The Armstrong Archives (97): One Reason Young Mothers Get Depressed

Mike and JonFrom Ann Arbor, MI  May 21, 1981 Hi! So what’s new with you? The boys are playing with some balloons they got from the Big Boy this morning when Alan took them out to breakfast after taking Grandma to the bus station. She dropped by for a visit—just long enough to help me do the laundry, clean the house, take Aaron to the eye doctor (…he’s okay, but a neighbor landed a Frisbee in his eye while Aaron was bike riding), do the grocery shopping, nurse me back to health (everybody else still has their ailments), and watch the kids so I could do a bunch of research at the U. Michigan library. Pretty good for a three-day stay, wouldn’t you say? What an amazing person! I am so glad for grandparents!!Grandparents with kidsJonathan just walked in with a wooden hammer in hand. I’m glad we’re on friendly terms. He’s at the age where he explains his needs with a series of grunts, squeals, and babbles. The boys call him Screeching Cat, which is not inappropriate. I read yesterday in a dusty old psychology book about the “glorious third child.” They are supposed to be adaptable, easy to train, bring comic relief, and are a source of pleasure to the other family members. That is certainly true of “Jacque.” He plays by himself contentedly or ranges around the house on a search and destroy mission, emptying my cupboards or rearranging the boys’ toys, but he’s always sociable and happy! He’s a doll! Jon on rocking horseAaron spends most of his time riding his bike or big wheel, or organizing games with the dozen other little boys in our court. There are now twenty kids in our little cul-de-sac, and twelve are boys between the ages of Aaron and Jonathan, with Aaron being the oldest, so you can imagine the fun they have. It’s a regular paradise around here—and an almost complete change from last summer. Aaron and Michael are just never lonely now and rarely have time to get bored. I love it!Aaron riding bikeAlan is back on the wards working about ninety-hour weeks, and he works more evenings than he’s home. It’s rumored that next year isn’t quite as bad, but I heard the same rumor about this year, and somehow slowing down from 100+ to 80+ isn’t a significant enough improvement to make life very much fun. To quote my dear friend, Darby Gwisdala, who came down from Mt. Pleasant on a mercy mission to visit this week, “Really, Lord, sometimes I think you over-estimate my abilities!” Alan seems to enjoy his work though, and he’s considering doing a cardiology fellowship, which may mean we’ll have basically the same routine for the next five years, so I guess I’d better adjust one of these years.I got a real insight into depression from hearing a lecture by Dr. Dobson, who is a medical professor at U.S.C (U. Southern Cal.). He says our society is basically materialistic and that most people get their sense of self-esteem from how much they make. Non-paid workers (i.e. homemakers) tend to get depressed because they base their sense of self-worth on relationships (since they are not paid in money). So, when husbands basically ignore their wives, and the children are too small to express appreciation, mothers tend to feel worthless and depressed. Even if men aren’t happy about relationships or work, as long as they get paid, they have something to make them feel successful. That’s why more young women than men end up in mental institutions. (Or, I should say, one reason.)

I know one resident’s wife with two little kids who was so depressed she never even got out of bed on Mother’s Day. Of course, her husband wasn’t home, so he didn’t notice, nor did he remember that it was Mother’s Day (although she’d reminded him several times), but he didn’t appreciate the condition of the house when he got home. I’m sure you all know similar stories. I think ingratitude and neglect are among the most common problems in marriages. Of course, the Lord tells us to look to Him for approval, and that should help realign the thinking of young Christian wives. Were it not for that, I’m sure I would have chucked everything years ago and gone back into some “glamorous” field. However, I don’t think that’s the Biblical pattern for young mothers. We’re supposed to “love our husbands…children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home…” Happy Mothers’ Day. I hope you all had good ones, and I hope you all make Father’s Day really special regardless. “Love our husbands…” only a work of grace could make women forget themselves and appreciate our very human husbands—and only a work of grace could change our husbands so they love more deeply their very human wives!

Love, Us

PS—In case your wondering, I wasn’t the depressed resident’s wife I spoke of; Alan did remember Mother’s Day and made it special for us. Party with neighbors


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