Anyone else feel constrained by family life?


I got married when I was 23 and had a daughter – a surprise – a year later. My husband and I are now both 27 with a 3-year-old daughter.

I love my husband and daughter, but sometimes I get depressed when I see how free my single and childless friends are. I have not traveled much and wish I had had the opportunity to travel more before becoming a mother. I am also a poet and would love to go to grad school for creative writing and maybe some writer’s conferences. I would love to take art classes and theology classes for fun. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or money for these activities right now. And the more children we have, the harder it will be for us to travel, take classes, etc.

My husband I met when we were 18-year-old college freshman. We felt that God was calling us to marry relatively young – when we got married, we had been dating for almost 5 years. It’s not like we rushed into anything. The baby was a surprise, though – we weren’t planning on having her quite so soon. Having a child really limits what you can do, even more so than marriage does.

I guess part of me wishes I had met my husband a little later in life, so that I could have had more fun as a single person. I feel like I wouldn’t feel this way if I had had the opportunity to travel, go to grad school, etc. before marriage and motherhood. I am literally the least traveled person I know. Even my husband has traveled more than I have – he went on vacation to Europe with his family during the summer while we were in college.

I think part of my discontent has to do with the fact that I live in the DC area, the capitol of spoiled over-privileged overachievers. :slight_smile: Absolutely everyone I know has a college degree, and half have master’s degrees. Everyone is well-traveled. I try to tell myself that overall I’ve had quite a privileged life – after all, I have a college degree, and I had a great experience at college. There are many people my age who never graduated from college or even high school, or who are fighting and dying in Iraq, etc. I won’t blame any of you if you ask me if I want some cheese with my whine. :slight_smile:

Also, I know that *someday *I’ll get to travel, go back to school, etc. I’ll just have to wait, possibly until my kids are grown. My parents had never been overseas until they were in their 40s. Now they’re empty-nesters and they go somewhere exotic every year. A lot of people go back to school later in life.

I guess all I can do is try to be patient. I’m just wondering if anyone can relate to these feelings. I feel like I want to fast-forward my life, past the pregnancy/infant/toddler years and into the years when our kids are grown and we have the financial freedom to do these things that we’ve been wanting to do. I have a hard time staying in the moment and enjoying the here and now. It seems like so many Catholic wives and mothers who married and had children at a young age are perfectly content and have no desires or goals beyond motherhood. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but I just can’t relate to that. I’m so restless. Anyone feel the same way? How do you get rid of these feelings and find contentment?


There is only one source of contentment and one source to help you with your restlessness…Jesus Christ.

From reading your post, you seem to be really concerned that you are missing out because there is so much happiness to be found in education and especially travel. These things can be wonderful but, beleive me, will not make you content.

I was not married until I was 34 years old. The single years were not all they seem cracked up to be. I spent many lonely times watching my married friends put up their Christmas trees with their spouses and young children while I was alone. I dated nice people and some not-so-nice. I did fun things occassionally and had nice friends but a lot of my time was spent alone, and a lot of that was in lonliness.

I urge you to deepen your spiritual life. If you have a deep relationship with God then you will be happy whether or not you travel the world or never leave your hometown. You will be happy whether or not you have one child or ten. If you have a deep spiritual life you will be as happy attending graduate school as much as you will be happy peeling potatoes and changing diapers.

The secret to happiness is no secret at all…but I think you already knew this. This is why you came to this bulletin board to ask for guidance. Remember, if you took a trip right now to an exotic place you would be happy for a few weeks…but if you have contentment in your own life you will be happy for a lifetime.

Do not seek happiness in the things of this world…money, travel, status, fun, education…seek happiness in God.

I will pray for you. This will be challenging as it will require you to look at your life completely differently. Pray a lot. God is there for you, he is waiting to embrace you. God bless. Hope this helps.


If you have a good marriage, consider yourself fortunate. I made a huge mistake when I married young, and a bigger mistake when I stayed married to a man that was an alcoholic and abusive for 17 years and 4 children. The truth is though, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I work at a college, and sometimes it does get to me that I am at least as intelligent as the PhD’s I work for, but with only a BA, just don’t have the same opportunities. Still though, I have my 4 kids that I wouldn’t trade for any degree, any amount of travelling, or any professional or artistic accomplishment. Even all of the hardships that I have been through have been valuable to me. I am more resilient, more empathetic, more able to take high pressure situations in stride than most people. In every situation that you find yourself, don’t overlook the many things that you have to be thankful for.

