Since you all have to come in anyway . . . she’d said.
In theory, yes.
In reality? Imagine keeping three ping-pong balls from smashing into each other or the four very close walls of the examination room and you are nearly there. Add a reflex hammer to the equation and you’ve just about got it.
Add a discussion with your brand-spanking new physician to get her up to speed on your state of mental health – and you’ve got a suddenly very attentive ten year-old.
When the doctor popped out of the room for a minute to get something, my daughter turned to me. “Mom, what’s depression?”
I think I stammered something to the effect of ‘I’ll tell you later.’
That night, I overheard her say to my husband, “Daddy, did you know Momma is depressed?”
I swooped into the room, not ready to delay the conversation any further. “Honey, Mommy’s all right. It just means I get sad sometimes, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not happy with you and your sisters and Daddy or that I don’t love you.”
She took my explanation at face-value, kind-of shrugged, and went about her business.
I looked at my husband with a sad, pleading look. Sad that I’d had to add such a word to my young daughter’s lexicon; Pleading for him to say I’d handled it okay. He said he thought I’d given an age-appropriate explanation and that we’d share other info with her as-needed or as she asked for it.
I feel like I would’ve been better off not answering the question at all with the weak answer I had given. It felt as if I’d minimized or belittled the crushing condition so many deal with on a daily basis. I felt as if my laissez-faire attitude toward it made it seem like something I could handle on my own; not something I needed help with or needed to talk about; not something she needed to worry about.
And I don’t want her to worry. I don’t want her to think her mother is beyond repair and won’t be able to care for her. But I also don’t want my daughter to think depression is ‘no big deal’. I don’t want her to think it’s something to talk about in whispers and hushed tones.
It’s a fine line to walk – especially when you’re navigating a road laid only ten years ago. A fresh mind, a fragile psyche. When the two roads of parent and advocate converge, it’s difficult to keep a head-on collision from occurring. How do I keep forward progress without falling into pot holes?
Answering to one’s self honestly can be hard; to one’s daughter? Depressingly difficult.
© Jennifer Butler Basile and A Canvas Of The Minds 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Butler Basile and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.