Parenting with depression..single parenting has its challenges. Especially when the other parent is completely removed from the picture, the pressure to be everything for our kids can be overwhelming. We must remain steady, managing our emotions well so we can help our children learn to manage theirs. Even with help from family and friends, we are the sole parent. The responsibility of rearing falls squarely on our shoulders. The weight can seem all that more overwhelming when you are dealing with depression.
Depression may come in waves, it may linger beneath the surface, or be a constant thorn in our foot reminding us of our weakness. It comes in forms of sadness, irritability, tiredness, or a wide range of other emotions. The variability of it makes it an unpredictable chaos. Single parenting with depression could be a perfect storm. It could be. Unmanaged, it could embed anxiety in the hearts of our children, as they struggle to find consistency and stability. It could. Unchecked, it could feed off our parenting guilt, drowning us in the reality that we can never truly be all are kids need. It could. Unsupported we could find ourselves with our heads just above the water, unable to do and provide all we desire. Under those circumstances, it will be a lose-lose situation for us and our children. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
In my household, there have been really good “mental health” days, but it took time to learn how to get there. Before I did some weekends were filled with emptiness. Everything would be quiet, except the sound of the television or tablet from the living room, as I lay bed unable to will myself up. “Mommy doesn’t feel well,” I would say when questioned. I desperately wanted something else for my son but didn’t know how to get it. Through prayer and counseling, I began to learn to brace myself for the waves. I thank God on a regular basis that He has helped me learn to parent beyond my depression. Now my son and I get movie and book days where we sit together in our pajamas and only venture out of bed for snacks. When journeying to the park is too difficult, the back door stays open and we blow bubbles, I count his jumps on the trampoline, and let him splash around with the water table. When I am irritable, I embrace ample opportunities to model the complexities of apologizing. A greater blessing is the ability to show my son (and remind myself) that we all mess up, but God’s forgiveness never runs out. On days where even the sound of breathing grates my nerves and being touched makes my skin crawl, I have been blessed with friends and family that will let me come over and rest while my son plays. While I see a counselor, it wasn’t until I stopped waiting to be cured that I could care for my son better.
I would rather not be a single parent that struggles with depression. I would rather be able to have a spouse that can pick up my parenting slack, but that’s not my reality. There will still be lots of Door Dash orders and laundry that piles up. There will be screen time and sometimes it will be more than recommended allotment. Those are the facts, but I can minimize the inconsistency and lack of presence that existed before. In all honesty, we can never be the end-all and be-all for our kids. Instead of rejecting that can learn our weaknesses. Instead of promising ourselves we will never face depression again, we can plan how to parent around it. Before it is needed, we can get help so our kids don’t become casualties of the silence and emptiness of depression.