All that being said, you are in your twenties. Your future is wide open. It is only limited to the degree that you choose for it to be. Think about what it is that you really want, what is truly important to you. Make it your priority, know that it can be yours, then accept no setback, no roadblocks. I was never allowed to say “no” to my ex-husband. Even if what he was asking me to do was impossible he would tell me “circumvent, adapt, overcome.” So, I always did, and that ended up being a good lesson for me. There are no limits to what you can accomplish. Being married is really to your benefit if you and your spouse are there to support and encourage each other. Think about what is really important and work together on achieving it. There is always a way.


See now, I take a different attitude.
I’m thrilled to have my children when I was (am?) young so they can experience all those things right along with me.

**Why can’t you travel and write? Having a 3 year old is not an impediment to any of that.:confused: **

And you need to stop thinking you aren’t fulfilled unless you are similiar to those around you.

I can’t tell you how many people I know with supposed financial freedom and globe-trotting, who deeply regret putting off children to do all those things and later find they can’t have any or more children.

Starting thinking outside the box.
It’s a myth that children tie us down.
They free us to be kids and explore the world all over again.


I am one of those people you don’t like. :wink: But only because my dad was military and we lived overseas growing up.

But, there is alot of traveling and experience you can have even as a young mother. Especially in the DC area! Can your budget stretch to metro fare and a snack? Take your daughter to all the great (and mostly free!) things for children at the Smithsonian. Lots of the exhibits/activities center around other cultures.

The libaray systems around here are wonderful too. Get some books about other countries and read. Sometimes the kids books are better than the grown-up ones! Rent foriegn movies and cook matching food (or get carrry-out).

Please don’t wish your ‘baby years’ away! They are a wonderful time of life. And by having your kids young, you will still be relatively young yourself when they are out of the house.



Actually, I am at the reverse end of the spectrum.

Instead of marrying my girlfriend (at the time), I chose to get a bachelors degree and expected her to wait 4 to 5 years.

Now, she is married to someone else… and despite the fact that I have a better job and can fly around on trips… I tend to ask myself, what if I took the other path?

There are times when I would trade all that I have to go back and marry her.

I share your pain, but in some ways, I find that you are luckier than I am.


I’m 26 and have been happily married for 5 years. By my sig you can see I have 2 small children :slight_smile: I started dating my husband when I was 19 :smiley: He was the one for me and I’m thrilled to be with him.

I don’t have a degree and neither does he :frowning: But we are happy and doing well compared to others without degrees. I’m a SAHM and he works (obviously).

Sometimes I feel a bit lonely but I don’t regret having my babies. With my health issues I’m happy to have had them when I did. I pray I will have more someday.
You just need to know that you have your life in front of you, not behind you. There is no reason you can’t travel with your daughter or do some writing or take more classes. It is hard. I understand.
I plan to go back to school, but right now my kids need me. I’m thinking when they are a bit older I’ll have more people willing to watch them for longer periods so I can take night classes or something.

Don’t go through your daughters childhood regretting or being bitter for not waiting. She’ll pick up on that. Just love her and be her mommy. In a few years your single friends will be staring married life and having kids (maybe), but your daughter will be older and then you can start doing things.
Or you’ll have more babies (which is always awesome). Maybe you need to find some mommy friends in your area, that you can share your concerns with.
Do you have a MOPS group around? Some people don’t like it, because it’s non-denom. But I’ve had nothing but good experiances with the ladies. They know I’m Catholic and even asked me to be on the Steering Team. to see if there are any in your area.


I wonder how many of your travelling friends wish they were married with children, or envy your life. With all these people travelling, I wonder if they’re really out looking for what you already found.

Sure, I’d love to be able to travel, camp, go climbing and caving whenever I want. But I remember back to the time I could do that, and I wouldn’t trade my wife and kids for the fun activities, and the incredible loneliness that came with them. It’s always easier to see how great someone else has it than what a wonderful life we ourselves have.


This is totally true. We lived in Maryland for 8 years, starting when my two oldest were very little. We took them everywhere. My son wasn’t even a week old the first time he went the National Gallery of Art. Even at that age I could still tell that he was aware of being some place special. All of the high domed celings and marble, you could just tell from his breathing, that he was being affected by the new environment.

