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Is Mama “Mean,” or Is It Something Else?

Most of us have seen the viral videos and the downloadmemes that poke fun at the “Mean Mama.” She is unreasonable, loud, and never seems to have more than a fleeting moment of happiness or joy. She is always complaining of how tired she is, how much she sacrifices, how her life might be different if it weren’t for “you damned ungrateful kids!” And let’s not forget about how much her child is “just like ya daddy!”

These caricatures are only comical because of how closely they mirror a lot of our actual childhoods living with mothers who seemed to never be happy about much of anything. We didn’t understand why mama was going all the way off about a couple of dirty dishes in the sink. Or why she seemed to get even angrier at the sound of her children crying (“shut up before I give you something to cry about!”). Or why the fact that you have your father’s smile/walk/eyes seemed to make her upset. Were our mother’s just hella mean or was there something else going on under the surface?

In many communities depression is a disorder that goes largely ignored. Until recently, Postpartum Depression was diagnosed as neuroses (for those women who actually spoke about their symptoms) and women with this diagnosis were treated with