I Gotta Believe…It’s Never too Late to Change the Outcome

no mean moms

Parenting with Depression and Anxiety

The mirror really does have two faces.  I’ve seen them both now.  Mine today and mine in 25 years, which is in fact, my Mother’s face.  And I’m not happy about it.  Don’t get me wrong, it has nothing to do with “looks” or vanity of any kind.  It’s all about what’s going on inside and there’s a whole lot to be worried about.  Mostly because there ain’t a whole lot good going on in there.  I’ve seen the future and it’s looking bleak.

If you read my last post (thank you!) you know I was curled up in the fetal position days before our family 4th of July party..dreading her arrival and praying for her departure. Well friends…it is now day 6 of our adventures here in CrazyTown and I’m still desperately awaiting her train to head out.   Because I’m sick, I’m terrifed of her saying something typically nasty and demeaning, so I’ve been avoiding her.  I try not to engage in much conversation at all.  I figured this would give her the hint.  She almost never comes here because she hates my husband (I’ll tell that story another day) so I’m not sure why my proverbial cold shoulder hasn’t sent her packing yet.  But she simply won’t go.   And it’s making me CRAZY(-er).  But I really don’t want to have a confrontation about it.  Whenever we fight I’m even more depressed than normal for days.

The only reason I have any relationship with her at all is so the rest of my family won’t hate me and so my kids don’t think of her as any stranger than she is.  But she comes here and sleeps half the day or sits in the den with them staring into space.  She doesn’t play with them or interact with them at all.  She was always like that with me.  That’s why I’m screwed up.  But for them it’s weird.  For years my husband and I made excuses and said it was because Poppy (my father) died and she was upset and lonely.  But NOW….she has a boyfriend.  Yes, someone has stepped up and been brave enough to take on the crazy and it’s like having the Wicked Witch of Southeast Florida being reborn as a 16-year old hormone.  She is still depressed and sullen, unless she is talking to him.  She says she’s exhausted and skulks off to bed at 6pm only to proceed to spend 2 hours on the phone with him.  Like we’re deaf and can’t hear her???  Isn’t that exactly like a child?  If they can’t hear you then for certain you can’t hear them?!?  And I realize all over again that I could have never made her happy..only my father could.  Oops, correction, ONLY A MAN COULD.

So this begs the question,  “Why is she still freaking here?”  I’m not sure, but she’s asked me about 20 times to go get a mani/pedi.  I refuse to ditch my kids to go hang out with her in a salon for 90 minutes.  I don’t care how long it’s been since I’ve seen her.  She’s their Grandmother and frankly shouldn’t want to ditch them either.  And it infuriates me that she wants to.  But I’m thinking, maybe she won’t leave until she can get her nails done before she goes back to see her boyfriend.  In hopes that this theory is correct, I’m going to take her to the salon today and drop her off.  Maybe I’ll pick her up too. (Just kidding).  And if I’m lucky, her next question will be, “where is the train schedule.”

Now this may all sound like a light hearted kind of nuts…and to some extent it is.  But my kids feel it.  They think, “Wow…haven’t seen grandma in awhile and she really doesn’t give a crap.”  And that makes me mad.  But I watch her drifting off into space and I think, hmmm, I do that….I have my own little world.  It isn’t one where I only exist if there’s a man around, but I do have my own “place” where it’s quiet.  And my kids can’t get in there.  And now I’m thinking I need to stay in the moment more.  Play more with them.  Stop isolating.  Clearly that’s genetic.  I want to be with my kids and should want to be with them more than be anywhere else in the world.  I’m still learning.  Never did have a role model.

The bottome line is this..I don’t want them 30 years from now praying for my departure (to Florida or the hereafter) and saying to themselves, “Why is she still here?” or  worse, saying to me, “Mom, did you want a copy of that train schedule?”


What to Do About My Perfectionist Child?



“Parents should never want to teach us life; for they teach us their life.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

I haven’t been able to write in weeks  My anxiety has been through the roof and my husband has been working insane hours so I was quite alone amidst the chaos of raising 3 middle schoolers.  I could barely keep a thought straight long enough to get them all to their respective activities on time and still had to look at my calendar three, four, five times a day even to keep it all straight.  But finally a lull has taken hold and the anxiety has abated significantly.  It is like the tide but on a completely random schedule.  It rises and rises and then ebbs.   Unfortunately, there is no timetable by which to plan my days.  I have to keep going regardless of how I feel.  It is simply exhausting sometimes.

Despite the ever -changing disposition of my moods over the last year or so, I have noticed a consistent change in my 12-year-old daughter’s personality.  She is becoming more of a perfectionist the older she gets.  Two years ago, we had a discussion about this because she melted down about getting a B on a test and to her it manifested as a failure.  I explained to her that neither her Dad nor I expected her to be perfect at anything.  She refused to us then and it’s only getting worse.

