Single Mommy Blues

It seems we mothers spend a lot of time – and ink – talking about how hard it is to be a mother.

Numerous books, parenting blogs and websites are devoted to the topic. On playgrounds and playdates, mothers huddle together and talk about how incredibly difficult this motherhood game really is.

And yet the voices of some of us mothers mostly remain unheard.

The point of this post is not to compare notes to see which moms have it worst. Mothering is hard. It’s hard whether you’re single or married, whether you’re successfully co-parenting with a cooperative ex, or doing it all by yourself, whether you have the help of a village or only the help you are able to pay for.

But I want to talk about the special hardships faced by single mothers who are doing it alone. Really alone. Without the help of a reliable spouse, co-parent, or a network of friends or family members who pitch in whenever possible.

For several years after my divorce, I sacrificed having a personal life for the sake of my kids. Weekends were consumed by soccer, gymnastics, baseball, softball, tennis, golf, ice skating – you name an activity, we probably tried it. Dating? Hah! I wasn’t ready. Focusing on the kids was a great way to avoid thinking about how badly I’d flubbed the whole “picking the right partner” thing.

I didn’t become SuperMom because I wanted to. I did it because I lacked an alternative. I live in New York City. My family is in Michigan. My ex-husband was – and is -absent and uninvolved.

I had the help I was willing to pay for. I paid full-time rates for part-time babysitters to ensure I had someone to pick the kids up from school and care for them on half-days and school holidays. The extra expense killed my budget, but my work schedule was too demanding to enable me to rely on afterschool programs.

Recently, I tried co-parenting with my ex-husband, an experiment that now seems short-lived. His last overnight visit with the kids was New Year’s weekend. He is too unreliable to keep a regular visiting schedule, and I don’t have the energy to deal with the litany of excuses.

Although single parenting would be tough even if I worked at home, my demanding executive job makes the juggling even more difficult. Plus, in addition to my day job, I do speaking enagements and lectures. I write, for this blog and others, on my own time.

I even finally started dating again.

The writing, the dating, the lecturing, and some occasional exercise are things I do for myself. But they take away from the time I spend with my kids. I can no longer devote every weekend to their activities. And I feel incredibly guilty about it.

For example: my son is a natural baseball talent. Yet I don’t have time to take him to a baseball coach to work on his skills. I don’t have time – or a good enough pitching/throwing arm – to take him to the park and help him work on his catching, fielding and hitting. I haven’t found time to have him try out for a travel team – and even if he did, I’m not sure I would be able to haul him around from game to game.

His father, who played baseball in high school, takes no interest in his son’s baseball development. I get angry about this sometimes, and then I realize being angry is futile.

Well-meaning friends tell me to stop beating up on myself. They tell me to focus on the fact that, all by myself, I have raised smart, independent thinkers who are thriving in some of New York City’s most competitive schools.

I do acknowledge my blessings. But still, I’m tired. So please forgive me for indulging in a bit of whining.

Mothering is hard for all mothers. It is especially hard for us single women who are parenting completely by ourselves. And because we’re so used to doing everything all by ourselves, we don’t ask for help easily. Or always know how to accept it graciously, without constantly thanking the person who agreed to step in for us. Or apologizing for being burdensome.

So if you know a single mom who parents by herself, maybe you can offer her a little help. If your kids are friends, maybe you can offer to pick her kid up from school and host a playdate at your house. Or you can invite her kid to a weekend playdate or sleepover. Let her be the last parent to pick up her child from the birthday party. Because whether she says it or not, she values every single moment she gets to spend by herself. But she may not feel she has the right to ask for that time.

And try not to get too annoyed when she keeps saying “thank you.”

Is it (Attempted) Murder?

A mother was recently convicted of attempted murder for withholding cancer medication from her child, a child who subsequently died when his cancer returned after a period of remission. The mother admitted to withholding the medication, but defended herself by claiming that she did so because she thought the side effects of the medication were too harsh:

LaBrie said she told her son’s doctor two or three times that she was afraid that “he just had had it.”

“He was just not capable of getting through any more chemotherapy,” LaBrie said. “I really felt that it could out-villainize the disease — the medicine could — because he was very, very fragile.”

