Monday, 26 July 2010

Depression - I am not my mother

I have said before that my mother suffered from depression as I was growing up and she still does and it was her that clouded my view on medication and treatment.

I love my mum dearly, but she was not always the most emotionally invested person, in fact I received more love and attention from my father and grandfather.  Now this is not to say that she wasn't a good mother, but it is to say that when she was depressed she would say some terrible things, which resonate to this day.

"I wish I had never had children", "If I was to do it all again I wouldn't bother", "your father loved you more than he loves me", "I wish you were a boy".  I Could go on, but I think that that will give you an idea.  I went though stages of hating my mother.  I left home at 16 and I really believed her to he a hard and heartless woman.

I never, ever wanted my boys to feel the same way about me.  We had tried every so hard to get them and to be where we were, so I felt that I needed to be the "perfect mother", the complete opposite of my mum.  They were always well dressed, I lavished them with attention, cooked food from scratch, sang to them and read to them.

If they were ill, I blamed myself, if they didn't do as they were told, well again that was me and not them.  I was the one letting the side down, I was the imperfect mother.

It took a lot of self realisation and bloody tears, heart ache and pain to realise that I am not my mother and I don't need to judge myself on her.  

I was looking to her for approval and it was never coming and that was her issue not mine and finally after all those months of counselling I asked her why she never commented on my parenting.  I wish I had asked her before then.  She told me I was the best mum she had ever met, that I did a wonderful job with the boys and she was proud of me.  I also asked her why she had never told me before, to which her response was "well you never asked".

That was an epiphany for me.  I realised that I am not destined to repeat my mothers mistakes nor was I responsible for her happiness.

It was the moment I started mothering for me and I set my own standards and finally realised that perfect is not what children want.  To this day I have a saying on my wall:

There is no one way to be a perfect mother,
but a million  ways to be a good one.



  1. I think that's very true. We are not destined to make the mistakes of our parents. If we were I would never have had kids! It is a long journey to realise that - well done you for coming to that point

  2. oh my i can relate to this so much. My mum was cold to me when i was younger, never giving me cuddles and i cannot tell you when she ever said that she loved me. She would shout and scream at me if i had done something so minor and would tell me how much of a difficult child i used to be. I'm sure she was depressed but i never asked i just kept my head down, i left home at 18 and when i became a mother i vowed never to be like her and i NEVER wanted my children to feel the same about me.

    I did what you did, i tried to be the perfect mother. When the children were naughty or ill i blamed myself, i blamed myself if they got cranky because they were overtired because i wasn't showing them enough attention. I blamed myself for not having the tidiest house the list can go on and on.

    I myself ended up with PND after my 2nd daughter although i never admitted it becuase i didn't want anyone to think bad of me and i did not want to be compared to my mother. After having the pud (4th baby) i was diagnosed with PND and this was due to me beating myself up about being the perfect mum.

    I'm not on any tablets now but i still feel that watchful eye of dissapointment over my shoulder when things aren't going to plan. I still blame myself for things but i don't think i'll ever change.

    I will never be like my mother, ever, and the day that i am compared to her will be my last x

  3. i can feel a crick in my neck from all the nodding

    thankyou for this heartopening post!

  4. I've just been having a read through this new blog and I think it's very admirable and important to talk about these things openly. My mother too has suffered from depression and it can make your relationship with someone very problematic. Although she can be loving, she can also be detached and distant. Well done on getting the help you have done, I think when you're a mother getting treatment for depression is important for the sake of your relationship with your children. I guess our mothers didn't have as much support available to them and it was talked about much less years ago.

  5. That is so true... as a child I think that I just accepted that cuddles weren't something that we did. Since having my own children I don't understand why there wasn't affection, just blame for things, keeping them poorer etc etc. how much better life would be for them when we left home.....

    My children have taught me a lot about the relationship I should have had with parents, and it's taken me years to let go of the past and accept that I can't be a perfect parent but I can love them and I can try ....

  6. What hard things to hear from your mum.

    I once heard that if we strive for perfection all the time and beat ourselves up for not achieving it all we teach our kids is that it is important to be perfect.

    Very nice post. You sound like a completely brilliant mum, and to your boys you are more than perfect, I'm quite sure.

  7. I love what you wrote at the end lovely. That's a brilliant thing to have on your wall. I had a tough time with my own Mum as a kid and I realise now she struggled with food issues and self esteem that finally led to her having a breakdown when I was 18.

    Your boys sound like they have a fabulous Mum. It must have been weird and amazing to hear that your Mum thinks you're such a good Mummy too. You're breaking the cycle. That's what I hope to do too. We can't be perfect all the time, but we can be the best we can be. My girls know that sometimes Mummy isn't well, and we talk about it. But they know they're loved, which I never did, so I think that's a good place to start. Big hugs lady. x

  8. Wow I am attending counselling just now and my mother is my biggest issue. I hope I can come to terms with the fact I am not my mother like you did. hugs x