Why are we here?

by Katrina on March 8, 2010

“How do you do it all?”

I used to get that a lot. From other moms at my son’s preschool. From parents at the Y where my daughter took swim lessons. From coworkers at the web consulting agency where I managed a team of designers. From the editor at the publishing company that offered me a contract to write a design book. Even from my husband.

I was a 37-year-old mother of three* and somehow, my kids, my marriage, and my career were all thriving.

Then, one Saturday afternoon in the spring of 2009, while driving to Target to buy diapers, I broke down. Not my car. Me.

photo by Natasha Mileshina

I pulled over to the side of the road, my hands shaking, barely able to breathe. I called my husband and sobbed, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Thus ended my career, and thus began a journey into crippling depression, anxiety, and insomnia; medication, meditation, and therapy. As I learned to heal my body and my mind, I searched for answers to one question: What the hell happened to me?

At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. After all, I had a loving husband, a supportive boss, healthy kids, a good income. If I couldn’t manage a career and a family then how were other women doing it, women who didn’t have all those advantages?

I started talking to my friends, my relatives, my housekeeper, my doctor, my babysitter. I wanted to know how were they managing it. Guess what? They weren’t. They suffered from panic attacks and depression, heart palpitations and hives, migraines and mysterious coughs that won’t go away. Some of them took anti-depressants. Others took anti-anxiety medications. Most of them fantasized about quitting their jobs. They were barely getting by. I had no idea. Like me, they had been putting a brave face on their suffering. Like me, they all assumed there was something wrong with them.

There are dozens of self-help books telling women they can do it all—succeed in demanding careers and still be good parents, good partners, and even happy, fulfilled people. But my experience and that of the women I know tells a different story.

I decided to start this blog as a place where I could organize my thoughts and connect with others who are thinking deeply about this issue. And so, dear reader, we find ourselves here, on an auspicious day, International Women’s Day, at the beginning of what I hope will be a fruitful conversation about why raising kids in the U.S. is so ridiculously, head-achingly, heart-breakingly hard, and what we can do about it.

If you have a story about raising kids and working or watching other people do it, I want to hear about it. If you’re a researcher or a policy maker and care about this issue, let’s talk. If you have a wild or brilliant idea for how to make this better, I want to hear about that, too.

Leave your comment here, or email me privately at katrina@workingmomsbreak.com.

*NOTE: I have two kids of my own and a stepdaughter on the weekends. I never know if I should say I have two kids or three. I usually say three because there are three children I love and care for on a regular basis.

{ 163 comments… read them below or add one }


I am so run down. The house is always a mess… there are always dirty dishes and the floor is littered with toys which i clean up daily. I work night shift so i am exhausted, drag myself up to make the kids breakfast…i spend my morning on the laptop while they play or watch tv. Afternoons they go to childcare where i am about to pick them up from. We don’t even eat very good meals anymore, i don’t really have much energy to cook and i think more of a problem is finding time to go to the grocery store as we share a car and i go to work not long after he gets home. I can’t really do this anymore but we need the money… i decided i will take the kids to the park on the way home today as i am realizing that they don’t get QUALITY time with us, not enough of it at least. I feel miserable and working in fast food has made me put on so much weight that i am no longer healthy and that is rather depressing too. I don’t feel i get any help around the house, i used to at some point but with his job being so demanding i no longer do.



mel im doing the same thing…one car he works days I work nights I leave right as he gets home…I don’t even enjoy my time home most days…I often look forward to going to work…not so much lately tho…me and my other half constantly bicker about everything and anything…my kids attitudes r getting worse…now my oldest (2 1/2) needs speech therapy…another thing to add to the list of having to move by march…share a vehicle keep my job…I feel this job has made all worse but we need the money….I don’t know how much more of this I can take..im tired of being so angry and sad all the time its never anything else..



