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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone,
First off - I couldn't find anything saying one way or another, so I hope men are welcome to post here.

Let me preface this post by saying that I care deeply about both my wife and our (age 5) daughter. I truly want them to be happy. I also (perhaps selfishly) want to be happy myself.

I was just never that interested in having kids. I married my wife in part because she felt the same. Everything was great for a while, but once we closed on our mid-30's she changed her mind and practically overnight DESPERATELY wanted a baby. I still didn't. I've never fully understood why. Probably partly because I'm an introvert and there are few things I love more than peace and quiet, partly because I have a fairly high-stress job and didn't want stress at home too, partly because I just genuinely do not enjoy the "kid stuff" so many other parents seem to enjoy (or at least tolerate better than I do). Anyways, I suppose it doesn't really matter at this point.

I spoke to my wife and a lot of other people I knew with kids about this issue. Everyone (wife, my parents, her parents, other family, friends, therapist, strangers online) told me I'd change my mind once I had kids. That once I held him/her, it all would change. My wife kept asking and asking. I even offered to leave since I didn't want to be what stood between her and having a kid. She made it very clear she wanted a kid WITH ME. This went on for a year. Eventually I trusted in what everyone else was telling me and gave in. I suppose I'm a fairly anxious person and figured it was anxiety driving my worries and I'd get over it. I was wrong.

As I am certain there are a lot of you here who love being parents, please don't take this personally. I appear to be wired differently than most and the next statement is about me only - but being a parent has made me MISERABLE. The constant work, the constant noise, the constant stress, all the messes, the inability to be spontaneous, the obligatory "kid" activities we go to, I could go on and on. Basically, everything that I worried about in advance turned out to be WORSE than expected and I learned about some new ones too. And the worst part is that I have to hide all of this. NONE of this is my daughter's fault and I don't want her to know what is going on in my head, but as she gets older I worry she is starting to pick up signs. Me constantly trying to be at the opposite end of the house. Me staying at work late and going in on weekends. At first, I thought it would get better as she got older. It hasn't. If anything it seems to be getting worse. I tried talking with some friends and family about it. Some were judgmental. Others basically just said "You are a parent now, you do what you need to do." My wife is somewhat clued in, but I don't think really understands and she certainly gets upset at times when I'm not as happy about things as she feels like I should be. She does try to take on a larger portion of the parenting workload but she also works and ISN'T a single mom, so shouldn't have to live like one. But I appear to be broken somehow and what everyone said would happen didn't. I feel little attachment to my daughter. I feel less attachment to my wife than I had before. I've turned into a miserable, angry and (this last one is tough for me to admit) a somewhat resentful person. This is not the life I wanted for myself. This is not the life I worked so hard for so many years to build.

Despite all this, I try my best. I put on the smile. I fake excitement. I go through the motions. I think I do at least a halfway decent job at it, but its an act. And I feel like constantly having to act is just making things worse. I've gone to therapy. I've tried medications. It all seems to boil down to the fact that I made a terrible, terrible mistake by trusting others rather than myself. One that I can't exactly turn back the clock on. Part of what helped me realize this is that I've started living for those very infrequent occasions I travel for work (usually 1-2x/year). The chains are off and I'm alive again.

I don't know what to do. I've never walked away from a responsibility in my life, but a part of me just wants to pack up and leave. Child support could be a small price to pay for an escape. I don't want to be that person, but I'm increasingly thinking that life is too short to spend feeling like this. I also don't know that my miserable/angry/resentful self being around is good for them anyways. My wife doesn't want me to go anywhere and I think as long as I can continue to put on the show that things are fine. Money would be very tight, but I've considered getting a separate apartment for a while just to have an escape.

I love my wife. You likely doubt this statement (and I get it if you do), but I do love my daughter. I want very badly for them to be happy. Heck, I got myself into this mess in the first place trying to make my wife happy. However, I feel like I've given up every last drop of my own happiness for them and I can't deal with much more of this.

Help?
 

