You had a baby 6 months ago. You have been home with a toddler and small baby in the thick of it. Your spouse went back to work after a month and, as much as they want to, they can’t help very much because they’re gone from 7am -7pm everyday commuting and working. You have children hanging on you around the clock surrounded by piles of dishes, a mountain laundry that has gotten so tall your toddler now uses it as an indoor jungle gym, and you’re going on day 4 of not showering because your husband has been out of town for work. You love your kids but wish you could just have some sense of your old self back. You don’t even recognize yourself.
Then your friend texts and asks if you can do brunch this weekend with her and a few other friends. You take a deep breath in for the first time in a long time because getting a small glimpse of normalcy is the first time you’ve felt a piece of your old self start to come back.
But then you remember your new debt payoff plan doesn’t include extras like brunch or coffee or the occasional date night because “the only time you should see the inside of a restaurant is if you’re working there” while you’re paying off debt. (Yes this is real advice out there.)
You politely decline and tell yourself it’s a short term sacrifice for long term gain. Meanwhile your mental health is suffering and you’re too afraid to vocalize it.
Or how about this?
3 months after having your first baby you are dreading going back to work. Having a newborn has been challenging, for sure, but you love spending time with them. You’ve been crying all week after going back to the office and well-meaning people keep telling you it will get better. However you’re struggling because, between work and commuting, it feels like you are barely home in time to feed them, do a bath and get them to bed. The weekend comes around and you’re excited to be able to take them on fun outings and use that time to it’s fullest.
BUT you have over 6 figures of student loan debt that you want to get paid off as quickly as possible. You did some research online and found a list of approved essentials that can be included your budget when you’re paying off debt and family excursions weren’t part of it.
So you stay home every weekend, thinking that’s all you can do and sink deeper into the depths of mom guilt.
“But you chose to have kids!” I can already hear the comments from the peanut gallery.
While that may be true, there are a lot of things in life we choose to do that turn out much different than we think it will. And it’s ok to have feelings about it.
“You shouldn’t have acquired so my debt then. That’s your own fault.”
You can accept responsibility for your choice to take on debt while also expressing your feelings about it.
We’re so quick to come over to hold the baby that we forget to hold the mother.
In a study that predated the COVID 19 pandemic, it was found that the “Prevalence of anxiety and depression among mothers varied by age, income, and other demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, with younger mothers having much higher rates of anxiety than older mothers, and mothers with lower incomes having higher rates of both anxiety and depression than mothers with higher incomes.”
I don’t have the exact answers as to why mothers with lower incomes experience higher rates of anxiety and depression, but I think we can all agree that having disposable income provides new moms with choices and that makes a huge impact.
So why am I sharing this now?
Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend. And I can’t think of a bigger gift I can personally give each and every mom than permission to include their needs as essentials in their budget.
I’m not saying if you have 6 figures of debt that you should load up your amazon cart as a coping mechanism after your kids were absolutely feral that day.
But for the love, if getting a dang gym membership with childcare so you can workout and shower in peace will be one simple thing that will make you feel human again, I consider that about as essential as it gets.
Happy Mother’s Day.