I’m struggling with the intense mom guilt I feel for working outside of the home. I find myself weighing the pros and cons of seeking a career constantly throughout my day. I want my children to eat healthy food, have a roof over their head, go to excellent schools (right now my daughter is in a Chinese immersion class at a very innovative international school), and have money for college. I want my husband and I have to have money for retirement and to travel. But I also want to cook dinner for my kids every night, read them stories, and be a part of their day, play with them, run with them, teach them and watch them learn new things. I think social media ends up being my downfall a lot of time..I feel stressed that my pleasure in enjoying the moments I have with my children are not deemed to be enough. If I am not with my children 24/7 I am all of a sudden not considered to be parenting them, and then I think that is where most of my Mom guilt comes from… Then I wonder, is it fair to stay at home parents to say I am as much parent as they are when I don’t stay home, but is it fair to me to say I am not as much parent because I work… Thanks for your blog, I am looking forward to subscribing and finding support. I am the mother of 2 young children. I worked with my daughter for about 18 months, and then stayed at home with her for 6 months. Then I went to work full time and sent her to day care. When she was 3 I had my son, but with him I went back to work when he was 3 months and he went to day care for 3 months. Then I quit my job, and am now attending law school full time on a scholarship while my son is now watched by my husband and Mom, and my daughter does part time preschool and has my Mom too. My school schedule often allows me to spend additional time with my kids compared to my 4o hour work schedule, but I worry about the career path I’m working towards.


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Yes! Finally something about web design company video production.



I am a mom of a three year old little girl. I have my own business and I live with my daughters father ( my boyfriend ) I am so burnt out!! Between running a business, working out, cleaning the house running to nursery school and ballet. I’m just Exhausted!!! I want out of my relationship he is useless and I’m pretty sure he is cheating on me while I run our house hold. This is not what I thought it was going to be. He is demanding and a fool but I don’t want to leave because of my daughter … I don’t know what to do. Please help me.



Leave him.



Leave him, you will have a better quality and peaceful live :)



I am solo mother to two beautiful boys. I work full time teaching ontop oF traveling to work which is 2 hours away in busy traffic.my day begins at 4am in the morning and doesn’t end till after thr kids r asleep which I’d around 8-9 pm.and than ontop of that I do my teaching planning assessments marking etc etc.so i would on average get around 3-4 hours sleep maX. luckly i am grateful to have my parents help who help drop my older boy to school and my youngest travels with me.sometimes i forget to give myself credit at how hard I work and that I am a great mum.luckly i have 2 best friends that do that for me…..i am very greatful for thEm.i try and embrace everyday as a new day and smile and tell my boys i love them everyday. EVEN though financially it it hard especially with all the long hours bills keep coming and it can get hard at times.I keep reminding myself to stay positive and i make sure I pray before I go to bed…



wow. Im glad i found this. I am a full time student and have 3 kids, (10,5 and 2) Im trying to get through school as fast as i can cuz i got a late start and want to be able to support my family. I live with my boyfriend and he is a dream, but I want to be self sufficient. I am on aid and have been since my youngest was born, but it’s no way to raise a family. Because of this I find myself taking 18 units so I can transfer next semester (Fall) and because I have no money, and a divorce left me with horrible credit my only option to pay for tuition is financial aid and scholarships. I maintain a 4.0 which means I am always doing homework. Well not always I also have a family and they require a lot. I try to divy myself evenly between my kids so no one gets “neglected” and try to spend enough time with the bf to keep a healthy relationship. At times I feel like super woman juggling my school, my kids school (volunteer work), errands, food, laundry, dr’s, and my family and then one day out of no where I can barely get dressed. I have the cough that never goes away and have a hard time dealing with all three of my kids at one time for more than an hour or two. I get stressed out and have the urge to run away sometimes. I felt crazy and ashamed like I should be able to do this without so much effort and sometimes it is easy, but the gas runs low at times and i freak out. I keep dusting myself off and getting back in “the game” until the next time i have a mini melt down. I have the support of family and an amazing man but sometimes it feels like im doing it alone. idk, it’s nice to vent. :)



hi, i am a single mother of two toddlers, a full time employee and a student and i do not have a live in nanny. every morning i wake up, bath the kids, feed them, drop them off at the nursery travel 200km to and from work, rush back to fetch them, cook, feed them, bath them, play with them, read them a bed time story and put them to bed. I rest for like 30 minutes to an hour, take out my books and start studying. I am completetly worn out. i am tired. i forgot what i loved to do in my past time. i have lost alot of friends because i do not have time. my life has become a vicious circle, a fulltime job of giving myself unto others. I have put on this super mom cap that is starting to feel heavy on me. Tonight as i am writing this i was thinking of just how tired i have become how lonely i now feel. maybe some of you can help




