I think the issue is more that for some women, women like me — with a history of depression and a hereditary predisposition toward emotional instability — motherhood and sanity just aren’t 100 percent compatible. This is a hard thing to accept about oneself, and harder to admit. But it became easier when I broached the subject with friends, many of whom revealed similar struggles. For some, the depression or anxiety or moodiness began postpartum. But for many like me, the problem didn’t resolve once their hormone levels fell into check and they’d gotten through those first bewildering months.
And a third friend, Gallaudet, who has two school-age sons, wondered if all these insecurities aren’t societally driven. She wrote to me, “In this time and place, it seems … like it might actually be possible to ‘get it right’ with children, so I often feel like I have to do just that. I forget that throughout most of history, keeping them ALIVE was the goal.” She goes on to explain how in addition to this desire for perfection, “many of us are parenting away from our families of origin, but under the scrutinizing gaze of those we hardly know. If I were to judge my friends’ parenting by Facebook and blog posts, I’d assume their lives were sunshine and organic flowers all the freaking time. When I actually talk to my friends, honestly, I feel much better and less anxious and stressed, because the same shit goes down in every household. But because so much of what I see and hear is prepackaged — marketed, in a sense — I can quickly forget not to judge my own family’s insides based on other people’s families’ outsides.”