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*If any of the following sounds rude, it's not meant to be. Just trying to cut to the chase.*

I'd say that you have two choices. You can either leave or try harder to be the husband and father that your family deserves. You're right, your wife is not a single mom but you are making her one by purposely leaving her alone so much. She said she wanted a baby *with you* and you agreed. No one is responsible for that choice but you. You agreed to have a baby with her and now want out of the deal. I think you have to decide one way or the other though, you can't keep coasting along in the middle. You will both feel better when you make a decision. I'm sure the uncertainty is making you both miserable.

For what it's worth, I am a single mom of 3 boys. Their father and I divorced when my youngest was still a baby. My oldest has autism. They're 3, 5 and 7. I am also an introvert and prefer quiet and peace. Sometimes I get depressed because I need to "recharge" with alone time but don't get it. But I made the choice to have them. I don't get the choice to "escape". I do know, however, that they will not be around forever. When they are grown I will have my peace and quiet again. :)
 

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I'm thinking

That something in the past has given you this screwed up world view. It seems to me you already ARE separated from your wife and family in thought if not in practice. A lot of people equate caring for others as something unworthy, something that lessens a person, but a lot of those people are immature. I will openly admit I am not a people person, I don't as a general rule love everyone else's dogs and children, but I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect if they are reasonable with me. You are not being very respectful or kind towards your family, the people in your life who deserve it most as they put up with your bs every single day of the week. Seeing your family as a time wasting, life draining burden is not love. Love allows you to see others faults and limitations and embrace them anyway. Unconditional love. Love that doesn't stop just because you are let down or disappointed. Maybe you are saying you love them to somehow redeem yourself. You yourself seem to be lacking something, maybe that is what you are running from.
 

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I think some therapy could really help. To me, you sound depressed. You said you're prone to anxiety. I think there's a doctor out there who can help you. Everything looks worse when you're depressed.

Also, things WILL get easier as she gets older. You're right at the cusp now. Is there something you 2 can do together that's quiet, peaceful and you'll both like. Maybe a bike ride through a forest preserve. Maybe some sport you like, like fishing or tennis or golf. Is there a book series you liked as a kid? I've found the most peaceful times with my older kids while reading out loud to them. They're proficient readers, but still love to be read aloud to. We're just in the middle of the Percy Jackson series now. Reading aloud is great for me. I'm also an introvert and enjoy the peaceful time of reading a book. And, now, I can be with the kids, keep them happy and have a positive interaction all the way around.

First, work on your mental health, anxiety, depression whatever.

Second, find your parenting style. Not every parent is this gung ho, do everything, rah rah rah kind of parent. Some parents are quiet, peaceful kinds who like watching a movie on the couch and a snuggle under the blanket. Or the take a few hours to walk the golf course with your daughter kind of dad.

Find the balance with your child and your wife and you. It's there. You just have to look for it.
 
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Being a parent is truly hard.

I'm an introvert. I became a single mother when I was 17 and I wasn't particularly well-suited to the job although it got easier as I got older.

And yet...despite all my failures my daughter and I love each other and she turned out to be a great person.

I think part of the problem is that you don't feel free to actually be who you are around your daughter. You've got all these preconceptions of HOW to be a parent and some of them may be standing in the way of you being yourself in a natural way AND being a father.

Parents can be introverts. I'm one.

Try just sitting quietly and observing your daughter. Who is she? What does she like to do? Do you and she have anything in common at all? You probably do.

And stop going for the guilt sweepstakes! Doesn't help. You do need private time. It is part of who you are. You also need time to be with your wife and just your wife. Figure out how to get that.

Find one activity that you can actually enjoy with your daughter. Climbing trees? Riding bikes? Going on hikes? Reading? Listening to music? Going grocery shopping? Commit to that one activity, say, once a week. You are a grown-up. With a bit of teeth gritting you can manage to do one activity with your daughter once a week. And then you'll feel a tiny bit better. Not much. Just a dab.

Unrealistic expectations are a burden. You are utterly right that not all people are suited to being parents. But there you are. You did it. See if you can find a way into where you are.

