Thursday, 5 May 2011

Parenthood, working parenthood and depression - guiltier than the guilty

I was planning to blog about parenthood as well as depression, so I really ought to mention parenthood, as well as the endless ramblings about depression.

First a bit of background, my daughter is 2 and a bit.  She is beautiful, I love her more than I have ever loved anyone or anything in my life, she amazes me, enthrals me and at times frustrates me.  I love seeing her learn new things, she is like a sponge, she picks up everything so quickly (especially the things you hope she hadn't heard).  And she has her opinions on things, today's was that Mummy isn't very good at jumping, and I'll be fair she has a point.

The one thing I don't think I expected in parenthood is the guilt.  It's endless, am I good mum?  Am i giving her the right things to eat?  Do I give her enough attention?  Am I smothering her?   Is she spoilt?  Is she neglected?   I think most parents must worry if they are doing things right, if you have depression then it is amplified.  Depression makes you feel like you do the simplest things badly, whether it is making a cup of tea or ringing the doctor to make an appointment.  Now imagine how you dealing with something that everyone feels they are doing badly anyway.  I want to do the best for her, but just feel I am incapable of it.  Then I worry I over compensate and give her too many treats, buy her too many toys and let her watch too much TV.

Just to add another layer of guilt I am a working mum, I work full time in insurance in the City.   I enjoy my job, I have been ambitious and I have been relatively successful.  I have a good degree, until I became a mum, my personal worth and success was very closely linked to professional success (and clearly that has gone wrong and lead to previous Prozac episodes).  Suddenly the guilt increases exponentially.   Not only am I letting my daughter down, being a selfish, self obsessed working mother who only cares about her career and palms her daughter off to strangers to look after (yes I know how the Daily Mail would describe me).   But I also feel like a bad employee, I can't work late, I need to get home to sort out childcare, I can't always come in early.  Some days I am tired in daughter has had a bad night (somehow I never felt that guilty when I was tired because I had been out partying 'til late).   I feel guilty because I can't dedicate myself to work as much as I used to.  To make up for it I have to put my daughter in front of Peppa Pig so I can talk to clients on the phone (hence the TV guilt).  And once my daughter is in bed, out comes the laptop so I can carry on working til midnight, before being up again at 530 to get the early train into work again.   That is when I get a few minutes to myself to sit there working as tears roll down my face, because that day I've let down my daughter, not spending enough time with her, let down my colleagues, because I'm not pulling my weight at work, and letting down everyone else in my life because I have no time at all for them. 

I hate it when people say to me "I don't know you do it", I'll tell you how I do it, I'm knackered, unhappy, unfit, overweight and on Prozac.  But that's me, the big success story.

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