The toughest time as a mother is when your child is a newborn, right? The sleepless nights, the crying, the vomit and poo, the shock of it all.
Yeah, it’s tough. It’s stressful. It’s exhausting. But apparently, there’s a tougher time.
A recent study in the US has found that mothers of 11- and 12-year-olds suffer the lowest levels of happiness and the highest levels of stress.
At first I found this hard to believe. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it started to make. When my kids were babies, I could almost always make things right for them. Most of their problems could be solved by a feed or a cuddle or a clean nappy. It was hard, but it was doable.
Watch: The facts on postnatal depression. Post continues after video.
Now my daughter is nearly 10, and she still keeps me awake at night, but for different reasons. She wants to do more things on her own, and have her own space. I worry that she’s going to stop being so chatty with me, and won’t want to hug me and snuggle me, like she does now. I worry that she’s going to have a hard time at school over the next few years, as her classmates get older and more judgemental. I worry about puberty and the complications that’s going to bring. I worry about all the problems I’m not going to be able to solve.
It’s tough in a whole new way.
When a feed or a cuddle won't help. Image via iStock.
The US study was carried out by Professor Suniya Luthar from Arizona State University and Assistant Professor Lucia Ciciolla from Oklahoma State University. They interviewed more than 2,000 well-educated mothers with children ranging in age from babies to young adults.
They found that mothers of tweens reported feeling lonely, empty and dissatisfied, and were most likely to suffer depression. Even mothers of teens were happier.