I am a successful manager, married mother of 2. On the surface I have been doing a pretty good job of appearing that I am handling the endless meaningless grind of waking up at the crack of dawn, pushing my two girls out the door to before care, driving for an hour in bad weather to go to a job where I am so overworked that I usually work through lunch, leaving at 5 only to drive at least another hour, get home where my husband has not likely done too much, so then I start making lunches for the next day and supper, eventually flopping into bed exhausted yet again. I am cranky at my children, they don’t deserve this. This week I finally started to crack at work and push back on the ridiculous workload, of course by this point of course it’s not coming out right, after years of this cycle, I guess I am only just human…



Ann…I feel like I’m in the same boat as you. I am a nurse manager of icu. I never tell my boss no. I do all the work and all my staff knows it. I don’t want to say I can’t get it all done because about a year ago I moved to this position, not in pay or title, but just the work load. I went from 3 13 hours shifts a week, one weekend a month, and three holidays a year. To 4 days a week. I always start at 0630 and leave anywhere from 4-7. I’m now off on Fridays, no weekends, no holidays, so I feel if I say anything about the workload I will have to go back to bedside car and work weekends and holidays, but on the same token is my sanity worth it. This week my mental health issues, not being able to handle my life, has presented as a physical illness. I feel like I am going to faint in any position other than lying flat. I don’t know whatbtondo



I’m glad i found this thread. I’m married and i’m a part-time nurse with a 2 year old and a 3 years old. My husband works night and i work days flexibly. Kids attend nursery for 3 days in which my husband brings and picks them up 2 days and i do one day when i’m off work. I feel lucky to have him but at the same time, he waits for me to come home to get them ready and dressed for bed, tidy the toys, cook the dinner sometimes and prepare their clothes for the next morning. He also tends not to help on the days i’m not working and gets upset if i try to discuss it. I do feel though that im being unfair to him as night work is difficult especially when everyone else is awake in the day. He keeps saying its tough on him and i dont appreciate what he does for the kids but i feel like he also does not appreciate that i also do alot.



I am a single mum of 2 girls, I get no help from my ex husband so I do it all. I work full time, I am the only parent, and I pay all the bills. My job has been stressful and required long hours at times, I have recently moved within the same company and my current job is fantastic. But at home… my youngest daughter is agressive at times, she is now refusing to go to school saying that she is ill. She says there is nothing wrong at school and the teachers confirm this. And I am at my wits end, I don’t know what to do for her/with her and at the same time I am under pressure to keep earning to provide for us. When I am at home it doesn’t appear to make any difference to her, so giving up work (even if it was an option) wouldn’t be enough. Everywhere I turn there appears to be another brick wall.



Both my girls went through a faze where they just refused to go to school. I could not believe they thought it was optional. The older daughter and I argued about this everyday for months until I realized she was upset about other things and this was a call for help/attention. I tried to set aside other time that was just for her and she was mostly grouchy but I think it helped her to know I was trying. Eventually, it just went away.



I am a single mother of a beautiful funny very demanding 6 year old. I am also a partner teacher of 44 preschoolers. I rest my case. I am burnt out beyond on going back I think. I cant sleep. I have to force myself to cry, because sometimes I think if I could just get it all out scream and shout that would make me feel better! I lost my appetite, I am loosing weight. I do not have suicidal tenancies. But I am lonley. If I had someone good to share the load with I think I could step out of it. I am a positive and very optimistic woman. I want my life back.



I work with senior citizens and they tell me this is the time in life you just have to keep going and it will get better. I try to find one nice thing to look forward to each week…ben and jerrys ice cream, new seeds for my garden, a new craft project. They are small and silly but nice to think about. I have a sitter come sat eve and am taking a dance class now. It helps provide some immediate fun. Maybe you could plan a summer trip or weekend away? Hope this helps.


