How easy is it to spot an unhappy mother? No, we're not talking about the postpartum depression, serious clinical condition type of mama. But, one of those other mothers.
She's the one that seems to bring misery everywhere she goes. She’s still wearing her pj’s at school pick-up (not drop off, that’s pick-up – as in after the entire school day is over, a few hours post-lunch and sometime around 3 pm), a ponytail is her hair “style” and she’s looking at the put-together mommies with those, “How in the he** do they manage to wear heels and still steer a stroller?”
Some mommies are in a perma-sad space. They’re overwhelmed, under-appreciated and are in desperate need of a nap. Or a shower. Or a meal that doesn’t involve half of the last chicken nugget thrown on the floor by a tantrum-prone toddler, the three mini carrots that no one would eat and a spoonful of last month’s mint chocolate chip ice cream splurge.
So, how easy is it to spot an unhappy mother? Check out the oh-so-common habits. Hey, no one is saying that it's our duty to constantly be on the case of every would-be unhappy mama. But, knowing some of the signs might just help those less than spry moms self-diagnose. Chances are that she might recognize one or two of her habits. That’s totally okay.
We’re all guilty of some of them from time to time (or more than time to time). Catching oneself in some of these possibly red flag-worthy moments helps us to acknowledge what’s going on and make some changes to the happier side of things.
15 She Always Says Yes
“Can you run the PTA’s bake sale?” Um, yes of course. That’s the unhappy mom’s answer for everything. She’s a yes woman – in a major way. It doesn’t matter whether her S.O. is asking her to take the kids out so he can have his fantasy football draft at home, her 2-year-old is non-stop whining for a cookie or her BFF is asking if she can babysit her four kids (that’s on top of the three kiddos she already has and the neighbors twins – who she couldn’t say no to either).
Why is the “always yes” syndrome a habit that the unhappy mom often engages in?
Well, there are lots of possible answers. For many mamas saying yes is an easy way out. There’s no explanation needed and no battle to fight. The unhappy mama is tired, and saying yes is almost an apathetic answer that gets her off the hook without having to engage in any deep conversation.
Another perfectly possible reason is the need to please everyone. She doesn’t want to let anyone else down, because she feels like she’s let herself down. Doing for others lets her focus on the people she loves (or maybe kind of likes) when she doesn’t feel like helping herself.
14 She's Constantly Looking Out For Something Better
When you’re unhappy just about everything else seems better than what you’re going through. This doesn’t mean that the unhappy mama is going to run away, leave her loving hubby and children behind and start a new life. No way! She doesn’t actually want to move on to something that’s supposedly better. She’s just looking for her imaginary princess happy ending.
The unhappier she gets, the more she looks at other people’s lives as better than hers. This isn’t necessarily about jealousy. It’s more like she sees those around her as actually having something better than she has. After all, if she’s so unhappy, doesn’t that mean everything else is better?
When she sees her friends sharing their “perfect” lives on Facebook, she starts looking around to see if she could maybe have that. What she might not think about is that the people, places and things that look “better” aren’t always what they seem.
13 She Daydreams The Day Away
She’s sitting on the park bench watching her adorable little tots play. Or is she? That far-off look in her eyes isn’t saying, “Aw, I can’t even imagine my life being any different than it is in this very moment. My two beautiful children are perfectly behaved little angels and I’m on cloud nine.”
Nope. It’s saying, “I’m sitting on a beach, drinking a margarita and hanging out with Hugh Jackman, Channing Tatum and the impossibly hot dad from mommy and me class.”
Daydreaming is an escape. It’s a way to cope with her unhappiness, without having to say a word. Instead of facing what’s making her sad, the unhappy mother retreats into her own little imaginary world. It’s a world where everything is rainbows, unicorns and shirtless 25-year-old hotties.
Okay, so we all daydream. Come on, admit it. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t spend a few minutes (or hours) once in a while imagining what life would be like if you won the lottery, married the hottest celeb or in some other way were living an extraordinary life. The difference here is that unhappy mom spends more time in fantasy land than she does in reality.
12 She Overshares TMI Moments
Mama’s unhappy and she’s going to let it spill – to everyone. She gushes and wells up. The tears are flowing and she’s pouring her heart out to you. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a healthy show of emotions. Right? After all, we tell our kiddos to recognize, identify and talk about their emotions. So, why shouldn’t us adults do the same?
Well, we should. But, this isn’t any ordinary kind of sharing and caring session. Oh no.
The unhappy mom is big on giving TMI. She just met you. Literally, she just met you. It’s been five minutes since she spotted you at the playground, introduced herself, told you how sweet it is that your kid and her kid have become insta-BFFs and then started in on her purely unhappy life.
This isn’t your bestie, your former college roommate or even your more than an acquaintance (but less than a true friend) co-worker. This is a complete stranger. And now she’s telling you what? She’s telling you about her cheating husband, her kid’s behavioral disorder, her uterine fibroids and the fact that she’s missed her last two mortgage payments due to her serious shopping addiction.