Children eventually turn into grown-ups. You might really appreciate having a grown-up daughter some day.
 

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I agree with Deborah and Xerxella.

I think counselling is a very good idea. Specifically I think you need someone who doesn't just validate your sense of resentment and frustration but acknowledges it and *then* helps you to develop strategies to move past it.

Medication may also be useful. You will need to discuss that with your doctor. Medication and counselling are usually more beneficial together than either one singly. Be aware that it can take six weeks for medication to start working and it sometimes requires 2-3 changes of drug to find the right one for you.


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I agree with Deborah and Xerxella.

I think counselling is a very good idea. Specifically I think you need someone who doesn't just validate your sense of resentment and frustration but acknowledges it and *then* helps you to develop strategies to move past it.

Medication may also be useful. You will need to discuss that with your doctor. Medication and counselling are usually more beneficial together than either one singly. Be aware that it can take six weeks for medication to start working and it sometimes requires 2-3 changes of drug to find the right one for you.


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He did say that he has already tried therapy and medication but I agree that if he didn't give it at least a few months to work/try different meds he should try again.
 
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Yes, I probably should have said, I think the OP should go *back* to counselling.


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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Mamabear - no worries at all RE: the tone. I've heard worse. It sounds like you are voting for separation though (not that I'm taking a poll to determine my life). I went "all in" for the first 4 years and this is where it led me. I admit there were slips here and there, but I really did give it my all. I "faked" as hard as I could. I'm at a point where I can't fake anymore.

mumto - Unquestionably, I didn't have the best childhood. Too much responsibility too young (long story). Am I screwed up? Maybe. I can't change the past though, I just need to figure out how to move on. I'm not sure having to put on a big shit-eating grin and live a different life than the one I want is moving on though. More to the point, its killing me to do it.

RE: therapy - I've gone down that road with 3 therapists. It didn't get me much of anywhere. I'm honestly not sure its worth doing again. Meds do nothing for me, I've tried about 5 at this point.

I somewhat agree with others about not being able to find my style. I think my two biggest issues are the loss of trust I have in those around me (who I feel misled me about virtually every single aspect of this experience) and the fact that I pretty much have not been allowed to be "me" since the moment we found out my wife was pregnant. We agreed going into this that this was something I was going along with to make her happy and was not all that excited about. Beforehand, everyone had me convinced that "Oh it will change." She gets pregnant. As expected I'm not that excited. Immediately I start getting told "You need to GET excited," otherwise I'm apparently not being supportive enough. Let me be clear here - I'm still doing all the things I'm "supposed" to be doing. Getting the house ready, going with her to appointments. I went to the birthing classes. Etc. I start faking excitement, because apparently I have to do that too.

I won't give you the full narrative, but that is a pattern that has played out repeatedly since that time. Every single negative emotion I have is invalid. I cry in secret because I'm not allowed to hate this. I go sit at the damn park full of screaming toddlers when I'd rather be curled up with a book at home (or at work, or traveling, or just about anything else)...but that is what is expected of me. And if I mention that I don't like doing it....I catch flak for it endlessly until I say screw it and go anyways. Then I catch flak because I'm not happy enough about going..or I'm not "interactive" enough when I'm there. The fakeness of this all is what is killing me. I'm so effing tired of feeling like I have to be someone who I'm not. And if I EVER dare to bring up that I KNEW all of these things about myself in advance and that it was everyone else who told me otherwise, that I KNEW I wasn't going to be good at this and that "I" was not the one who pushed for this every damn day for over a year....let's just say that doesn't go over well...
 

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John, when you tried therapy, did that include couples or family therapy? It sounds like a big contributor to your suffering is the way your spouse and/or family and friends respond to you with more judgment than empathy. Also, do you have friends or family who "get" you, who can listen and champion you for yourself rather than trying to make you into the kind of parent (and person) you aren't? Being put in the position of being inauthentic and feeling like an impostor must be agonizing.

