(Sharing rambling, unpolished honesty here as I did a year ago with another friend, with the hope that it will bless others.)
Oh, girl, I've been there, am there, and will be there... in that same place. For probably a few years.... This season of our lives is TOUGH. And it feels worse because we feel like we SHOULDN'T be there. Mothering is beautiful, right? And kids are an amazing blessing, right? And we are lucky to be home with them, right? And if we are good parents, the kids will be well-behaved, right? And homeschooling will turn our children into amazing, intelligent, well-balanced adults, right?
But we're exhausted, overwhelmed, guilty, and alone. And then we get less accomplished. Stuff (and to-do's) start piling up. And then we feel more guilty and overwhelmed. And it feels like it WILL NEVER BE ANY DIFFERENT. Unless it gets worse. THAT we can imagine.
Then there are the things we can do to make things better. The 'advice.' Except those things feel like adding to the to-do's. They take time, energy, and/or money. So, I can give you advice, but I understand what it will feel like. :( Get enough sleep. (Bwa-ha-ha...as if we had control over that, and as if we didn't just want to take a nap instead of doing what we are suppose to be doing.) Eat well. (I'm a huge comfort-food eater, but when I was depressed it began with anxiety which made me nauseated and I lost my appetite. That was WEIRD. And fed the anxiety. Either way, I have no desire to eat a big bowl of veggies and fix my family great meals.) Clean the house and get organized. (This is HUGE, but an insurmountable obstacle when one is depressed and has NO energy or get-up-and-go, and often what sends me into depression in the first place.) Exercise. (When? And with what energy? Yeah.) Hire help. (How does one find good help, and where does the money with which to pay them come from? Oh, and then the guilt, because we should be able to do it all.) Stop reading about sad stuff. (Sounds terribly shallow and un-Christ-like (more guilt), but my first priority (and ministry) is my family, and I have to be able to function and take care of them.)
Oh, and take medication. There it is. Probably one of the things you don't want to do, but the only real advice I have, because taking meds CHANGED EVERYTHING for me. It doesn't work well for everyone (without side effects), but it worked wonders for me within a couple weeks. We had an amazing (FUN!!) family vacation right after that, and then a wonderful holiday season. It felt sooooo good. Then I could get out of the depression rut. It was easier to get things done, I had more energy, motivation, and a better attitude. Not like I wasn't ME, but like I was a FUNCTIONING me, you know?
I didn't want to stay on meds, so I weaned myself really slowly during summer. I started in October, and the Dr. recommended staying on them at least 6 months and only stopping them during nice weather (rather than the dead of dreary winter....). Then I started taking some herbal stuff. My sister and I got up early most mornings to walk together starting in October. I think that really helped. Exercise + fresh air + an hour of uninterrupted talking with my sister = therapy. It cut into my sleep, so that was tough, but I really needed the exercise. And I read funny books instead of serious ones.
I could feel myself slipping (though not nearly as badly) last Nov/Dec, just feeling as if there wasn't enough of me to do my job as mom and wife. And then guilt about that, because I SHOULD be enough. I just must be lazy. Sigh. So it was a HUGE BLOW to find out I was pregnant. (Oh, more guilt. I should have felt so blessed.) Any glimmers of the 'light at the end of the tunnel' (AKA: all children being semi-independent and able to contribute to the household) were gone. Already I wasn't 'enough' and then I was facing months of extreme fatigue, nausea, personal space issues (I feel claustrophobic when largely pregnant.... don't TOUCH ME!!), and all the other physical AND EMOTIONAL stuff. Oh, and Dr appointments, labs, etc... Oh, and then delivery and recovery. Oh, and then the newborn phase (sleep deprivation turns me into a walking nightmare). Oh, and as if I didn't have enough to do every day, let's add 8 hours of nursing. During which the boys understand that I'm less able to deal with them (think phone calls), so they act up and get into more trouble.
