When I can’t be there…

903894_10151566658399467_305534970_oYesterday my Monday blues lingered until I hopped in my car to drive to the daycare to pick up Potamus. I was so excited to see his chubby cheeks and get to snuggle him up into his carseat and hear him babble about his day. There are many days where I really want to be at work, and then there are days, like yesterday, when I just want to scoop up my little one and hold his tiny hand and go for a walk.

I walked quickly back to his classroom, it already dark outside (thanks a lot Daylight Savings) and saw him run toward me in his too-short-pants indicating that he had peed through his clothes at naptime again. And his face was red. Had he been crying?

“He sat in front of your picture and cried all day today. I had to move him, and then he’d come back and sit in front of your picture, saying ‘mama,’ and crying.” his teacher said.

Gulp.

She said it in a “isn’t that sweet?” sort of tone, but all I heard was: my kid said mama and reached out to a picture for comfort and comfort didn’t come and so he cried.

I felt like shit.

Whose bright idea is it to have the kid’s All About Me’s plastered at eye height in the reading nook of the daycare? Seriously, there at the age that ‘out of sight out of mind’ is best, especially for my sweetly sensitive peanut. I felt overwhelmed with grief, that I had sent him to school hopped up on tylenol for a runny nose and he was sad and spent the day crying and wanting me, and I didn’t come.

But I did come, eventually, and all was right with the world. And when I talked to his regular teacher, she said that he hadn’t cried all day, but he had been sad at some points, and seeing my picture made him more sad instead of being comforted. Today they’re taking the picture down so as not to bother him more.

I kept thinking about my own childhood, though, from that experience. How I’d look at the very few photos of my birthmom and wonder what she was like…and did I actually miss her? I remember looking at pictures of my friends and family while i lived in India, and crying, from homesickness when I saw their smiling faces. There’s something both comforting and heartbreaking about holding a picture when all you want is a hug.

And it’s amazing how quickly kids move on. I’m still thinking about it twenty four hours later…after talking about it to my friend, and my mom, and Boof, and my therapist. Potamus had moved on as soon as he saw me. All lingering thoughts were gone to the wayside and all was right with the world. He didn’t hold a grudge when I left again at night for therapy. In fact he blew kisses and snuggled up with dad on the couch. But the feeling of not being able to be there for him, when he needed me, is lingering. I know it’s a fine balance, of independence and letting children experience the hardships and heartaches of the world, and being able to provide a safe and comforting bosom for them to come back to.

The feeling is lingering. How do I move forward?

The space between

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Sometimes depression is like bathroom mold, slowly growing over time, until one day you climb into your shower and think “yuck, where did this come from?” This process could take weeks to months before I notice. Other times it slams into me all at once, like the unexpected flash flood we’re experiencing here in Western WA. But then there are times where depression happens in the space between those two extremes. Sorta slow, but also sorta fast, and it’s as if there’s this warning light going off in my brain saying “watch out, it’s coming!” But it couldn’t possibly be coming, the warning signs have not been present, there’s been no trigger (except the end of summer) and by all accounts I should just ‘get it together’ and ‘suck it up’ and ‘work through it.’

I rationalize, by saying, “you’re tired, you’re stressed about work starting next week, you’re angry that your partner is being less-than-helpful-and-borderline-selfish, and your child is in the terrible-twos-four-months-early.” Lots of excuses. But the gray foggy gloom has been creeping, rolling in, like something in a bad horror film.

Things yesterday that did not make me feel better:

-pre-meditating my skipping yoga to justify a nap (that didn’t happen)

-playing endless games of Candy Crush on my phone, and paying for cheats and more levels…that’ll bite me in the ass

-watching 4 hours of trashy television

-driving to the outlet mall and trying on clothes. even buying two cute things didn’t take away the gray

-buying $12.95 worth of fudge

-getting $0.40 off a gallon of gas at Safeway because I used my parent’s phone # (don’t worry, they don’t get their gas at Safeway)

The part of me that hasn’t been completely taken over by this recent emergence is waffling back and forth…do I do something now (i.e. medication) since therapy is ending on Saturday? Do I wait and see if this is just a transition phase with the weather being crappy and the nerves of a soon-to-be-back-to-work-mama? I’m feeling very victimy overall and also like I really want to cry but won’t let myself. The six minutes of stillness meditation yesterday left me starting to cry, so I distracted myself with other things. My counselor brain knows that isn’t what I should do…

How do you tell the difference between a bad mood and lingering depression? Or the difference between being nervous and having anxiety? What things lift you out of the funk?