I'm an introverted, quiet- and order-loving parent to a live wire of a 3.5-year-old daughter. My husband and I almost didn't get married because he wanted to have children and I didn't. We compromised on one child, with the understanding that he'd be the primary parent and I'd be the primary wage-earner. Friends and family gave me similar reassurances to the ones you heard: that I'd change my mind and love being a parent once that happened.

Now that I am a parent, I've found that they were half right. I'm continually amazed by the deep, intense love I have for my daughter. She's a neat little person, and I'm enthralled by her. Especially after experiencing fertility problems, she's a gift for whom I feel thankful daily. However, I still get annoyed at all the stuff that annoyed me about little kids before I had one. The incessant chatter makes me want to pull out my hair. It drives me bats how she leaves the detritus of one project behind for us to clean up while she jets off to the next enthusiasm. She can be so darn silly, and I don't want to hear about body functions all day (accompanied by that cute but pesky giggle). Going to the playground is purgatory, between keeping her from getting pounded on by more aggressive kids and just having to endure all the shrill, high-pitched sounds.

What's helped me immensely is that there's no pressure on me from my spouse, immediate family, or friends to be inauthentic. They all know I'm not the one to take her to the children's museum or the playground, and that my husband is temperamentally suited to be a full-time parent while I'm not. They know I need "quiet breaks" to recharge after a concentrated dose of my delightful and distracting little one. My in-laws don't get it (they think it's weird that I don't fit their notion of a loving mother and keep trying to "help" my husband "get away" from our daughter, whom he genuinely enjoys being around all day long). However, I have enough supportive people who are close to me that I can let my parenting strengths shine (our little one loves how I can do a marathon read-aloud session or hike with her for hours) and I can stretch beyond my comfort zone in the presence of those who understand me and aren't trying to fix what's "wrong" with me. With all this support, I feel free to enjoy my child in my own way and not to be the type of parent I'm not.

A counselor once gave me a wonderful piece of advice about my difficult in-laws. She said, "Sometimes we need to teach people how to love us." With some of my in-laws, we were able to do this; for others, we just had to limit contact with them, for our own sanity and our daughter's.

I hope these ideas are helpful for you.

Mar
 

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who's asking you to be fake?

I never ever mentioned shit eating grins. Your daughter is a person, try to respect her for who she is. Don't condescend. My son is super verbal. SUPER verbal. Has been since he was less than 2. He's obstinate and opinionated and intense. It's been hard for me as I am a fairly quiet introverted conflict avoider. I think we're both ADD. It's sure hasn't been easy. I signed him up for a couple of days of daycare when he was little to cope not because I had a job. I even took a week vacation when my son was 2 because I was about to jump off a bridge. We read a lot of books and took a lot of walks. I try to remember to practice my art, something that grounds me. I share what I can with my son, I try to support him in his interests. I guess where I live (and with the friends I have) there's enough different kinds of people and families that there's less pressure to conform, I don't know what community you are in. Parenting erodes your sense of self but you don't have to and should not make yourself into a martyr.
 

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I honestly don't think you are suffering from an absolute inability to be a parent. It sounds like you are suffering from an inability to be the sort of person you actually are while being a parent.

You are being mistreated by friends and relatives who keep demanding that you behave in ways that are utterly inauthentic for you.

Crazy. I can't imagine putting up with that for years, frankly.

A certain amount of social adaptation is required to live in the world, but years of pretending to be someone you are not? You might as well be stuck being a Victorian wife and mother...



Mamabear - no worries at all RE: the tone. I've heard worse. It sounds like you are voting for separation though (not that I'm taking a poll to determine my life). I went "all in" for the first 4 years and this is where it led me. I admit there were slips here and there, but I really did give it my all. I "faked" as hard as I could. I'm at a point where I can't fake anymore.

mumto - Unquestionably, I didn't have the best childhood. Too much responsibility too young (long story). Am I screwed up? Maybe. I can't change the past though, I just need to figure out how to move on. I'm not sure having to put on a big shit-eating grin and live a different life than the one I want is moving on though. More to the point, its killing me to do it.

