Mommy’s got the blues
When depression grips, how do you explain it to a toddler?
Last Sunday, the blues got me bad. All I wanted to do was hit the bed, crawl beneath the sheets and not surface – for a while anyway. I reckon it was a combination of imbalanced hormones and various external factors. I’d argued with anyone who came within two feet of me. I was a mess. It would have been much better for me to remain alone to wallow, ponder and somehow find my centre again.

All very well, but what do you do when you’re a mom? I couldn’t exactly hermit myself away indefinitely until I was fit for public consumption again. During the week, many of us have the support of nannies, but on the weekend, there’s no cloistering away to deal with your ‘stuff’ – it’s all systems go whether you’re up to it or not.

Luckily, that particular day, my husband (happy to escape my miserable mug for a while!) whisked my daughter away for a few hours to allow me to regroup. By the time they returned, I was feeling marginally better.

Yes, there are times as a mom where even you are allowed to just opt out for a while. If you’re able to. It does not make you a bad mother. Or indulgent. It just makes you human. In fact, it may be your saving grace. If you can do it when you really need to, then you might just save yourself a greater meltdown later.

I believe that it’s important that your child witnesses a variety of your emotions (within reason, of course) and not just the positive ones. It is fairly impossible to remain chipper all the time. Life is a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s lovely and sometimes it’s just not. It’s cyclical.

The Art of Living Course teaches that striving for life to be good all the time is quite pointless—rather strive for happiness despite the inevitable ups and downs of our existence. And to find that happiness, we need to connect with our inner selves. Usually, one needs to be alone to do this.

Mommy needs some time alone

But how do you explain to a 20-month-old toddler, ‘Mommy needs some time out today because she is feeling a little sad’? Or even ‘Mommy is upset with daddy right now but everything will be OK.’ You can’t. But, if you’re accepting of these emotions in yourself, perhaps your child she will somehow conclude that it is okay to feel all of her own emotions, even if some of them are uncomfortable, unpleasant or painful. 

Many of us were taught as children to repress our negative emotions. I see this often in parents who distract their kids from any pain, both physical and emotional. I do not subscribe to this. Why are we so afraid of pain? If we embrace it by allowing ourselves to feel it, then it can pass through us leaving us un-damaged by it. By denying it, we give it so much more power.

I’m not advocating wandering around morosely for weeks in a full-blown depression not being able to function or parent effectively. This kind of depression requires urgent help. I am talking about letting ourselves off the hook now and again.

If we can teach our kids by example that expressing emotions in a constructive way is healthy then perhaps we’ll have less disease, anger, resentment and violence in our society?

I’m not going to hide my tears from Eva Rose when I cry. I’m not going to pretend to be fine. They know anyway. Their little antennae pick up every subtext and vibration. So, next time the blues come calling, if I’m authentic about what I need, I know I’ll emerge from the dark night of the soul hopefully a better mom than before.

Is it okay for children to see their parents cry?

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