Everywhere we went, whether it was a museum or an historical landmark, I always bought educational books for the kids that went over what it was that we were visiting in more detail. Also every interest that my kids had, I would go to the library and get them books so that they could learn more about it. At three my daughter was a virtual expert on ancient Egypt, and could tell you all about the mummification process in detail.

There really is no limit to what you can do and what you can learn with your kids. Plus, with their natural curiosity and enthusiasm, they will lead you to places you never would have thought about on your own and their questions will help you to gain insights that your childless friends would never be able to even begin to contemplate on their own.


I am your counterpart. I am a 27 year old single women who is going to be going back to school for Law next fall.

Being single is not all it’s cracked up to be. There are lots of pains. So what if i can go out whenever i want. The truth is i still come home to an empty house and have no one to decompress from the day with or someone to share my joys and sadness with. Yes you have friends but it doesn’t compare to talking and feeling with someone. It also gets very depressing watching your friends one by one get married and start their families. And relaize you can’t follow them. You can’t even full relate to them anymore since you don’t know how it is to deal with a spouse or understand the stresses of being a parent. It’s not a bed of roses being single.

i would love to be married and be a mom. It’s a beautiful vocation and the one i think God is calling me to but i can’t start fullfill that at the moment.

I see that you live in DC and that is a town that is always on the go and a mix of different cultures. Don’t compare yourself to any of them. Just remember that God has chosen you and your husband out of all the couples in the world to intrust with raising one of his beautiful souls.


You can’t do everything. A child means you’ve almost certainly got to scale back some of the exciting and worthwhile things that you could have done as young adults. But 23 is a perfectly reasonable age at which to marry. You haven’t made a bad choice.


**It is perfectly normal to want the opposite of what we have… it’s human nature:shrug:

I agree that deepening your spiritual life is the only way to achieve true contentment. It won’t necessarily make your desires go away but they will be put in perspective. Also, you seem to already know how blessed you are, but I’ll tell you again anyways;). If you have a good marriage, healthy happy child, your own health, food on the table and a roof over your head you are already far more blessed than many people. STOP comparing yourself to just your limited circle of friends/acquaintances! The world is much bigger than that.

Take me for example:D. I have poor health that, even pre-baby, kept me from doing much of what I wanted to (schooling, travel, even just hanging out with friends). Now I have a 16 month old daughter who is beyond a handful to care for. I find myself wondering what it’ll be like in 2, 3, or 10 years. If I will ever have my “freedom” back. But after someone hands me some cheese to go with MY whine:p I get back to reality and remind myself that I need to enjoy every day because things can change in the blink of an eye. My worst fear is that I will lose my baby girl and I will forever regret not living in the moment and savoring every little thing.

As for Catholic moms you know not having and goals or desires beyond motherhood, you just can’t know for sure. They may be suppressing them as a defense mechanism to avoid the exact feelings you are experiencing or they may have their entire empty nest days planned out to the minute, lol.

Oh, and I have had one vacation (my honeymoon) and my parents have never been anywhere.

So go give your DD a kiss and promise yourself to take things one day at a time…



I am one who thinks these feelings are natural - I too struggle on occasion with waking up knowing I have to spend my day doing laundry, referreing the latest fight between 2 toddler boys, cleaning house, cooking dinner, going grocery shopping, etc., and then have to do it all again tomorrow regardless of how I feel (being almost 8 months pregnant).

But I think also that these feelings are ultimately disordered and have to specifically try to reorient myself towards God and the gift He’s given, building up His kingdom Earth. My job is raising my kids for Heaven, and if you think about it, there is nothing else more important than the salvation of His little ones. What a precious and powerful gift Motherhood is!!

I recently read a couple of books that helped me to focus on my vocation, I highly recommend them:
"A Mother’s Rule of Life"

"Holiness for Housewives"

Don’t be so hard on yourself - it is hard to live for God sometimes in this world. Try to commit it to prayer and focus on the gratitude you have for your marriage and child. The only way to peace is through Jesus Christ. Try to do some bible reading and prayer when you get some “downtime”. :wink: :smiley:


Perhaps the grass is always greener, but I think you did the right thing. Marrying young is wise, especially considering how intense unmet sexual urges get in our twenties. Women who travel and go to school often regret not having husbands and children, and by the time they are ready, the men they dreamed of are either taken, or consider them to be too old. When you find true love, you have to take it, because some of us who have done the whole school thing would easily trade it all away for true love, which we aren’t finding in our jobs that are far lower than what our education was supposed to give us. You have a husband and a child, and the Lord is providing. There are countless women who would trade places with you in a heartbeat, so thank the Lord for everything you have, and realize that higher education is not all that its cracked up to be.