RE: therapy - I've gone down that road with 3 therapists. It didn't get me much of anywhere. I'm honestly not sure its worth doing again. Meds do nothing for me, I've tried about 5 at this point.

I somewhat agree with others about not being able to find my style. I think my two biggest issues are the loss of trust I have in those around me (who I feel misled me about virtually every single aspect of this experience) and the fact that I pretty much have not been allowed to be "me" since the moment we found out my wife was pregnant. We agreed going into this that this was something I was going along with to make her happy and was not all that excited about. Beforehand, everyone had me convinced that "Oh it will change." She gets pregnant. As expected I'm not that excited. Immediately I start getting told "You need to GET excited," otherwise I'm apparently not being supportive enough. Let me be clear here - I'm still doing all the things I'm "supposed" to be doing. Getting the house ready, going with her to appointments. I went to the birthing classes. Etc. I start faking excitement, because apparently I have to do that too.

I won't give you the full narrative, but that is a pattern that has played out repeatedly since that time. Every single negative emotion I have is invalid. I cry in secret because I'm not allowed to hate this. I go sit at the damn park full of screaming toddlers when I'd rather be curled up with a book at home (or at work, or traveling, or just about anything else)...but that is what is expected of me. And if I mention that I don't like doing it....I catch flak for it endlessly until I say screw it and go anyways. Then I catch flak because I'm not happy enough about going..or I'm not "interactive" enough when I'm there. The fakeness of this all is what is killing me. I'm so effing tired of feeling like I have to be someone who I'm not. And if I EVER dare to bring up that I KNEW all of these things about myself in advance and that it was everyone else who told me otherwise, that I KNEW I wasn't going to be good at this and that "I" was not the one who pushed for this every damn day for over a year....let's just say that doesn't go over well...
 

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It sounds to me like you have defined what a "normal" dad is supposed to think and feel, and because you don't, you assume you are a failure. And that makes you miserable.

I suspect you also have not defined boundaries in your life to define how to handle things like parenting obligations. Instead, I suspect you have painted an exhausting and unrealistic image of how you are supposed to act as a dad, and it doesn't mesh at all with who you really are.

For example:
You are NOT required to go to all the activities. It used to be that parents rarely did. These days society judges people for not be 100% attentive to everything their child does. But the reality is that you have to have a balance. It's not healthy to be 100% invested in everything your child is doing.

I would suggest instead of giving up, you have a very candid conversation with your wife about what makes you happy, and what you need in your marriage.

What kind of role would satisfy your need for peace? Is there way to stay where you are, and redefine your boundaries? You may also want to analyze what deep down is the issue.

Here's some prespective from my childhood:
My parents don't like kids. They are pretty honest about it. They love us kids, but parenting isn't their favorite thing. As a kid, my parents were STRICT, and we had a lot of chores. If we conplained, or said we were bored, we got MORE chores. And parent participation was sporadic. My mom went to occasional choir concerts (not all of them), and would attend one night of the play. Even when I had a lead role, it was a miracle if more than just my mom showed up. And never for more than the one night. I think my dad only attended maybe on play when I was in high school. That was it. He never attended anything, and I wasn't too worried about it.

But my parents loved each other. And they wanted us to be balanced, and we felt loved. Did we have the "perfect" parents? Not even close by today's standards. But all 3 of us kids are now extremely successful adults, and our parents are still happily married.

Society these days can put a lot of stress on parents. What happens if you push back and try a more balanced approach?
 

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Yeah that!
 

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I agree

But I see other possibilities as well, such as a poor relationship with his own family, a lack of useful role models, a poorly defined sense of self. Also possible, anger at "normal" families and not being able to give his daughter what she wants/needs because he did not have what he needed/wanted when he was a child, so resentment, sadness etc. If he's waiting for others to define him, then that might lead to a feeling of inauthenticity, hollowness. That is what I meant by a screwed up world view. Having children forces you to consider your relationship with your own parents/family/community, forces you to be the more magnaminious, mature what have you adult.
 
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