Let it be known that I am no longer depressed, and that this post should be evidence of that. There is no way I could write about this stuff if I were still in the thick muck of depression.
But let me say this: I was depressed all summer, and probably for many months before that. I have been tired, exhausted, uninterested in everything, self-recriminating, bored, boring, negative, hopeless, overwhelmed.... classic really, now that I can look back at it.
I would occasionally look over what I'd written here, and feel miles away from the person who could have comfortably asserted that she knew anything about kids or knitting or spackling or any of the rest of it. The person who wrote those posts (even sometimes with humor, albeit self-deprecating humor) seemed like another person. A distant cousin, perhaps, one whom I don't get along with and rarely see. And the person who went to school every day to teach other people's kids? She must have been a person from another planet.
I had a long conversation about a month ago with a friend who routinely takes pills to ease his chronic depression, and he recommended that I see a doctor. Since he takes pills for his depression, it made sense to him that I should as well. This did not sit right with me. I'm not against pills to ease mental and emotional pain, but something about it didn't feel right. For me, understand. If you take them and they're important to you, please don't imagine I'm being critical here. I just didn't (and still don't) think it's the right approach for me.
Then I had another conversation with another friend, and she had some great and important insights. I told her that somebody had told me I sounded really depressed, and that maybe some pharmaceuticals could help. She told me about this book she'd read (sorry, I forget what book) that suggested that depression (or any other emotion, probably; I haven't read the book) can and perhaps should be seen as a sort of sign along the road to somewhere.
The sign (depression) could be saying, "AAAHHH! Don't go down this road!" or it could be, "Please don't marry that person, you'll regret it," or any number of other interesting and important messages about one's life and its living. This rang true. She also pointed out that pills, if they blunt the emotion you're feeling, would blur the writing on the sign, and make it really hard to figure out what it says.
So I sat with that for a few days, and just let the question simmer. If my depression was a sign, what was it saying?
And that's when I had to really admit to myself that I am just not happy being home all day. I don't know if there's a way to change things up so that I can be happy with it; I feel like we have really tried a lot of different structures and strategies, but it's not really working for me. I love my kids, and their intellectual development is important to me, but oddly, I don't think they need me. Of course they need me to be their mother. They need me to listen to them, to support their projects and ideas, and they need me on a most basic level to keep the house running so that they can eat and wear semi-decent clothes. But they don't need me to be home with them all the time, particularly not if that choice is making me depressed and unhappy.
I believe that a depressed, resentful mother at home is worse than a full-time working but otherwise happy and emotionally available mother.
It feels strange to admit this, even though everything in me is indicating its truth. I know many readers of this blog stay home with their kids. I am not trying to say anything here about anyone else's experience, only mine.
And I know I'll be home another year at least, but I'm going to take on some outside projects when they present themselves, and I know that home schooling is going to wind down, sooner or later. It is no longer a project with no deadline.
Feeling better now, thank you.