My middle Miss attended her classmates Harry Potter themed birthday party yesterday. She trundled off looking cute in her cobbled together Moaning Myrtle finery and returned a few hours later brimming with excitement. Rifling through the hugest party goodie bag I’ve ever seen she joyfully shared the jellybean filled ornaments, mason jar mug and spellbook along with her self-made snitch and wand. After her excitement dampened a little she sat cross legged on the floor beside my chair and flicked through her spellbook, wand in hand. “REPARO!” She excitedly called out while waggling her gold, bronze and silver wand at me. “It’s a spell for fixing things!” she proclaimed quickly. “Am I broken then?” I asked slightly quizzically. She paused. I ask again with a mashup of emotion welling up into my chest. She paused for a moment more before gesturing to her head. “Is my head broken?” I asked as my eyes start to sting. “A bit Mummy.” she told me quite frankly. I forced a smile while a tear fell down my cheek, closely followed by several more.
I don’t always hide my tears from my girls. I don’t always hide my panic, fears or dull moods from my girls just as I don’t hide excitement or contentment from them either. I used to. I used to try and hide every emotion that I didn’t think was favourable: sadness, guilt, great excitement, nervousness. I wanted to at least feel like I had some control over those emotions even if it was only to mask them and I wanted to protect my family from what I was feeling at the same time. Needless to say I wasn’t especially successful at either plan.
My amazing girls are 11, 10 and 8 years old and they are very observant little people. Lying to them is futile and sends them a clear message that I’m ashamed of having head troubles. I am not ashamed. I may not want to willingly share my state of mind with everyone but if asked about it I won’t lie to anyone. If the girls were struggling themselves with anything I’d want them to feel they can just ‘be’ in their own home and around people who love them. I’d want them to feel they can openly and comfortably say ‘I’m not feeling amazing today’ and know that’s okay. Its only fair that I afford them the same honesty and lead by example. I won’t lie, I don’t share every minute detail – I personally don’t feel its entirely appropriate but I’m open enough to tell them I’m having an off day or to be honest about how I am doing if they ask.
It hasn’t been easy trying to be this honest with my family, in fact it took having a meltdown and sobbing into Miss Middle’s shoulder for twenty minutes straight while bear hugging her for no reason other than feeling overwhelmed to make me revaluate my relationship with my mental health and my family. I’ve taken this approach its lifted a lot of pressure off me. I have to work hard at not regressing as thats my go to reaction but it is definatly worth the effort. I can relax and live moment by moment on an off day and when the girls look at me with caution and knowing concern I can move forward with them rather than forcing a false mood and pushing them away. Most importantly the girls understand enough to know they’ve done nothing wrong and that overall I’m okay. I think its made our relationships a lot stronger.