Ooh, these are posting out of order because I had several drafts in the hopper and scheduled them in the wrong order. We’ll live with it.
Dear Captain Awkward,
I am recently married and also a newbie mom. Before marriage and my then pregnancy, I had always considered myself a cheery person. But when I stopped working and got stuck in the house to take care of my baby, I got so bitter and envious of my husband. I feel bad about this because I know he’s doing great in his job because he wanted a better life for us, yet I feel insecure of his accomplishments. It makes me feel inferior, stupid, and useless.
I never wanted to admit this insecurity to my husband but I told him that I really wanted to work and staying in the house just makes me feel depressed. I always knew how much I hate staying in the house but it’s only when I became a mom that I realized my lack of fondness for babies. I love my child because she’s ours but I don’t love the idea of staying at home. I told my husband about this and he agreed that it would be the best decision if both of us work. We do have this option anyway since we still live with my parents and we’re not really on the rich side so we do have to work.
When my aunt came to the picture she said that I was being selfish about me wanting to work. She said that I should just stay at home and take care of my baby, that it’s the ultimate sacrifice a woman has to make, even mentioning her daughter who became a housewife since her firstborn. I was disgusted with what she said it made me reconsider if I was just being practical or just being selfish. It also made me thought if the depth of my insecurity is just part of postpartum depression.
But my point is, I know in myself that I had done well in finishing my college degree and I don’t want my dream to end with the arrival of my baby. I don’t know if I need any advice but I just wanted to talk about this to someone like you.
Your baby is going to be fine, Awkward Mom, and you know why? Because you and your husband love your baby.
A lot of well-meaning people are going to try to tell you how to parent in this life, and it’s going to be more about their own agenda than anything to do with you and your child. The more confidence you gain as a mom, and the more you get to know your child, the more able you will be to stare people down and say “Wow, thanks, but s/he’s fine and happy, so I’m happy!” The baby needs regular food. The baby needs sleep. The baby needs diapers changed. The baby needs shots and regular checkups. The baby needs lots of love and human interaction. The baby needs shelter & clothing that keeps the baby appropriately warm or cool. If your baby has all that, your baby is FINE.
If your aunt ever brings this up with you again, say “Thanks, I’ll think about what you said” and then do whatever the hell you were going to do anyway before she butted her giant nosy ass into your business.
I know it seems counter-intuitive but this response has three benefits:
1) It allows you to answer back instead of just sitting in silence. It won’t change her mind, but it’s good for you to say *something* out loud as a response, and a good habit to get into.
2) It’s the truth. You WILL think about it, and then you and I will think “Wow, what a self-righteous cow,” and go on with our lives.
3) It shuts off the conversation and leaves her without the fight or the opportunity to lecture you that she was spoiling for. The words that came out of your mouth weren’t rude, exactly, but you’ve told her to shut up and she won’t be able to figure out quite how.
I think you were awesome and brave to know what you needed and to ask your husband for it. Some people really thrive on being stay-at-home moms. Some people don’t. Figure out which one you are and then, if economics and childcare situation allow, be that thing without apology.
Anyone who tells you that you should rejoice in “the ultimate self-sacrifice a woman has to make” (though I love that she admits that it WOULD be a sacrifice) is not looking out for you. Dulce et decorum est, much? A happier you = happier mom = better mom.
I also want to say that postpartum depression is a very real thing, so make sure you tell your doctor how low you’re feeling. It could be that getting out of the house and working will help shake you out of your funk, but please take your feelings seriously and get all the help on your side that you can.
Your aunt can go eat fried worms.
P.S. If she were telling you that you HAD to go back to work or else you were somehow ruining feminism, that would also be bullshit.