Grudgingly, I rub my eyes and stare at the ceiling for a moment. “Mama!?” I hear it again and lay still, hoping he will fall back asleep for just a little while more. “Maaamaaa!!?”echoes down the hallway and I know I can’t put it off any longer. I force myself out of bed, step onto the cold floor, and let out a big sigh. ‘Time to start the day,’ I mutter under my breath as I head towards his room. I feel guilty for wishing he would have slept longer and angry for wanting to be alone. I remind myself that I am experiencing a recurrent major depressive episode and need to remain strong. As much as I want to stay in bed and am dreading the busyness of the day about to occur, I know succumbing to my depression is not option.
I slowly push open his door and peek inside. There, curled up in his blankets with his thumb in his mouth, is my little man. He instantly smiles at me and I can’t help but smile back. “Good morning! Did you have a good sleep?” I ask as he stands up and nods at me in agreement. Despite my lack of energy, I bend over and lift him out of his crib; I suddenly feel like maybe getting up was worth it.
He leads me out of his bedroom and signals to the bathroom. I follow him in as he pulls his stool out. I prepare our toothbrushes and turn on the tap, making sure it’s luke warm. He climbs up onto his stool and grabs his toothbrush out of its holder. He stares at the bristles to make sure I apply the right amount of toothpaste. He reaches out his opposite hand and checks the water temperature before wetting his toothbrush. He watches me as I brush my teeth and attempts to mimic my actions. I can’t help but feel proud of him for attempting.
After what seems like more than enough time and ample convincing, he hands over his toothbrush and allows me to do a quick brush to try and get what was missed. He washes his hands, sprinkles some water on his head and pats his hair. He freezes and looks at me in the mirror to signal that he’s finished. I turn off the tap and he climbs off his stool, making sure to return it to its place beside the vanity. “Good job,” I say, smiling as his back is turned to me. I don’t want to praise him too much for daily hygiene tasks even though I’m beaming inside and thrilled at his interest. I can’t understand how he can make me so happy while I feel so sad.
He leaves the bathroom and heads into my bedroom. He unlocks the dog cage, signalling it’s time for her to wake up an join us on the journey downstairs. The three of us quietly make our way past his brothers room and start our desent to the main floor. He makes sure to “sush” us, putting his tiny finger to his lips; he doesn’t want to wake his brother. We count the steps as we go and I commend what a great job he’s doing as he proudly holds onto the wall with one hand, the other just a few inches from mine proving he can do it himself but can count on me if he slips.
I let out another sigh as we make our way into the kitchen and let the dog outside. My body feels so heavy. I want to lie down. He opens the pantry cupboard and deliberates on what he wants to have for breakfast. I find myself trying to maintain my patience. I question my abilities to cope today. I’m worried that he may see me cry. Finally, choosing oatmeal over toast, he passes me the packetbof cereal. I flip the switch on the kettle and pour the apple and cinnamon oatmeal in his favourite bowl. He silently follows me into the family room watching me as I turn on his morning cartoons and set up his high chair.
The kettle turns off and I head back to the kitchen to prepare his oatmeal. I reflect on how I felt when I first woke up. As I pour milk into the bowl to make the oatmeal an acceptable temperature, I can’t help but feel guilty for not wanting to be present. For wanting to be in bed. For wanting to be alone. I have everything in my life I have ever dreamt of but I feel so sad. I hate feeling this way. I want to enjoy being a mom.
I serve him his oatmeal and juice, make sure he’s content, and head outside to regroup. I don’t feel well today but I don’t want to disappoint him. I think about what we can do, where we can go, and come up with a plan. I head back inside to check on his progress. Face and hands covered in oatmeal he looks at me, smiles, and asks “ouuu?” “You want out?”I say and he nods excitedly. I wet a washcloth with warm water, wipe his fingers, face, and tray, lift him out of his high chair and fold the chair up, putting it back in its place.
As he entertains himself with puzzles and cars, I pull down the pillow and a blanket from the top of the couch. I slowly slither into a comfortable position, close my eyes for a second, hoping for a few minutes of sleep. I just woke up but am craving more sleep. My eyes feel relief from the burning sensation of forcing them to remain open.
I take a deep breath while I lay still and try to relax but I feel like I’m being watched. I open my eyes and see him staring at me from across the room as if he’s contemplating his next move. Suddenly, he bolts in the opposite direction, snatches his blanket from under a pile of toys, and scurries back towards me on the couch. He smiles as he tosses his blanket in my direction and grabs my arms to assist his climb up to join me on the couch. Once in a comfortable position, he turns his head to face mine. His hands slowly reach towards my face. ‘Gentle’ I say as he removes my glasses and places them carefully on the end table near our heads. He wiggles back down next to me and covers us up with his blanket. It’s like he understands even though I know he can’t.
He lets me lay there in silence while he watches his tv program, rubbing my hand to make sure I know he’s there. We snuggle and suddenly I feel resurrected from my negative thinking. I feel thankful. I feel loved. There is nothing better in this world than feeling unconditional love. It is at this moment that I know I can’t allow myself to be consumed by sadness. Despite the fact I am experiencing another major depressive episode, I have to remain strong for him. He depends on me. He looks at me for security, love and guidance. He wants me around. He loves me-unconditionally.
He rolls off the couch, grabs my hand and leads me into the kitchen. He’s still hungry. After contemplating his choices of banana, grapes, yogurt or applesauce, he signals to the fridge and points to his decision. I pull out the applesauce but I hear resistance. I point to the yogurt and receive a smile and nod in agreement. He signals for a spoon and we head back to the couch. I sit in my usual spot with his yogurt in hand. He taps me with his spoon, expecting me to hold it for him. As I take the spoon from his tiny hand, he climbs up onto the couch and scootches beside me. He leans over into my space and takes his spoon and yogurt from me, his eyes glimmering with happiness.
He eats his snack while we sit silently watching his television program. I put my arm around him and snug him in close. I kiss the top of his head and whisper that him I love him. He mumbles in response and my heart flutters; I know he’s trying to say it back. It is at this moment I realize how lucky I am; how my happiness outweighs my sadness. Even though I may feel more depressed than ever and life seems impossible, I have to remember I am his mother. I need to make sure he feels unconditional love. I am his protector and he is my saviour. His presence saves me from ending it all.Read More
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