In some ways, I know how she feels.  I was the same way with my grades in school but mostly because it was the only way to get any kind of affection out of my parents.  I performed to get my needs met.  But my husband and I absolutely do not parent this way.  Even if I unconsciously had a tendency to go there, my conscious mind would not allow it.  I recognize all too well the damage it does..that withholding affection is destructive no matter what the case.  It is also a sign of parental insecurity, not of any failing on the child’s part.  And most of all, I refuse to repeat my own history.

So what is happening?  Is perfectionism an inherited trait?  Is there really such a thing as middle-child syndrome? How do I get through to her?  It is getting to the point that we cannot even reprimand her about not doing her chores because she throws a fit and will sulk in her room all evening.  She absolutely cannot tolerate criticism.  She is also becoming completely risk averse which, I have learned from several education experts, is quite typical of the perfectionist child.  They refuse to do anything at which they are not sure they will excel because they may fail and that is injurious to the ego.  But how do I help her?

For now, my own doctor has suggested I share with her some concerns I have about my own shortcomings in regards to a volunteer opportunity I’m attempting.  I’m in training to advocate for children in foster care and make sure they are being fairly and well represented in all aspects of their cases.  I am scared I won’t live up to the task and I will somehow fail to do enough for a needy child.  But I am doing it anyway.  I want to do it and will try and hopefully rise above my own fear of failing.  My doctor thinks sharing this story with my daughter will help her to understand the importance of stretching beyond her fears, so I’ll try to discuss it with her.  But she’s a “tween” and not so interested in my stories right now.  I pray she hears me.   I do not want her to end up like me…in a spiral of anxiety and of never feeling “good enough.”  There needs to be an end to this generational pain.




Thanks to a Fellow Blogger, Today I will be a good Mom


I think today’s posting will be quite different than the last. I’m feeling out of sorts…well for me anyway…I feel lighter. Today I woke up and read an unabashedly joyful posting from a woman clearly much younger than I, relishing the future possibilities of home and family. And it turned my mood brighter. I left her a post about what incredible optimism she has and, at first, felt a bit sad that I hardly ever see the joy in my life except as someone watching from a distance. That’s the disease…the Depression that dulls my spirit. But after considering my home and my family and how amazing they are despite my constant mood issues, I started to feel rather hopeful myself. I would love to carry this feeling throughout the day with me today, especially to drown out the memories of the last two days.

I research and write about my depression and anxiety for two reasons. First, it is cathartic. I usually write early in the morning, before the kids arise and before I’ve had a chance to let anything upset me too much. I research religiously because I have to learn how to parent through my depression. I have to read any book I can find and any relevant published journal article and frankly any source that I come across that will give me a bit more insight into this dreadful disease that prevents me from looking at my children with unfettered love and delight. But more than that, I have to do my best to create that light in my eyes for them even when it’s being clouded by sadness. They deserve my best effort and I’m admittedly forcing it a lot of the time. Not because I don’t feel these feelings, but because they get pushed away by a much stronger force I can’t always control. My research and my writing is making me stronger. I admit, I’m crawling before I can walk. Taking it slow and being the best I can for them.

It’s not exactly “faking it, till I make it.” It’s more like acting a part. I recently read about Temple Grandin, a famous Autistic woman who is extremely gifted in her field as many Autistic people are, but has social limitations. She now gives talks to huge audiences on the mind of the Autistic and how “neurodiversity,” which is what many high-functioning Autistics call it now, is a blessing we want to keep and not eradicate.   She has been described as saying she had to study and learn the “give and take” of so-called normal conversation and when to use eye contact and other body language appropriate for human interaction. The exact kind of things most of us take for granted just as a part of growing up. After considering it some more, I feel like that is what the Depression is making me do. I watch other Mom’s and even my Husband who is the greatest Dad, and I kind of copy the good stuff I like. Then I practice. Some days I don’t need to fall back on this as much, because I’m feeling good. Today might be one of those days. Some days I rely on my acquired skills entirely.

Like the day before yesterday. I did not do a good job of acting my part. I was completely shut down and didn’t have the time to adjust while the kids were at school. My daughter was home sick. And I had nothing to give. It was all I could do to ask her how she was feeling and take her temperature. Lucky for me, she slept most of the day. My ability to empathize was abysmal. And when I went to bed that night I felt my failure in my bones. I promised to do better the following day (yesterday) and I did. I fell into my role, and I coddled her to the best of my ability. I made her feel taken care of. I did all I could to make up for the prior day. I apologized for failing her. As always she denied it, but I knew it was true. I had a bad day, and as long as I have this illness, there will be bad days. I can’t let them beat me though. And thanks to one of my fellow writers, I think today I will beat the illness. Today will be an UP day. So many thanks to a young woman with a big life ahead of her and enough optimism to share with me.