Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

My Name is Lexi

Posted on Jan 21, 2009 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Rants |

I’ve got a Starbucks name: Lexi. A lot of folks in my family have a Starbucks name (formerly known in my single days as my bar name), Spike, Fanny, Phyllis. I’m Lexi.

Lexi stands for Lexapro, the antidepressant I’ve been taking for two years. Better known at the happy pills, the meds, the livesaver, the be-more-of-me drug. I take such a low dosage of Lexapro that Scientologists probably get happier from smelling glue.

I know a frigging truckload of Stay-at-Home-Moms (SAHMS) that take some sort of anti-depressants. I’ve been thinking a lot about the SAHM culture the past week after four friends all were complaining of the blues.

Now before you start rubbing you play your micro-violin for me or tell me how SAHMs have been around for centuries or how lucky I am, let me tell you one thing: shut up. :) I know how lucky I am, as do my friends who are going through similar struggles. Being fortunate and having the blues are not related. Lucky, wealthy, mentally healthy, HAPPY people get the blues.

I read an article years ago — some special edition of Newsweek or one of those — about the depression and the stay-at-home-mom. It described the upper-middle class SAHM as one of the most depressed in our society: Get up, get on eliptical, get kids up, throw on clothes passing over the nice ones you used to wear as an executive, go into enclosed garage, get in car, drop kids at school, run errands, pick up kids at school, go home into enclosed garage, make dinner, go to bed. The article described the solitary life that is lived by these women. Relatively no human interaction, no use of their natural senses (smell of a subway, taste of a street vendor’s pretzel, touch of a crowded elevator). I’ve been crawling the web for this study, but have yet to find it. I remember, although not a parent at the time, that story really moved me. If you find it, sent it to me.

Why do so many SAHMS have the blues this time of year? There are too many of us in my small community to warrant it a coincidence. When I looked up the subject on Google, I got a zillion born-again Christians who tell you how great it is to be a SAHM (and inevitably a handful of recipes from making playdough to Wal-Mart dinners). On the other end are the SAHMs that are not in a happy, supportive environment like I am with blog headlines like “Fucked in Brooklyn” Those are the ones that kill me. Oh for god sake. And, if one more blog tells me that laughter is the best medicine…

Upper Middle Class SAHMS like me, are happy, smart, well-adjusted women. We’re brainy enough to have playground banter that goes beyond PB&J; we rally our local communities (just ask a certain County Supervisor who met me an a brigade of 100 at the local park when we demanded it fixed); we raise our children with conviction and humility and passion. We’re educated and we know how to take care of ourselves, even if it is a $10 copay on a good SSRI.

So what’s the deal this time of year? Here’s what I think:

* We put it all together for the holidays, we make everything warm and exciting and enticing. Then, come the first week of January, it’s all gone.

* We get to have almost a full month of family time — Thanksgiving through New Year’s we get our children, our spouses, our extended families. We get physically hugged more, spoken to, engaged with. Then, come the first week of January, everyone goes back to their lives, school, homes and the touching and warmth is gone.

* We get to have expanded or contracted budgets to accommodate the holidays — buy different foods at the grocery store, go shopping for gifts and special occasion clothes for our families. Then, come the first week of January, all of us are broke and the fun is gone.

* We get to engage with food that isn’t mac & cheese. We make family dishes during the holiday season, splurges, cookies, candies, tamales and cioppino. We get to drink more too (what a holiday without some Cheer?) — Then, come the first week of January, it’s gone and we’re left with five extra pounds and a worn-out liver.

* We get to spoil our children with toys and activities and make-your-own gingerbread houses to celebrate the season. We get to give them special treats and stay out late and go on tours of the lights and displays all around town. Then, come the first week of January, the lights are down, it’s cold and dark and the fun is gone.

What’s the solution? I’m guessing, there isn’t one. We, my dear friends, are doing a great job. And as my mom says, most things in life need a 1% course correction, not a sweeping 180-degree turn. I think, for me, knowing that the SAHM blues are valid this time of year is, for the most part, enough for me. And, knowing you’re having it too.

Chin up, friends. We’ve got ninjas to raise.


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