Lauren Millard

I’m a mother of 3 and have a great husband.
After 16 years at home I’ve just started a full time job.
My husband has been struggling to get a job and is fighting depression.
This job just happened, I’m a funeral director and I’m so overwhelmed by the job itself but the full time gig!
Respect to all for doing it, I cry heaps and sometimes at work (I know classy hey)
The paperwork thats part of the job is really full on.
Has anyone got any tips to keeping calm, focused and moving forward!



I’m so happy to find this post. I am indeed inneed of help. I am an international student studying away from my home country. I have my husband and my son with me. My husband is also a student but he also works online as a website designer for several companies. My son is about 22 months old and is very clever and healthy. Every other parts of my life is good. We gain good income that could support us throughout our lives overseas, I’ve always got a good grade before that I finally made it to a medical school. So I am , now, a medical student, to be exact, a 4th year medical student. If I go around the lecture theatre at my uni and asked if there is anyone there a mother and also a medical student, I would not find one. Being a medical student is like the one of the toughest and busiest lifestyle ever, and in my case, I add my married life on top of that. I found myself very teary and weak these few days. I barely wake up every morning feeling ‘great.. can’t wait to start my day today!’. Every morning I wake up to weird feelings.. I feel like I don’t want to do this. I feel like I don;t want to do anything today..

My son is growing and of course, he needs a lot of attention, but I couldn’t do it anymore… I am so exhausted juggling with everything. My husband has been supporting me alot but he is too juggling with his stuff and I can’t depend too much on him. Sometimes I was too exhausted , I got angry and I shouted at my son and I felt really really bad and guilty about that. I really wanted to be the best mother for him, I want him to be happy, I want him to see me happy but it has been a few times when I cried and sobbed in front of him because I just couldn’t face this anymore.

I know I need help but I really have no idea where should I go.. I don’t even have time to think about it. While writing this, I’m fighting a dilemma on whether or not I should keep writing because I have a lot of things to study and assignments to be done.

To anyone who read this, please make some prayers for me. My only wish is so that I can graduate next year and that I could always be a good mom to my son.



I’m so happy I found this blog. I am a 24 year old full time student,mother of two little girls (6 months and 3 years old). I work full time and not to mention single mom. Ever since their father got out of the military he decided his priorities are his friends and family. This does not include me or his children. I love my children but feel so lost and as if I’m going to lose my mind. The lack of sleep, no help, not having enough time to do homework or anything else besides watch the kids has left me so stressed out. I don’t honestly think people understand how hard it is to try to do everything with minimal help. Raising kids working, going to school, and trying to do your daily routine can honestly drag a person down. there’s days where I’m at home and after hours of the kids crying I just feel like locking myself in the bathroom and crying. I left their father for a better future and you knew it would be hard but didn’t think it would be this difficult and mentally draining. I look back four years ago when I was 20 years old, no kids no stress, gym junkie and makeup artist and don’t even know who I am today. My life has changed so much in the short four years. I really appreciate blogs like this because on days where I feel alone and to my breaking point I know that there’s other moms out there in the same boat as me.


Michelle gold

I am also a career mom who is insanely overhelmed at times w my 3 and 6 year old. I have an extremely helpful husband amd yet sometimes I break down In tears from exhaustion.

Three things have helped heal me (besides my faith in a higher power)

1. I’ve decided to homeschool my kids. No more rat race this way to and from school. We go to the YMCA a few times a week where I get 2 hours to myself and they get social interaction.

2. For weekends and since homeschooled, on weekdays, there is quiet/roomtime. We started this when they outgrew naps.
Everyday they get an hour and half mandatory quiet/room times where they play in their rooms and I get quiet. whether I use that time to nap and eat or write a song, it’s heavenly!
(When I first instilled this they tried to fight me on it but I threaten to take away TV provelages or iPad time if they don’t stay in room) They have tons of great toys to play with and lots of good books.

