There are some days when I look out of the window and wonder how the day can be so sunny, so beautiful, and I can feel so utterly miserable.
I have precisely nothing to complain about in my life and yet some days, like every other human being, are days when I want to climb into a hole and hide from the world with nothing but a bar of chocolate for company.
One of the unspoken rules as a woman and as a mama is that you don’t give in to days like these; you carry on regardless, soldier on, put on your game face and get shit done.
In all the years I've been doing that, I think I've been doing a huge disservice to my children.
I'm not saying that I should be selling ringside seats to those times when I sit on the sofa and cry for no bloody reason at all. No, because that would be highly self indulgent for a start.
I mean that timing and circumstance means that my children have almost never seen me upset and I worry about how that must seem to them.
Do they think that people stop crying when they grow up? Do they think we stop being sad? Or that we still get sad but just that we don’t show it?
One of my friends has Post Natal Depression a few years back and the thing that she comes back to when she talks about the experience is that her young son had seen her at her lowest. In hindsight, I think her unintended honesty probably did him a big favour by showing him that adults are as vulnerable and emotional as any child.
It’s an intensely uncomfortable experience to let your child see you cry, not least because it provokes questions you would rather not answer when you are busy blowing snot bubbles.
I try to find strength in answering those questions, and take comfort in knowing that my honesty is giving the children more words in their emotional vocabulary.
Wow, did I just write the words emotional vocabulary in a blog post?
What I mean is that it gives me a chance to answer all the questions they haven’t yet asked me: Yes mama does get sad, yes she does cry, yes she is fallible.
It gives me a better connection with my children, not as a traditional “protector” perhaps but as a fellow human being who is subject to the exact same quirks of mood. It gives me a chance to show them that emotions are transient and that there is endless healing power in a hug.
I don’t want to be the “perfect” mama to my children, I enjoy showing them that we are travelling this road together and that I am learning from them every day. I truly believe that while “happiness is a skill. It’s something we can get more of by intentionally changing our brain chemistry“ we have to leave some room in our lives for its counterpoint.
I have to be honest with my children that while we work hard to be happy, and to live in a positive way, sometimes there are days where the world loses its shine. I need to show them these emotions exist for everyone and that feeling that way isn't the end of the world, it’s just another facet of being human.