The little boy, only 7-8 years old at the time, was also severely autistic, and his mother was caring for him alone. She and the father had a contentious relationship, although after the child’s doctors found out that the child hadn’t been receiving the cancer treatments, the boy went to live with his father. The mother was suffering from depression at the time she chose to withhold the medication, but the doctors testified that they told her that her son had an 85-90% chance of surviving the cancer if she stuck to the medication plan. It was after it was discovered that the mother deviated from the plan that the doctors discovered that the cancer returned, and a year later the child was dead. (The father died in a car accident several months after the boy’s death.)

Murder is not a term to throw around lightly, and in fact, the law does not. Murder requires the intent to cause death, or at least to cause grievous bodily harm. Intent cannot be inferred from the results of one’s actions; in other words, just because someone dies, or is grievously harmed does not allow an inference that the person who caused such harm intended for it to happen. To charge murder, the prosecution has to show that regardless of outcome, the accused intended, through their conduct, to cause death.

This is an attempted murder charge, which simply means that the accused must intend to commit murder, which is already a crime of intent. So the accused must intend to intend to cause death – they must intend to do whatever will cause death and they must intend to actually accomplish the act, i.e., cause death. One cannot attempt murder unconsciously or involuntarily. Courts use many different tests to determine how far the accused has to go to actually attempt a crime, but in Massachusetts (where this case is from), the accused must take a substantial step and come “reasonably close” to executing the crime through an overt act. An overt act is the point of no return – “an overt act must be of the type that a reasonable person would expect to set off the events that would naturally result in accomplishing the crime but for an unforeseen interference.” Attempted murder is simply murder that was unsuccessful in actually producing death.

In this case, to convict this mother of attempted murder – and not just murder – the jury had to believe that this mother intended, through withholding the medications, for her child to die, but her conduct – withholding the medication – did not actually cause the child to die.

Am I the only one who sees a problem in this?

The doctors testified that there were five phases of treatment, and if all five phases were completed, the child had an 85-90% chance of survival. The mother testified that she followed through four of the phases to completion, but withheld only the fifth phase. When the doctors reexamined the child, that’s when they noticed the cancer had returned in a more aggressive form.

First, where is the intent to kill? Nothing in this article, at least, indicates that this mother intended to kill her child, or that she knew that in withholding the medication that death was certain to occur.

Second, and closely related, there was no guarantee that if the child completed the treatment completely, meaning all five phases, that he would survive. So no reasonable person would expect that not finishing all the phases would certainly lead to death. There was no overt act that creates the attempt to commit murder.

Third, the child died from cancer, but not the original type of cancer he once had. The fact that the child eventually died is really not relevant, but I’m sure that the prosecutor used the fact that the boy died to their advantage. They couldn’t charge her with murder because there is no way to prove that her withholding the drugs is what led to the cancer coming back and ultimately the child’s death. But ironically, if her conduct was attempted murder, then what stopped the attempt from being full-out murder? What stopped her conduct from producing the result that she intended? Again, its clear that there was no guarantee that the child would have survived had she given him the drugs, and no guarantee he would have died from withholding. Why did the jury find beyond a reasonable doubt that this woman intended for her child to die when no reasonable person would believe that death would be his outcome, and the prosecutor could not even charge murder because the causal chain is too tenuous?

We put a lot of pressure on moms to be superheroes. We expect them to make all the right choices, the choices we say we would have made. We chide them, punish them when they make a choice that turns out to be the wrong one, one that we think they should have chosen differently on. We expect mothers to be martyrs, and saints. We call them murderers when perhaps they were choosing compassion.We constantly second guess what they do, never really stopping to put ourselves in their shoes.

I hope this mother and her lawyer passionately pursue an appeal. While she is probably guilt-ridden, I don’t think she is guilty.

#blackparentquotes

I was all set to write something serious tonight, something that would really make us all stop and think. And then something came across my Twitter timeline that had me falling OUT and I just had to share it.

The hashtag was #blackparentquotes.

Sometimes I don’t get Black Twitter hashtags. This one I totally did. I obviously was raised by Black Parents. And I obviously am one. I found myself having heard or having said so many of them, I was simultaneously shocked and amused. Here are mine, that I came up with:

“Get your hands OFF my walls!”

My mother STILL says this. When I was a child, I could NOT understand. I never felt that my hands were dirty. But today – my walls are filthy. Why? CUZ I HAVEN’T TOLD MY KIDS TO KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF THE WALLS! Children have nasty hands. They refuse to use the banister to walk up the steps. As Andrea and I commiserated over Twitter, they act like they can’t stand on their own feet. Why are you leaning?! STAND UP!