Hah! I hear that. I also live in the D.C. area (Arlington) and 9 out of 10 conversations with aquaintences seem to contain the words “The last time I lived in Italy…”

I came here to be a snarky culture commentator of some kind, but I ended up as a grantwriter for a non-profit. On the side I have a small moving business where I schlep other people’s “stuff” for a few bucks per move. It’s a far cry from where I thought I’d be. Well, that’s not quite true–I came here with no real goals or plans. I just thought someone would recognize my brilliance and hand me the key to the city. Somehow it didn’t turn out that way.

I also ended up getting married and we have a child on the way. Now, I love my wife and I can’t wait for little Joseph to get here, but every single day I wonder what my life would have been like if I’d only been a little more focused and had taken action, rather than actions taking me. I do NOT live my ideal life, but then, who am I to demand such a thing? God’s fingerprints are all over my life, and I can see them.

One thing is surprising, though–I came here to be some sort of superstar writer whose articles would be MUST READS. I thought the daily drudgery of family life, of husbandhood, were, if not beneath me, then not compatible with me. Nowadays, though, I find that nothing has ever been as fulfilling as this stressful, financially strapped existence. My marriage is my vocation–something I seem to be unexpectedly suited for. That’s my wife talking there–she had major doubts about my suitability as a husband in the beginning. But a year later she’s as surprised as I am.

The point to all of this self-indulgent self-disclosure is that the grass is always greener on the other side. I would LOVE to pursue all the things I wanted to, but feared to, before I was married. I also love to travel, but I found that the best way to be happy in your here-and-now is to fully embrace it. Be counter-cultural. Apply yourself unreservedly to the good things in your life HERE and NOW. I can almost guarantee you happiness if you do that.



That green grass on the other side? It just looks that way from where you’re standing. :slight_smile:


Obviously we need to have a little DC area get together…


I left Capitol Hill to do national missionary work for a year. While I still have family and friends out in DC let me tell you, the ego you envy (and yes, many in the Capital have majors egos issues) is well, empty and lacks compassion. I am not saying to move away, but know that there is more to life than what is inside the Beltway. I’m in the Chicagoland area and have to pay for my zoo pass, wait for free days for any museums, and forget free concerts, they only happen in the summer and only on non-rainy days. Chicago has a lot to offer but at a price. However, the people here are wonderfully kind and many are overflowing with compassion. You see, there is always good and bad with everything. I would LOVE to be able to take my dd all around DC (everytime we visit family we stick by Annapolis which is nice but not as exciting).

If my dd’s dad is told that his first marriage was invalid then we will marry. However, he has a career that doesn’t pay well. Right now I work with my mom and my dd gets to be with me all day, but when my mom retires I may have to work. I am starting to take classes on line to get a MBA in hospitality management. I know that if I go back to managing at a restaurant (what I did my last year of undergrad) I’ll be making 2 - 3 times what my dd’s dad could make in his career. Having a daughter with asthma issues, we spend plenty of money on dr. appointments and medicine (especially in the winter). While the insurance covers a good portion, some months we can barely cover the remaining costs. Could you afford one online class per semeseter? Even if you seek something like a MBA you can maybe think up and start your own business where you can still work from home.


I agree, you have a kid and a husband…being single isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I may never have kids…I’m still dealing with that. Who known’s if I’ll ever find a spouse. Sure I can take off to Paris anytime I want to but I don’t have anyone to come home to. I end up traveling a lot by myself because I’m single and most of my friends and family are married or don’t care to travel. I don’t write but then again I never was much of a writer. Also I know plenty of married folks that get out and are active. So there’s always a way if you really want to do something. I would have a frank discussion with your husband. Maybe he would be willing to watch your child while you try some different things to give you a break once in a while. Look for a club or group that does activities that interest you and most of all pray for Gods guidence. But you still sound pretty lucky in my book.


Excellent idea. St. Mary’s in Old Town, Alexandria is having another one of its awesome holy hour and socials soon…:thumbsup:

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