You know what's great? I love being a mom. Like, really, truly, love being a mom. My kids are awesome and I love hanging out with them. Even though they are messy and loud and annoying and boring and stressful, I still think they are the best thing in the whole world. Which is a nice change from how I felt about parenting when my children were first born. I was hit hard by my postpartum depression after the birth of both my children, and I can now happily say that I am fully and completely out of the woods.
Turns out, while postpartum depression is a hot topic right now in the psychology scene, there is evidence to suggest that postpartum is not the most psychologically trying period for moms. In fact, postpartum might be one of the most fulfilling periods in a mother's life. According to a new study published by Developmental Psychology, mothers of infants report the highest levels of life satisfaction and fulfillment when compared to mothers with older children. Additionally, despite the societal emphasis on postpartum, the study found that new mothers report the low levels of emptiness, loneliness and stress when compared to mothers with children in school. According tothe data, the most difficult time for moms is when their children are in middle school. Mothers of middle schoolers actually feel more parental dissatisfaction and stress than mothers with children at any other stage.
What the Hell?
I feel a little bit like I've been tricked. All this warning and counsel over how to recognize and treat postpartum depression, and then science turns around and is like, "Oh, no. That's the easy part."
The study gives a lot of reasons as to why this might be the case. First of all, science now recognizes that middle schoolers are horrible, horrible people. Well, maybe not horrible, but the report does note that middle schoolers are at least as difficult as babies, but not nearly as cute. Plus, teens and parents encounter a lot of stress as the kid deals with more complex issues in school and peer relationships. All this is happening, but there are not a lot of resources for parents of teens. There is an unending collection of books, and websites, hotlines and social groups for new mothers, but almost nothing for parents of children hitting puberty. Parent of older children can hardly even find time to vent to each other because they all have packed schedules.
Obviously, I just think this is all fan-friggin-tastic.
I need to be careful though. This study is not saying that parenting my kids as middle schoolers will be worse than dealing with my kids postpartum. I need to remind myself that the law of averages is clouding the results of the data. Yes, the study indicates that most mothers will have a decrease in life satisfaction as their child moves towards middle school, but most mothers don't have postpartum depression. Apparently, most mothers are blissfully happy postpartum. (Jerks.) Live it up ladies, because nobody gets through middle school unscathed.
I'm just kidding. I love you.
You know what we all need to do? We need a bunker. Then instead of driving our grumpy little hormone-balls, to practice after study group after sleepover, we drink and plot ways to embarrass our kids at the mall. I've been through the paretal depression thing before, so you can just come and hide with under my blanket until they leave for college.