[Child says something smart.] “Who you talkin’ to?”

My five-year-old is in this stage now where I say this probably every day. Now, back when I was growing up, this statement was followed by silence, actually waiting for a response. You had betta said, “Nobody,” so the retort would be, “That’s what I thought, cuz I know you wasn’t talkin’ to me like that.” Today, I’ll still say, “Who you talkin’ to?” but I will continue with a talk about being respectful and not talking to me that way. Then I’ll tell him how he should of said what he said. These kids don’t even know…

[Mom on the phone. Child is looking at the mom.] “Why you in my mouth?”

A variant is “Get out of my mouth!” Kids just don’t know how to eavesdrop on phone conversations without actually looking. I learned how to avoid that one quick. I don’t even talk on the phone now. But I do have to shuttle my kids away when I’m trying to have an adult conversation. I get the urge sometimes to say this, but I don’t think they’d get it.

[Mom and child walk into the store.] “Don’t ask for nothin’…”

This was just an ongoing instruction. She didn’t even have to say it.

Child: But [so-and-so’s] mom said they could do it! Mom: “Do I look like [so-and-so’s] mama?”

Nope. You sho’ ’nuff don’t.

“Put some shoes on your feet!”

That was my dad! All the time. I think it was a thing about stepping on something, or catching a cold. But I know it’s the reason  insist on walking barefoot in my house all. the. time. That’s the rebel in me.

“Just wait till we get home.”

I don’t say this. We’ve already had the spanking conversation on this site. Let me just say I have my spoon in the car. No need to wait.

And my favorite (can’t take credit for it though*):

Child: Mommy, can we go to McDonald’s? Mom: You got McDonald’s money?

YES! I say this to my kids ALL THE TIME!! It applies everywhere! “Mommy can we go…” “You got some money?” I try to make it clear to my children at all times that only people who earn money can spend money. They get money sometimes and they have to save some of it and they can spend some of it. But outside of that – naw. It even applies when my son wants to talk about stuff that is “his” – what?? Nope – if you don’t pay any bills in this house, then nothing belongs to you.

What are your favorite #blackparentquotes? Share in the comments!

* i am not a tweet stealer. that ish is not cool.

Trials and Tribulations

It ain’t easy being the parent without primary housing responsibilities. I won’t use terms like “custody” or “custodial” because we have not settled all of that officially.

But, it has its issues. One issue is finances. We argue over finances, tax claims, purchasing responsibilities, etc. We make agreements, one person renegs, and things fall apart. We were doing well before, but I think changes happened because of decisions I have made in my personal life that he does not agree with. He seems to be taking a more adversarial approach with me.

Another issue is time. When your child isn’t with you daily, it becomes easier to disconnect from parental obligations. When you only see your child on weekends, it is often like the child is temporarily stepping into your life, so you don’t make a lot of changes. I realized that in my new house, nothing indicates that I have a child. There are no toys scattered, no child’s bed, no pictures even save one magnet on my fridge. It isn’t a kid-friendly home by any means.

A final issue is missed opportunities. I miss everything. Part of it is because his father fails to inform me of when things happen. He claims he doesn’t want to interfere or intrude in my life. What? This is my son we’re talking about. How is telling me about a school event or development intrusion? It’s like he shuts me out intentionally. I resent that. And recognize that it makes me feel even more disconnected than I felt when he was around all of the time.

I realized things were becoming a grave issue when 4 days passed and I hadn’t spoken to him once. I’d asked his father to get him into the habit of calling me and not relying on me to call him. This isnt to say I have a problem with calling him, but I want him to begin to get used to the idea that whenever he wants to talk to me, he can pick up the phone and call me. His father agreed. I asked him this over a month ago and he has only called me twice. I got so caught up in my day-to-day life that days passed without me speaking to him and I hadn’t even really been impacted by it. I’d called a few times but either his father didn’t answer or he was in the bath or he was asleep.

I’m not feeling this at all.

He tells me that he has every intention of keeping him at least through the 4th grade. 5 more years of this? I don’t know man… what will it do to our relationship? And why do I feel more and more comfortable with that  idea?

I don’t know if that makes me a bad parent or just indicates that maybe I recognize what is best for my son in the long run.

In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for text-messaged pictures of what he is doing.