Yikes! TMI, just TMI.
11 She Continuously Compares To Everyone
This woman is making continuous comparisons, and finding fault in herself all of the time. Her self-esteem is low. And, that means she feels like she’ll never measure up to anyone else’s standards (or her own strict standards). To her, everyone else has this perfect life. A life that she’ll never have.
As she’s slothing around in sweat pants and her old maternity t, she’s looking at the fashionista mom at daycare who shows up to school parties and playgroup sessions wearing actual makeup and heels. She’s not just watching other mama’s clothing choices, but she’s comparing her own parenting skills too.
She’s ready to freak out every time her toddlers has a tantrum. But, “perfect mommy” is keeping it together.
Unhappy mom doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand how everyone else can be so very lucky, put together and amazing all at once. And most of all – she doesn’t understand why she is none of those things.
Chances are that she is. Heck, plenty of other parents are probably comparing themselves to her. But, she can’t see her way out of her unhappiness for long enough to realize that she totally has it going on.
10 She Eats Her Mommy Feelings
It’s 10 pm. The baby is finally asleep, and it’s mommy’s time now. But, mommy is pretty unhappy today. She could read a book, try a new craft (apparently using arms as massive knitting needles to ‘hand knit’ a blanket is a crafty new thing that mommies do now) get in a quick 20 minutes on the elliptical or she could down a pint of rocky road, the leftover pizza and half a jar of peanut butter.
Unhappy moms tend to eat their feelings. Instead of acknowledging their unhappiness, or doing something about it, they turn to food. Wouldn’t it be nice if that meant they turn to apples, bananas and undressed organic salads? But, it’s much more likely that means they turn to comfort foods. And we all know that comfort foods aren’t always low-cal, fat-free or in any way healthy.
So, unhappy mom downs a bunch of trans-fat, high fructose-filled foods that aren’t making her feel any better.
9 She Drinks To Dull The Pain
If numbing is what you want, alcohol is a legal way to do it. This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of parents popping “mother’s little helpers.” But, alcohol and depression often (unfortunately) go hand in hand.
In a literature review on the subject, published in the American Journal of Medicine, researchers found that alcohol problems are more common in people who suffer from depression than in people who don’t. That said, it’s entirely possible that alcohol abuse is the cause for the depression. That makes it a challenge to tell which came first. It’s kind of one of those chicken or the egg conundrums.
Sad mamas don’t exactly indulge on a “can’t function without a drink” level. But, they do enjoy a glass of wine, a fancy mixed drink or one of their S.O.’s craft beers to get over some of the sadness that they feel. If you are experiencing this or you know someone who is, seeking help is key.
Stopping a potential problem before it starts is the best-case scenario. If they unhappy mama is already getting in deep, a professional can help her to pick up and make some serious life changes.
8 She Lives In The Past
Ah, the glory days. Back in high school now-unhappy mama was super popular, the head cheerleader and on the prom court. Okay, maybe she didn’t always live an idyllic existence. But, she had some pretty kick ass times. Right? She was childless and fancy free. She went out with her girls, had dinners out that didn’t involve crayons and an illustrated paper menu and did things that didn’t involve checking the color of baby’s poop or “redirecting” toddlers.
When mothers are unhappy, they may go back to a time when they didn’t feel the stress and strain that they’re currently under. Living in the past is a coping mechanism that lets the unhappy mother stay in her happy place. She picks a time when she was at her best, felt her best or in some other way was content and happy to just be herself.
So, how do you know when a mommy is living in the past? Well, she’ll probably straight-out tell you. It’s likely that she’ll verbally relive her best times, over and over and over and over again. You may find yourself wondering, “Haven’t I heard that story about spring break '99 a zillion times already?”
She may even try to go back to her past – in some way. This might mean wearing the clothes that she had way back then, reuniting with old friends or visiting old haunts.
7 She's Into Mommy Shaming
Sometimes feeling bad about yourself transfers onto other people. Even though unhappy mommy isn’t pleased with what she sees when she looks in the mirror (or looks at her life), she isn’t going to say it. Um, maybe she’ll say it. But, not to you. So, instead of talking about just how sad she is in her own life, she shames others.
Yep, that’s her, on the Internet, hiding behind the anonymity of her keyboard. She’s on Facebook, she’s commenting on blogs and she’s doing everything she can to make you (or some other mama) feel bad. She’s a shamer.
It’s not because she’s a mean girl or because she hates you. It’s out of a massive mixture of desperation and depression. The unhappy mommy shamer is going to pick apart every other parent’s skills, decisions and self-doubts. She’s projecting her own feelings on them, making it seem like she’s perfect and everyone else is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’. She doesn’t really think this though. In reality, she’s the one who she truly wants to shame.
6 She's Full Of Super-Sized Self-Neglect
She hasn’t shaved her legs in weeks, bothered to wash her hair, changed her spit-up stained shirt, eaten a real meal or given herself two minutes to just relax. Unhappy mothers tend to get into the habit of neglecting themselves. Whether it’s their health (both mental and physical), appearance or leisure time, they take self-neglect to a whole new level.
