If I am Living my Dream Life, Why am I so Depressed?

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Before I start getting phone calls and frantic e-mails from family and friends, let me just say that I am fine.  No need to check on me.  (Although I’m always happy to receive phone calls, emails, text messages and even a surprise vanilla latte, Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets in the mail or even a Vitamix from people, just to say they are thinking about me.)  I’m fine.  Really.

However, this question was word for word what came out of my chef/husband’s mouth one day a few years ago and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately as I’ve been struggling with a few things here at home.

 

if i am living my dream life why am i so depressed

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At the time, I was depressed and really upset.  The things I was depressed about and struggling with were hard for him to understand because I was doing exactly what I had always wanted to do since 3rd grade.  Thus, the reason for the question.

If you are living your dream life, why are you so depressed?

So what is this dream life I had envisioned ever since the 3rd grade?  I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, get married, have kids and then stay at home with my kids.

My real life – I got married, became a teacher, had kids and stay at home with them.  Different order, but yes I was (and am) living my dream life.   Not everyone can say they are living it, but I can.

So why was I so depressed?

My answer is probably not going to be a big surprise to any chef’s wife, parent or stay at home mom.  It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be and not at all what I thought it would be.  Being a parent is so hard!!  Having a chef/husband who works 70-80 hours a week is hard!!!

In my dream life or naïve thinking I envisioned having this beautiful baby who I would dress in adorable outfits, go fun places with all the time, be able to hire babysitters to watch the baby so my husband and I could go out on dates, have time during the day to clean and cook so when my husband came home from work we could spend the evening together as a family. (Because all husbands are home from work by dinner time, right?)  Everything would be perfect.

So now the comparison to my real life at the time (or at least what I thought of it before this conversation with my chef/husband):

Able to dress daughter in adorable clothes thanks to Grandma who spoils us with cute outfits. Check!  Without her generosity, our daughter would have been in the same few outfits all the time because money was very tight after cutting our income in half!

We were able to go places all the time as long as I could walk there with the stroller.  We only had one car, which my husband took to work.  Fortunately we were living in Southern California instead of up here in the land of constant rain, so walking places was an option most days of the year.  We often walked to the park and very occasionally walked to Starbucks.  (See note above about cutting out half our income.)

Hire babysitters to watch the baby so my husband and I could go out on dates.  See comment above about cutting our income in half.  Reality was to ask my sweet friend next door or down the street to do a babysitting swap so we could go out on a date.  Then attempt to find a date that fit in our budget.  Again, grateful we lived in the land of sunshine and not rain!

Have time during the day to clean and cook so when my husband came home from work, we could spend the evening together as a family.  Yes I did have time to clean and cook.  That was not what I was struggling with.  It was the husband coming home for dinner and spending the evening together as a family part that was hard.

Growing up, my Dad was always home for dinner.  He worked a 9-5 job.  So did all of my friend’s Dads.  I just thought that was what everyone did.  I obviously did not have any close friends whose Dads were a chef, police officer, doctor, etc.  So this was a bit of a shock.  I was alone with the baby so much.  And while I had activities to go to a few times a week, and friends that lived very close by, I was so lonely.  I felt like I had no one to talk to.  2 am is really not the best time to spill your guts to your exhausted chef/husband as he’s walking in the door.

And spending time as a family, while it did happen, did not happen every night.  Working the line in a professional kitchen is exhausting!  When my chef/husband was home, he was tired and needed some time to rest.

This was not the life I had dreamed of.

So that was my perspective.  That was the “horrible” life I was living and was so depressed about.

My chef/husband’s perspective was different.  He truly didn’t understand why I was so depressed when I was clearly doing what I had always wanted to do.

I don’t know about other husbands, but mine is very wise.  He is very level headed and is able to look at a situation and evaluate it and give a very realistic perspective on things.  Fortunately he asked me this question in a very loving way instead of telling me how stupid and selfish I was being.  But, as he asked me this and I started to think about it, I felt like I was just hit by a semi-truck.  BAM!

Why was I so depressed?  Why was I not content with my life?  Why was I focusing on all the “negative” things in my life?  There were far more positive things than negative.

Looking at my life in light of this comment made by my husband looks pretty different.

My husband had a job that allowed me to stay home.  We only had one car, I clipped coupons, stockpiled things when they were a good deal, was creative with gifts and date nights, etc.  Money was tight, but by the grace of God we somehow made it each month!

We were all healthy.

We lived in a small, but nice house (next door to good friends – best thing EVER!!)

We lived within 1 hour of our parents.  (Took that one for granted. Now they live 19 hours away!)

Attended a wonderful church where the Word of God was preached, without compromise, week after week.

We had many friends in the same phase of life as were.

It was sunny.  (Took that for granted too.  Hello Pacific Northwest rain!)