I had to ask if that was me, or daddy’s new girlfriend…

Inspiration

At the beginning of a new year, as I take time to re-evaluate things going on in my life, choices I’ve made, and experiences I’ve had over the last year, I come to the place of contemplating inspiration. Maybe we can think of it as motivation, though I think there are some variances in the definitions of the two words.

My greatest inspiration is my son. When I think of why I do just about everything I do, I always come back to him. My divorce, my weight loss, my move, my financial planning (thus my career choices), every thing I do, I do for him.  It’s interesting how someone so small, so young, so innocent can inspire me in so many ways. We’d like to think we’re supposed to be the inspirations for our children, and we are. I just offer that the level of inspiration we receive from them far outweighs that.

I wonder what I did before I was a mom. Wonder what fueled my decisions… what was my motivation. I can’t even remember and at this point, it doesn’t matter.

I wonder, though, what happens for those who lose their children. What becomes their inspiration or motivation? This forces me to consider how immensely changed my life was the moment I became a mother and how, in all of my efforts to do so, reclaiming the “me” before I had a child is impossible. I will never be that woman again. I might lament the loss of “freedom”, the loss of “fun”, the loss of being responsibility-free, but to what end? What I’ve gained, at the very least in form of inspiration, is incomparable, irreplaceable.

I love my son. I need my son. He inspires me.

Who inspires you?

What inspiration do you draw from your children?

What has becoming a parent changed for you, in terms of your goals/plans?

Killing My Superwoman…I think

I’m a Superwoman. But I don’t want to be.

But maybe I do.

The Superwoman concept, as applied to Black women, is often called a myth. As in it’s not really true. No one can do it all, really, people say. I beg to differ.

I am raising two children under the age of 5. Two boisterous, active, strong-willed, opinionated, brown beauties. I’m up at 6:30 am, with my kids doing dressing, breakfast, brushing of teeth, putting on of jackets, and the long, slow bike ride to day care every morning. I co-op at the day care at least once a week, three hour shifts taking care of not only my kids, but other peoples’ 3-5 year-olds as well. I don’t do it alone, I have the support of my wonderful husband, but we all know – in the early years, mommyhood is a 24-hour job.

I am a 4th year sociology PhD student and a law student. I am currently writing my dissertation proposal. When I defend it in January, I will be ABD. I don’t technically have to defend until May 2012, but my project requires collecting my own data over time, so defending early is necessary. I’m also taking law classes, at least two each quarter, six a year. Exams start next week. I do pro-bono work too, helping homeless people with disabilities get social security benefits.

Are you impressed yet?

I’m such a Superwoman, I simply have no time to take care of myself. Yoga? Meditation? Girl, by the end of the day, I am dog-tired, with all that mothering and student-ing I do all day. Eating better? Did I tell you about my stomach issues? Going to bed at a reasonable hour? But then how would I get to get in my twitter and facebook and nytimes and, my god, my TELEVISION time?

And furthermore, many of my needs are met by being a Superwoman. You are impressed, and I like impressing you. (Don’t act like you’re not.) You ask me, “how do you do it all?” and I can say, “I don’t know…” when I do know. It really feeds my ego. When I drop a ball, or a few, I have ready made excuses. Nothing is really ever my fault. I can fall apart and go to bed at 4pm and everyone understands. Or at least they should. And if they don’t understand, well, fuck ’em. I don’t care. (sniff.)

Don’t you see I need to be a Superwoman? I love Her.

She’s a superhero. For everyone.

Except me.

I have fibromyalgia, aches and pains over my entire body. And bipolar II, which is mostly depression in my case, with some highly damaging hypomanic episodes interspersed. I checked myself in the hospital 2 years ago. I have anxiety that grips my chest and makes me think I’m going to die. I have gastroparisis, where my stomach doesn’t empty in a normal way. It means I’m nauseous a lot, and have developed a fear of eating a lot of foods. I have to eat low fiber and low fat. That means I don’t eat a lot different foods. I have an irritable bladder, which means I have to pee constantly and it hurts, but I’m supposed to hold it to retrain my bladder. And I recently found out I have a virus that’s been suppressed for years but my immune system is weak so now its reared its ugly head.

My body is shutting down, saying its taking a break, forcing a time-out whether I want it or not. My Superwoman is killing me, from the inside out.

What will it take for me to kill my Superwoman, before She kills me? Obviously the fear of changing is greater than the pleasure derived from staying the same, even given the pain.