3. I have limited activities to once a week dancing school and 2 times YMCA. Weekends are completely open always unless I am doing a concert somewhere and i often don’t bring them cuz I’m cuddling with them or cleaning up after them all day

I’m not sure how single moms homeschool (guessing they work some nights??? Or have family helping) but I will tell you that it’s q financial sacraficw to work less.

4. I enrolled in the daveramsey.com financial peace program which allows me to work less and live on a smaller budget. I now have more time for my family and for rest.

Still ain’t easy. Sometimes Im completely wired and can’t calm down for bedtime. But at least I get a 15 min nap each day if I need it. At times, I’ve had to visit my women’s support group to cope. Being a mom totally is the most exhausting challange of a lifetime.

If u are reading this and feel depressed, find a free anonymous meetig near you. http://Www.alanon.org



I swear, I start to think things get better but then we take a downward spiral. We filed bankruptcy and we are surrendering the house. I am embarrassed because it is awful the house is a money pit. When we moved in it was great, then the child support was raised to over double then we added another teenager to the mix. Then my father in law got sick, we lost him in 08′ then things were looking up child support stopped we were getting ahead and finally could start fixing the broken house the plumbing and septic and the list went on. Then the papers came you are be sued!!! Back to child support and loans and payments of more support and lawyers that don’t do a damn thing. So then you add more debt, more house, more child support and the teenager is still at home and one that needed to be in college that is still home. Then the mother in law is sick badly. We lost mom two weeks before Christmas. We then added a dog to the mix. We finally file and things are ok. Then the dog is sick and we put him down this week. My husband is very depressed not that he would admit it. Now he gets in these moods that he needs something and it is 90 miles an hour to get it right now and if I say something negative toward it I am a bitch and he goes and sulks for days. He is thin, he smokes a lot. He tries to quit but he becomes an ass. Now at 43 he thinks he needs HGH human growth hormones to help him feel better. Seriously we are losing this house because of his child support and lawyers and loans and now I can’t get $500 to fix my fricking car because I hit a deer and he don’t care that it is wrecked. It is crap well duh if we fix it it won’t be crap. Get up and do something he sits and sulks and is crabby and won’t do anything to get ready to move. I do all the house work and cooking and laundry and the boys and husband do nothing. We are losing our house get out of your funk and do something. I seriously want to run away!



I’m 38. Have 2 children 12 & 10, boy and a girl. A husband whom I’ve been with for 15 years. I work part time and 3 days a week watch my 2 month old nephew. My house is always a mess. there’s always laundry. My kids argue all the time. My husband never seems to be interested in what I have to say. I make chore charts for my kids to help out, which lasts about 3 days. My husband works A LOT. I am happier when not at home because all I do is clean up, cook, taxi the kids, and yell all the time. I’m on anti depressants, anxiety meds, sleeping pills, and muscle relaxers for my jaw. I’m in constnt pain from muscle spasms in my jaw and have been for almost a month. I seriously can not take it anymore. I am not suicidal. I would just rather be somewhere else other than home. I watch as my husband and kids relax and play together, while I do everything around the house. I am aware I have aided in my kids doing nothing for themselves but, it’s just easier than yelling when they won’t help me.



I am happy to read that I am not the only one. Was a single mom of two. I work ft and clean pt to make ends meet. I am a bad chooser of men so no support. I actually survived my oldest and got her in to college with lots of aid and loan but I am still proud! Unfortunately she hardly speaks to me because she has new freedom and seems angry I cant pay for her school and car. She refuses to get additional job, just victim mentality. Pretty upsetting since she had a strong hard worker as a mom but hoping someday she realizes NOTHING was given to me. My son is in hs. Doing well. I am a new wife but seriously still single mom, just realize I gained another kid of sorts. Thought it would be better, financial better, and not alone. I feel like a nightmare. Im always easy to cry and angry more than ever. I am tired. I want to see light at end of tunnel but I feel so lost and desperately disappointed. I thought I found mr wonderful but when I am tore up, tired and crying he just gets angry and says I make everyone miserable. I don’t want to medicate, or start drinking. … just trying to run the dogs and feel better through exercise a few days a week when I can SQUEEZE it in. Ugh!


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