Parenting and Depression: Sadness Instead of Expected Happiness

The experience of having a child is one of the most challenging of our lives, one that often puts the couple to a test in a way that is not easy to overcome. After giving birth to a child, many mothers have the feeling that they are exhausted, sad, and disappointed. This is a natural reaction, especially when they realize that all the demands placed on them during the motherhood phase are not actually what they expected. When a child comes into the world, it is not always at the right time and in the right context. Hence, when a child arrives, it brings to the forefront the underlying conflicts in a couple, despite the fact that the couple seems perfect from the outside. 

We often live with the illusion that if we had a child, he would come along and fix all our misunderstandings as partners, he would resolve all our differences in thinking, and we would be able to have a harmonious relationship. In fact, contrary to what many people think, children are there to highlight differences and conflicts between us, to put us to the test, to see what our limits are. There is no doubt that believing that a child has a reparative role is a great illusion and a form of selfishness, because we already invest it with the purpose of repairing the rupture between us as partners, omitting that each child has its own way of doing things. Having children does not mean that they have to compensate for any shortcomings we may have, nor do they bring meaning to the world, but rather that they have to be able to create the life they want for themselves.

When it comes to conceiving a child, how many of us consider doing so without already having created a project that targets us directly, not approaching it as an important part of our lives, as something that will provide direction and meaning? It is often the case that the lack of direction is not resolved by the birth of a child, but instead is aggravated and usually accompanied by sadness, grief and depression as a result of it. Despite the fact that we may feel sadness and depression in these moments, they are very significant for us as human beings, since they give us an opportunity to discover ourselves, to inquire about ourselves, and to begin to make sense of ourselves.The most important thing to us is that our children have the chance to live a fulfilling and independent life. We want them to believe in their dreams; we want them to live for their own sake, not for the sake of others.

Raising our children is a unique adventure, which offers infinite possibilities for healing and development. We need to let go of the fantasy that we will be perfect parents in order to be able to raise our children, and we need to let go of the idea that we will be fully prepared. The experience of having a child will always expose the vulnerabilities within us, as well as part of the darkness within us, but at the same time it will also provide the opportunity to grow and mature in a way that we never thought possible. In order for us to be able to turn the crisis induced by a child into a moment of growth and evolution, an opportunity to transform our relationship into something different, to become parents together, while remaining partners at the same time, it is up to us to make this happen.

There is a risk to a large extent that we will not adapt to reality, that we will be disappointed and that we might take the safe steps towards moving towards the separation of the couple if we still believe that raising a child is something idyllic for others and we still live under the mirage of stories. There is a need for parents to normalize the idea that all those who have children face challenges, have moments of exhaustion and frustration, they may be wrong, but this does not imply that they are bad parents, but rather just part of the journey of learning and growing into parents.

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