I want to change, be healthy, be the woman I urge other women to be. But if I kill Her, my Superwoman, who will I be?

Will you still be impressed with me?

Should I even care?

A Hot CocoaMama

I said I was going to do better. Since the new year I’ve been waking up my eyes with my favorite Lash Extract mascara and some black eyeliner. I found a new “formula” for my hair that includes Miss Jessie’s curly pudding, and Carol’s Daughter’s Hair Milk and Twi Leave-In Conditioner. It is, admittedly, the first time my natural hair hasn’t looked (as) dry since my Momma was doing my twists, lovingly and meticulously, with B&B.

I’ve been hot recently🙂 I presented a paper at MLA in some cute black leggings, my favorite purple dress and the mandatory tweed blazer; my version of the academic staple was fitted, and had the cutest coordinated hues of purple, pink and white. I even rocked my purple snakeskin pumps just to shake the boys up a bit.

Truth is I’ve been back and forth lately about how to “dress the part.” I spent the last three years on my feet/game in D.C. public schools, where jeans and sneaks often get you in the mood. Comfortable and relaxed I approached my day, energized, organized and with my sleeves rolled up, getting dirty with the best of ‘em. I was never as fly as my artsy, fashionista students, male and female, or as “professional” as my suited up veteran colleagues, but my look got the job done.

Over the winter break, in anticipation of my first class as “Dr. Me,” I cashed in on a merchandise credit at Tiffany’s and bought “everyday jewelry,” because I’ve found that looking plain has its perks. I am often the younger teacher that gets “mistaken,” for the student at work. Furthermore, the Plain Jane mommy routine does numbers when you are trying to get medical professionals to class you as warm, caring, educated and motivated, and you really need them to stop stigmatizing you and give the expertise your children need. I know . . . crazy!

All that being said I wish I was still turning heads, particularly mine, and then my husband’s, in that order🙂 I have this homegirl who has been putting me to shame for years!!!!! The other day I needed her bad, and she always comes through. My daughter was admitted to the hospital for “failure to thrive,” my two-year-old son was tearing up the place with “failure to stop cutting the f*%K up,” and my husband and I needed him gone! She came and rescued both of us on green stiletto pumps, in cute tight jeans, and with a full face of perfectly applied/neutral makeup. Her hair was in an upsweep, cause she knew she didn’t have that kind of time, but even the upsweep was still as eye-catching as the A-line on her trendy, grey coat.

She and I have talked about this!!! A few months ago, while driving cross-country, I confessed how boring and tired I think I look, and told her truthfully how I admired how absolutely flawless she always is, even though I have known for forever that it takes her waayyyy tooooooooo long in the bathroom. She told me, like a true friend, that I needed to take more time to care for myself, and that I was probably putting too much time into caring for my kids and my book project. She also told me what the hell she does for that long in the bathroom, and though the details are now fuzzy, it had something to do with exfoliating and pumice stones.

Often when I go to the barbershop to take years off my face with a razor blade eyebrow arch I tell my barber, Omar, and longtime friend, that I remember when I was cute. It’s normally couched in some conversation about how adorable his new wash girl is, or a tender quip at his receding hairline. He tells me that I’m still cute, which I know is to make me feel better, but thank God it works. I would love to feel that good all that time, and know that I really brought it on.


Mad Mommy: The What Ifs

She lost her babies because of a what if. Actually several what ifs.

“I couldn’t see living the rest of my life worrying and wondering what had happened, or what if she hadn’t taken her medicine, or what if she relapsed,” said Ms. Baker, who has four children of her own.

Ms. Baker was the gestational surrogate of twins for Amy and Scott Kehoe. None of the four adults involved in bringing the children to life are genetically related to the twins, but the Kehoes are the ones who chose the sperm and egg donors, chose Ms. Baker as a surrogate, and paid for all her medical expenses. Ms. Baker had previously served as a surrogate for other couples, and at first, days after the twins birth, stood in front of a judge and relinquished custody of the children to the Kehoes. But then she changed her mind*. Because of what ifs.

She changed her mind because what if Amy Kehoe, a woman who through some biological quirk could not have a child through her womb with her egg or her husband’s sperm, didn’t take her medication for some mental illness? What if her medication stopped working? I mean, what if she went all Susan Smith on her kids, or Andrea Yates, or Amber Hill? Women who all, because of mismanaged mental illness, went on to do the unspeakable to their children, children they were genetically related to, children they birthed from their womb.

