When my son was young, I juggled working outside the home with mothering and homemaking. By the time he was four, I found it unsustainable and ended up in a psychiatric hospital for two weeks and then months in partial hospitalization spending my days in structured group therapy sessions. Since then I have been a full-time stay-at-home mother and wife, sometimes too overwhelmed to cook dinner.

Indeed I was and still am too tired and overwhelmed to cook, but the cleaning or lack thereof is partly a resistance on my part. Let’s face it, I hate housekeeping. I’m able to keep the house clean, but I hate doing so. My asthma and eczema get in the way, but even more so my intellect and proud stubborn nature do. I do not want to be a housekeeper. Mother, yes. Maid, no.

My greatest concern, my highest priority, is to be a good mother to my son. But a good housekeeper, nope. Neither job, motherhood or housekeeping, requires intellect. Neither garners much in the way of positive feedback from others. Should I dust, vacuum or do the laundry, my husband will notice and thank me. He is a decent guy. But, I never imagined I would be a stay-at-home mother. I always saw myself as a working professional with a nanny for child-care and maid-service to keep the dust bunnies at bay.

What happens when a once bright and promising student and professional is unable to maintain stability, to hold down an outside job while adequately parenting her child? The once straight-A student is now frustrated. I did attend seminary after my hospitalization, but as my diagnosis might predict, quit twice. First when we moved to Oregon, which destabilized and depressed me (seasonal affective disorder, too, great!), and a few years later when my husband was laid off during the recession, once again a destabilizing event.

Honestly, when I first realized that I was not “just” depressed (dysthymic), but was experiencing the symptoms of bipolar disorder, of mania, and got the medical help I needed for that more serious diagnosis, I put my son into full-time childcare because I didn’t think that he was safe around me, I thought he’d be better off parented by someone else. It pains me to think about now.

So far, I haven’t said much about being a wife. It’s easier to write about being a mother. Not so sure how or whether to write about being a wife. I am thankful for my husband. I have not always been grateful for him. Marriage is not always easy. He is loving and supportive, and a great dad to our son. My husband is a very private man. So, perhaps, enough said.


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