel equal parts thrilled that they are finally in bed, and sad that I wasn't as cheerful and fun as I could have been. I feel like I failed in all aspects.
How do you do it all? How do you take care of kids, run a business, and all the while keep a smiling happy face when you are really so tired you could lock yourself in your room and sleep for a year? I get a decent amount of sleep at night, so that's not it. I don't really know what "it" is. I just sort of thought that this was life. Until my mom said something tonight. And now I am stuck thinking about it. I am quizzing everyone I know about whether or not I am actually grumpy. I even asked The Boy (he said no and gave me a hug. I don't think he knows the definition of grumpy).
What about all of you out there? Did you make it through this long rambling post? Are you cheerful amongst the craziness of life with kids? Do you ever feel grumpy? Do you ever feel like you aren't appreciating life? Do you worry that you will look back and wish you did it differently? No? Huh. I guess it's just me. I must be grumpy. :)