Amber Hill was actually on her way to the hospital when her mismanaged depression got so severe to cause a psychotic break that factured her grip on reality.  I remember the day things, my depression**, got so bad that I knew I needed – must – go to the hospital. The day after my 28th birthday, I dropped my kids off at day care. I sat in my living room. And it felt like my world had come to an end. It had been building; the sadness, the hopelessness, the profound sense of nothingness. I was in so much pain – my body from fibromyalgia, my spirit from a sense of being very far from God. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating, I couldn’t concentrate. For the first time in my life, I was seriously looking for an exit plan. And at that moment, I knew the only way to save my life was to get someplace where I could totally let go and not even be responsible for me anymore.

Thank God I never felt I could do anything to hurt my children, but I doubt Amber Hill did either. Described as a lovely woman who loved her kids, her depression was simply (if that word even remotely captures it) not managed, and the depths of what was occurring in her brain caused a major malfunction and her children were the casualties. For most people with non-managed depression, they themselves become the casualty, as I thought I was going to be on March 18, 2009. But once its managed, usually with medication and therapy, most people with mental illness live like… well, most people. Up days and down days. Happy days and sad days. Days were you (figuratively) feel like you want to kill your kids. (Just joking. Really just joking.)

Does a history of mental illness, knowing what we know non-managed mental illness can lead to, make a woman unfit to be a mother when the child is not coming out of that woman’s womb? Or when a custody battle arises – what kind of information do we think is relevant to show whether a mother would be fit or not? I don’t think I’m getting divorced any time soon (if you know differently, I hope y’all got my back), but it is always in the back of my mind that with the right lawyer, the fact that I spent a week on the psychiatric unit of a hospital when my children were 1 and 3 years old surely cannot bode well for me. Or that I take 4 anti-depressant/anti-psychotic medications daily to manage bipolar disorder, and given my history, will likely need to take them for the rest of my life to function “well.” Or that I have to see a psychologist and psychiatrist on a regular schedule or that I’ve been in a day program.

I feel for Amy Kehoe, the woman who lost the babies in the surrogacy case. She’s had her illness under control for 8-9 years, and takes her medication faithfully. While Ms. Baker, the surrogate, has a genuine concern as she voices her what ifs, I hoped someone reminded her that life is all about what ifs. What if her husband got hit by a car and died as he rides his bike to work? Then the twins wouldn’t have the two parent home Ms. Baker imagined. What if she got breast cancer, and had to go through treatment, meaning the twins didn’t get the kind of care Ms. Baker expected them to receive. What if one of their other children developed mental illness, and perhaps became a threat to the babies? Then what?

And so what if Amy Kehoe did have a relapse, and dealt with it? Sometimes, I’m what what my therapist calls “fragile-stable,” meaning I’m okay, but I’m teetering near the edge. But I’m still parenting the best I know how. I’m still living. My kids are still growing and learning and laughing. And they are living too. No childhood is perfect. No family is perfect. No parent is perfect. No mother is perfect. I wish Ms. Baker, instead of worrying about the what ifs, had instead focused on the here and now, and saw in Amy Kehoe a woman who simply wanted to be a mommy.

* The law on the Kehoe surrogacy case concerns the fact that some states, like Michigan, do not enforce surrogacy contracts, so people like the Kehoes have no legal remedies when the surrogate decides to keep the babies, esp. when they have no biological ties to the children.

** I hope you all know, but I want to make clear – people like to throw around the saying, “I’m depressed.” Most times people mean they are sad, in the dumps, upset, about something. What I am talking about, and what these women were experiencing, is/was clinical depression, something that may or may not have been triggered by some event. Clinical depression has certain symptoms, that many times you cannot simply “get over” on your own. I was not depressed about anything. Contrary to popular opinion, while I may have been tired because I have two kids and am in grad school, that did not “cause” my depression. I’ve had depression since I was 16 years old, and probably developed Bipolar II in college, way before having kids or being in grad school. Depression is something in the brain, out of my control, although I can manage it, but not caused because I “do too much” (although doing too much can trigger symptoms). I really despise when people say that. I didn’t cause my depression or Bipolar because I’m ambitious or because I work too hard. I think all of it was already there. Now I am working to find out who *I* am under all the labels, and allow me, myself, and I, along with befriending the illnesses, to have a peaceful coexistence.  [Okay, off of my soapbox.]