Parenting with Depression: Something’s wrong with Mommy

It is a well know fact that parenting is no easy task. It is not for the weak of heart. It takes time, energy, diligence, patience, kindness, love, selflessness, discipline, having fun and so much more than I can even name.

When I was young, I always knew I would be a Mom. I thought how my child would never go through what I suffered. I had this ideal in my head, that most ‘never been mothers’ have.  I knew it would be hard.  Something I never factored in was depression and anxiety. How could I know it would hit me so hard and so deep?

After years of struggle and feeling like I have failed and have damaged my children beyond repair (Please see Parenting with Depression: The Fear of Neglect), I had to hope and pray that it wasn’t true and that my kids could still be alright.  Despite all of the struggles and failings, I knew that my kids KNEW that I LOVED them. I also knew that they still LOVE ME. My husband and I realized that my kids weren’t little anymore.  They needed to know that what is going on with Mommy is NOT normal.

As much as it hurt, I swallowed my pride and told them, “There’s something wrong with Mommy”.

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There are going to be times that I am so tired I can’t get up out of bed or off the couch.  That this is a result of the sickness, it is not normal and Mommy is trying to get better.  There are going to be times where Mommy gets mad for no reason, and I may yell.  This is not normal and Mommy will sometimes need a time out to calm down.  There are times when Mommy can’t stop crying but I will be okay. I had always thought that a Mother comforts her children, not the other way around. Sometimes we have to accept that this is what our family has to do. ( I seriously have the sweetest children alive!)

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We have always been honest at telling our kids that we make mistakes and when we are wrong we apologize.  When I have a bad mood swing or can’t play with them the way I need to and want to; I apologize and remind them that I love them with all my heart, that I am going to keep on trying to get better.

The reason I wanted to share this post was because of an incident last Monday with my eldest, Blake.  Last Monday I was beat from a very tiring weekend.  We had guests over so I busted my butt getting things cleaned; 1- to avoid embarrassment and 2- it was a great excuse/reason/motivation whatever you want to call it, to get my house clean, something I desperately want to be done but struggle to do.

So Monday rolls around and I have been trying really hard to be “present” with my kids.  Liam and I decided to make banana muffins, however,  the kids must have woken up super early because they were all grumps.  I took Liam and Keira to the store to get walnuts and on the way home Keira fell asleep.  It was barely 10:30am and I am beyond exhausted.  I try to convince Liam to watch a show so I can lay down for a moment while Keira was sleeping but he insisted on making the muffins right then.  So we did.  Then Keira wakes up. She barely took a 45 minute nap.  The rest of the day felt like it was moving so slowly. By around 3 I knew Blake would be home soon.  Keira was intently watching Tumble Leaf on Amazon while Liam was playing games on my phone and I decided to lay down.  It’s something I always feel terrible about.   I don’t feel as bad when Keira is napping because I know Liam loves having TV time for himself without having to watch Curious George, Tinker Bell or any other “kiddie” show.  However, on Monday Keira was up and I couldn’t last any longer.  I laid down in my bed (which is only 5 1/2 ft away from the Living Room) and I was hoping to just rest but I fell asleep.  I briefly woke up when I heard Blake come home. I reminded him today was his last day of dance and that we will need to leave soon but then I quickly drifted back to sleep. I woke up abruptly only to see it was already time for dance class and he would be late.

I was so mad.  It was his last day of class, they were having rehearsal on the stage where they would be performing this Saturday and he was missing it!  I came out of my room angry! Rushing everyone to get shoes on and taking it out on Blake.  “You knew you had dance at 4. Why aren’t you ready?  Why didn’t you get me?” This anger and frustration and blaming continued as we got in our van and then it hit me! “What are you doing AVA?!?!  This isn’t HIS fault! You are the Mother, it is your responsibility! You are mad at yourself NOT him.”  In the past when I heard that voice, I don’t know if it was pride or fear or what, but I wouldn’t listen to it. I use to not want to admit when I was wrong and when I did it was after the fact. Luckily, the me that wants to get better made a decision that had always been so hard to do int he past. I stopped.

“Blake, I’m sorry.  It is not your fault. It’s mine.  I fell asleep and should have been more aware.  I am mad at me, not you. Do you Understand?  Do you Forgive me?”

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I have always apologized in the past, but this time I not only recognized my mistake IN the moment, I didn’t let it continue.  I stopped it right away. I didn’t let it fester and build. I didn’t realize I was wrong then feel guilty, get more mad at myself and continue to take it out on my innocent son( like I have so many other times in the past). I was honest and in that moment instead of being a mean Mom, an unfair Mom. I became a teacher.  I taught my child that we are in control of emotions, even though it is very hard.  That if they get carried away in the moment, we have the power and control to stop it. We can recognize our faults and fix it there and then if we allow ourselves to.  Apologies and forgiveness can be immediate, powerful and can be healing.

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Yes, there is something wrong with Mommy but I am getting better.  I  can recognize my faults and so can my kids.  I can teach them even when I don’t always think it’s possible.  I can and will always love them.  Most importantly; they show me that I can be loved in return.

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