We had food, clothes and could pay our bills on time (most of the time.)

We were alive and every day was a new day.  God’s mercies are new every morning.

We had a Savior who promises to never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5)

Well, when you look at it that way, it’s pretty obvious.  Without realizing it, I was choosing discontentment instead of contentment.  I was allowing these little inconveniences, loneliness and my “dream life” to ruin the life God had given me.  Instead of focusing on what God had given me, I was focusing on what I thought I was missing out on or on what I thought life should be like.  I thought life was so hard.

Years later, I still struggle with some of these things, loneliness being the biggest.  I will probably always struggle with that because of the hours my chef/husband works.  Rarely is he home for dinner as he’s cooking for others.  I’m not complaining, just stating the obvious here.  That’s our reality and I’m content with that.  I’m grateful for my husband’s job.

However, I do have the choice of whether or not to let that loneliness ruin my day.  I can sit at home and choose to grumble and complain to myself about it, or I can choose to be content, not necessarily happy that I’m lonely, but content with where God has me in life, because I know it’s part of His plan and that this is where He wants me.  (Philippians 4:4-14 comes to mind.  Paul is talking about his circumstances and sharing that he has learned to be content in whatever situation God has placed him in (prison being one of them.))

On the days I choose to grumble it ALWAYS makes for a horrible day with our kids.  It’s not easy to CHOOSE contentment, but I need to!  Every day!

Anyone else struggle with this?  I would guess I’m not alone.

From one chef’s wife to another,

Jennifer

 

 

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UPDATE:  Just came across another post on contentment over on NotJustAnyone.org that I loved.  Just passing it on as I think many of you might be interested!

11 Comments

  1. Monique

    Yes, I’ve struggled with this as well. It’s so easy to focus on what you don’t have as opposed to what you do have. God’s blessings come in so many forms. One of the things that gets me through is my morning devotion books. I read, write, pray and then start the day. It always seems like it was written just for me. So glad you are choosing contentment no matter the situation.

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      My days always go better when I start off in the Word as well. 🙂 Thanks Monique.

      Reply
  2. Kelli McIntosh

    You are definitely not alone and I really needed to read this. I have commented on your posts before because I can relate (husband is a semi-truck driver, working 65 hours per week, 3rd shift). On my blog not long ago, I posted “How to Find Contentment.” I have had to read my own post again when I am starting to feel discontent! It is hard sometimes!

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      I remember you and actually follow your blog and follow you on FB . . . just never put the two (or three) together!!

      I went and searched for the blog post – http://www.notjustanyone.org/2014/03/10/how-to-find-contentment-guest-post-for-i-love-devotionals/.

      Beautifully written!! And what a great prayer to end with at the bottom of the post. “Pray: Jesus, help me to look at my present circumstances from Your perspective. I want to trust You and rely on Your strength to find contentment.”

      (On a totally different note, I once read that when you link to your blog when commenting on someone else’s blog, to link to a specific page or category that goes along with what their blog post is about instead of just your main page. So for example, I just commented on your post 🙂 and instead of just leaving a generic link to my site, I left a link to this specific post. I thought that was a brilliant idea!! Wish I could remember when I read it, but am so glad I did. It makes so much sense!)

      Reply
  3. Neyssa

    Oh yes! The battle with loneliness is real. I seriously have like 4 people I call. My husband works 10 hour shifts and commutes 2 hours, one way, each day. It will get better, keep counting your blessings on those hard days. 🙂
    Neyssa recently posted…Let Your Husband InMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      That is a horrible commute!! We are blessed with so much, sometimes we just forget and need a reminder!! Glad you have your 4 people to call! I have mine too Neyssa. 🙂
      Jennifer recently posted…The Struggles of a Chef Wife – LonelinessMy Profile

      Reply
  4. Amy Fuller Ledo

    Jennifer I love you and all of your posts!! I really needed to read this today!! Thank you for being here! And on FB

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      Thanks Amy. 🙂 Glad we have each other!!

      Reply
  5. Mandie

    I really love this blog- I’m a second grade teacher who loves her husband, we’re just starting to try for a baby (that’s a God thing, but open whenever). So many sweet friends and close to family- but I have such a hard time going to church alone. He goes on the very rare Sunday morning he can get off, but the owners of his restaurant are Jewish and also have inventory planned for Sunday mornings and as a manager he has to be there. We did join a Bible study during the week together, but his days off change and it feels like we cram so much life into those two nights. Any chance you have walked this path? Any advice on sharing faith when we can’t attend a worship service together?

    Reply
    • Jennifer

      There were a few periods of time over the years that we would get up around the same time and spend time reading, discussing the Bible and praying together. One of us was usually tired, but it worked well. I know it’s hard, but don’t give up!!
      Jennifer recently posted…I Told Myself I Would Never Be “THAT” Blog…My Profile

      Reply

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