The thing with self-neglect is that it may be outstandingly obvious to everyone else, but not so noticeable to the sad mommy. She’s probably gotten so used to neglecting herself that she doesn’t even notice she’s doing it anymore.
Okay, so you’re thinking, “Hey, none of us have the time to truly take care of ourselves. We all put our kids, significant others, friends, parents, jobs and everything else before ourselves. Does that mean we’re all unhappy?”
Of course not. Every mama experiences some form of self-neglect – especially during the confusing, scary and often wondrous newborn period. But, unhappy mommies turn the neglect up a notch to the “I’m giving up” level.
5 She Ignores The S.O.
There once was a time, long, long ago, when you were head over heels crazy in love with your significant other. The two of you had just started dating and you were in that all out lusty rage that only new loves have. You wanted to see each other all of the time and couldn’t get enough of each other. There were long romantic walks, phone calls that lasted all night long and butterflies.
You two were so much in love that one of you popped the question and you decided to get married. Well, maybe you didn’t get married. Not everyone does. But, you decided to stay together long enough to get pregnant and have a baby.
The level of doting used to be on high way back when. But, now you’re feeling somewhat sad and ignoring your S.O. That’s the unhappy mom right there. She may still very much love her significant other. But, she just doesn’t want anything to do with them. She shies away from social interactions and keeps romance at an arm’s length.
She may even put up an emotional wall, making her S.O. feel like he’s not even part of her plans. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean they’re headed for divorce or that she and he are falling out of love. It’s the unhappiness at work. With some help (possibly from a pro), unhappy mom can get her groove back and rejoin her S.O. in a committed and caring relationship.
4 She Has Guilt, Guilt And More Guilt
Unhappiness often breeds guilt. Why? For lots of reasons. Mom might feel like she just doesn’t measure up. Or, she might feel guilty for her sad ways.
Wait, what? How can someone who is depressed feel guilt over their sadness? When sadness takes over mom is obviously not so thrilled about it. She wants to happy. Right? No one actually wants to be unhappy. Mom knows that her sadness is affecting more than just her. She knows that it’s impacting her kids, her significant other and possibly her other family members and friends. And, she feels guilty about it.
The guilt tends to grow, and extends beyond just her sadness. She might feel guilty about her parenting skills, her choices, her ability to show up for the PTA bake sale or just about anything else. The guilt may take over, creeping into every area of the unhappy mother’s life.
3 She Fixes Everyone Else
It’s hard to fix yourself. But, it’s easier to fix other people. In theory, that is. Unhappy mamas tend to be fixers. They want to fix themselves, but feel powerless to do so. That leaves them wanting to fix everyone else.
They see another mommy who is in distress, and immediately they’re on it. They’re ready to give advice, pitch in or do whatever it takes to solve that problem. Pretty nice, isn’t it? Sometimes when someone is way too quick to jump in or overdoes it when it comes to ‘fixing’ they’re really in need of some help themselves.
This isn’t to say that all fixers are sad or unhappy with themselves. Plenty of helpful people are perfectly thrilled with who they are and are okay with the way things are going. But, being a fixer is one habit that many unhappy mothers share.
2 She Forgets To Care About Her Appearance
This goes along with self-neglect. The difference here is that self-neglect includes everything about the mama’s self (her health, her emotional well-being and anything else that is more than on the surface), and forgetting about her appearance is obviously focused on looks.
An unhappy mother may give up caring about what she looks like. You’ve probably seen this plenty of other times, and not just with moms. That guy who lost his job, got tired of looking for a new one and decided that his ratty ol’ sweats were totally okay to wear out to the mall. Or, your post-break-up BBF who spent two weeks wearing her ex’s football jersey (not caring about the stains, smells and other not so pretty parts of the shirt).
When unhappy mom forgets about her appearance she lets everything go. She stops worrying about what she’s wearing, and is perfectly fine with muck-stained yoga pants or a hole-covered sweatshirt. She’s hiding her unwashed hair under a hoodie and she hasn’t bought makeup in two years (because, why?)
1 She's Complaining Constantly
She’s unhappy and wants you to hear about it – all of the time. She’s not necessarily oversharing. Nope. She won’t spill all of the info. But she will whine, whine and whine some more about her total and complete unhappiness.
Unhappy mothers tend to complain about anything that is possible to complain about. This ranges from her unruly ponytail to how her toddler refuses to nap. She’s constantly complaining, and there are no plans to stop. Seriously. This habit makes our tot’s boo-hooing look totally tame.
The unhappy mom can find fault with anything or anyone. Let’s say it’s the preschool class carnival. What a fun time! Everyone is enjoying themselves. That is, except for sad mama. She’s scowling and complaining about the lack of shade (that pesky sunshine is just not wanted), doesn’t like the way the baked goods are displayed and isn’t thrilled about her kids’ behavior (even though it’s perfectly fine).
Sources: AMJMED.com, BabyCenter.com, Prevention.com