So, the winter was bad. And then we had a terribly rainy, extended spring. Then the boys started going CRAZY. They were getting into an obscene amount of trouble. They needed to be watched 24-7. Like all in the same room with me. Including quiet time and bed time. I almost lost it. Russ took them on the boys' camping trip, and that was the start of the turn-around. I desperately needed that time alone. It was heaven. Then the boys had 3 WEEKS of VBS. We HAD to get up in the morning and get ready and eat breakfast and get somewhere. I had 3 hours of quiet time, and they got messy crafts, interesting snacks, fun songs, 'education', games and exercise, and social time. All by noon. AMAZING. I had no guilt whatsoever if we did no other fun things. We could do quiet time or chores or errands for the afternoon...whatever *I* needed. I could just kiss those VBS people, LOL.
We are FINALLY remodeling the upstairs attic room into a nursery. It took my sister and her husband coming over and spending a couple hours dealing with the ridiculous mess which used to be a playroom. Once they got the ball rolling, I had to step up. :) It got me excited about getting everything together for baby. I'm trying to get things done and facing the fact that I'll have a newborn within a few weeks (officially 4 weeks until due date, but I'm praying she's a little early...). And getting things done tends to create energy for me. I have the hardest time getting going (depression really magnifies that), but once I get going I do much better. The nursery will look so wonderful when it is finished. I think I'll live up there. :) It also gives me a place for the stuff that has been overflowing in our bedroom (adding stress). And I'll feel amazing when my basic before-baby checklist is done.
One of the biggest changes happens this week. I'm getting help. Yep. Found someone I'm actually excited about. IF she works out, I might have her here every afternoon for a couple months to do all the house cleaning (I HATE cleaning house, but I HATE a messy/dirty house) and whatever else I need her to do (child care, dishes, even help with meals). I can't even fathom having a completely clean house at this point. It is beyond thrilling. Now, we'll just see if I can handle having someone in my personal space. Sigh. I really might live in the attic room. But to have a clean house when people come over to see the baby? It's going to be worth it.
As far as school goes, I think Classical Conversations will be PERFECT for us this fall. Forced get-up-and-go and accountability for me. It starts next week, so I'm hoping to start our light fall schedule then. Bare bones. If I can accomplish that, I'll feel so much better than if I try too much and fail (happens every time). And since I have no idea what this baby will be like in terms of personality and needs (or how the boys will respond to/be distracted by her), we'll have time to figure that out before adding to our schedule.
So, here is my happy list:
::Get one room clean and beautiful and then live in there. :)
::Start getting things done on the to-do list. It feels good once you get started.
::Hire someone to help out. Let them do stuff you HATE to do but makes you feel GREAT when it's done.
::Cut yourself some slack.
::Do bare-bones homeschooling and feel good when you get it done. After a while, add one thing at a time until it feels manageable.
::Read a funny book. Like Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, A Year in Provence, Cheaper by the Dozen, or Down the Garden Path.
::Find someone/something to keep you accountable in the areas in which you struggle.
::If you can't get started on a task, ask a friend or family member for help. If they show up to help, you have step up. :)
::(And take meds if you can't pull yourself out of a downward spiral.)
Oh, and flylady.net was a life-saver for me after Levi was born. Helped me create routines, focus on what I COULD do, and stay on top of things. Very positive, simple baby steps. I'm going to be using some of her systems to get myself organized and so that I can tell my 'housekeeper' what to do. :)
Well, this novel probably isn't all that encouraging, other than to let you know that I really do understand where you're coming from, and I'm guessing a huge number of mothers with several young children feel the very same way.
P.S. Boys terrorizing 'MY' house, YES. And destroying EVERY thing they touch. Yes. And being loud. And messy. And not comprehending what that feels like to me. I take it personally, and I shouldn't. But I do. And our relationships tank. And then the whole house is in shambles (broken, messy, dirty) and I 'know' that if I clean it up and organize it (with blood, sweat, and tears), it will be back to shambles tomorrow. That sucks every bit of motivation I have right out of me. So I let it go, and it gets worse, and I feel worse about life. Oh, what cycles we get ourselves into!!
P.S.S. Things have been going fairly well for me the past month and a half. The past week or two has been great. The boys and I have really enjoyed each other, the house is shaping up (what a difference that makes!!), and the project and to-do lists are showing progress. I've been allowing people to help out (that's a tough one for me!) and have been more social than usual. I'm getting quite excited about bringing home a little baby girl and introducing her to everyone!!