I found myself thinking “YEAH, I AGREE!!” Then I started wondering “why the hell do the holidays suck?” Why does something that is cheerful and celebrating, feel so hellish?
So, I looked at my calendar for the week and realized I would tackle the one thing I knew would help. I cancelled appointments. I cancelled play dates. I cancelled 6 things that were non-essential.
I kept on the calendar: Red’s 6th birthday cake with my mom and Chef today. Christmas eve. Christmas morning.And all I have felt is relief.
I do get down in the holidays, yet it doesn’t make sense to me. The weather gets me down. All the extensive cheer. And then I think to myself “what’s so depressing about CHEER?” I mean, really.
On the day that we decorated our tree and my two little girls were shaking their bottoms to Bette Midler’s new holiday album, placing ornaments from my past and my “today” at their 3 foot eye level, in little bunches. It doesn’t get cheerier than that and it doesn’t get better than that.
Their comments like “Oooooooo this one is sparkling!” or “I made this in preschool last year!” or “this one is grooooossssss!” (an old Santa that was my grandfather’s when he was a little boy that looks a little scurvy-ish but I haven’t the heart to throw away), really heightened my awareness of a) why NOT get into the holiday cheer b) my children are my life and reason enough to live happily, no matter what the weather.
Before I left my marriage, I was having extreme anxiety attacks on the sidewalk, coffee shops, in the car, in the middle of the night. I was talking to a friend at the time (who is now Chef, I’ll let you chew on that one for a while)and he asked me “what exactly is it you are afraid of?” in terms of being anxious in the middle of the mall, driving on the highway, waiting for my (now ex) husband to come home every night?
It is the same thing with depression. I mean, I KNOW everything is okay. I know I can go through the motions of life and direct the traffic of bullshit that gets thrown away in my mind and the blessings and wonders of my children and motherhood that I keep.
I wouldn’t be able to list anything to be depressed about, if it came down to it (okay, I tried and I had things on my list like, “it’s cloudy and fucking cold out and I can’t go sit on the beach with my children for another 6 months” and “I can’t see Chef until next weekend” and “my Tivo messed up and didn’t tape a whole week’s worth of Oprah”.) But so what? Instead I snowboard and sit and watch movies with my children and go for walks and eat pie in the winter…and if recording Oprah isn’t working, watch all the “Ugly Betty” episodes that ARE taping.
I do understand depression is a disease, I am not downplaying it or underestimating the chemical power it has for any of us. It is a disease I have. I am trying to intellectualize it a bit, and it helps me (something therapy has taught me to do).
Am I afraid of being alone? Am I afraid I will die tomorrow? Am I afraid my children will get hurt when I am not there to comfort them? My answer is clear on the latter when I realize that my kids are never sick when they are with their father. It is always when they are with me and I am proud to say, that I can handle it. I can even handle an emergency room visit with my youngest, and I can handle this all, alone. Because I am in fact, alone with my children.
I can say though, that in the midst of all the sickness we’ve had in the house the last few weeks, stitches, kids having colds, throwing up, tantrums from being overtired, we’ve still enjoyed birthdays and the upcoming holiday that will be here on Monday.
Yesterday, as I trudged up the few blocks to Red’s school, leaning heavily on the stroller that contained Blue, and wanting to both puke and pass out at the same time, sweating heavily from fever, the joy of seeing Red run out of her Kindergarten class with her big smile on her face and watching her little sister jump up as she does daily to greet her with a hug and a kiss and wait for her to empty her backpack and show her all her school work from the day and what is left over in her lunch box, I realize that the only reason I could possibly be depressed is if these two girls weren’t with me.
What gives me joy is that even when in a state of depression, sickness, throwing up, fever, whatever, I’ve still got the kids next to me, walking through crowds of people, smiling and laughing and yelling “MOMMY’S STILL WEARING HER PAJAMAS!” at the top of their lungs, thinking it is the greatest thing in the world.